I love treating patients with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Formulas at The Yo San University Clinic. We see many patients with Influenza or The Common Cold and for the last few months there has been a vile, despicable, incapacitating cold going around. It starts off as a sore scratchy throat and quickly moves to the chest where it becomes a heavy cough with thick phlegm. Other symptoms include dizziness, difficulty sleeping, lethargy and a stuffy nose. I know this not only because I treated four patients with it in one day, but also because I came down with it too!
In my second week of this seemingly never ending monstrosity it occurred to me that perhaps I’m lucky not to have caught more colds and influenzas while treating so many sick patients in the last year. I do have access to effective preventative herbal formulas for building up my immune system during times of stress, when I’m most susceptible.
In the past year I’ve had to take one of these prevention formulas at least once a month and have only been sick once. Not bad for seeing more than ten patients a month with the cold or influenza. But as I binge watched a mind-numbing amount of TV I realized that two weeks is way too long to be down with this loathsome, contemptible illness – I don’t have time for this! So how did this beastly cold catch me with all the hand washing and preventative formulas? According to The Mayo Clinic, germs can live on surfaces for up to forty-eight hours, which is why it is so important that we wipe down all surfaces in between patients. Since the anti-bacterial wipes supplied by the clinic do not have a pleasant odor, I decided to develop my own quick, effective, pleasant smelling method of cleansing my treatment room after each patient. I started doing some research and to my delight, found that essential oils are very effective as antibacterial agents. I already use my own special combination of essential oils, but I needed to research which ones are the most anti-bacterial. I found a study published by The Oxford Journal that evaluated the antibacterial activity of 14 essential oils in the gaseous state to determine which had the lowest minimal inhibitory dose (MID) on several bacteria such as Influenza, Pneumonia and Staphylococcus. They found that the top six are Cinnamon Bark, Lemmon Grass, Thyme, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus and Clove. Perfect!
Making a good spray is easy. All you need is a 1 or 2 ounce spray bottle, some 91% rubbing alcohol and the essential oils of your choice. I use 91% alcohol because according to the Oxford Journal Study, rapid evaporation of essential oils is most effective on bacteria. Alcohol will also serve to keep the spray bottle from clogging. If you don’t want to shake the bottle before each spraying, you can also purchase a coconut based Emulsifier. An emulsifier will keep the oil and water dispersed evenly in your mixture.
While working on a blend, I found Clove to be a bit overpowering –it reminded me a bit too much of a rather succulent Havana Pork Loin Roast that I like to make for dinner parties. Thyme can be very irritating to skin as well as Cinnamon Bark to a lesser degree, so be frugal with them. My favorite combination so far is a mix of Cinnamon Bark, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Cedarwood, Sandlewood and Jasmine essential oils.
In addition to being anti-bacterial, each of these essential oils has other notable healing properties.
-Cedarwood: calming, balancing, benefits skin and hair, clears phlegm,
-Cinnamon Bark: anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, fights exhaustion and depression.
-Eucalyptus: anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, decongestant, clarity, concentration.
-Jasmine: anti-depressant, aphrodisiac, relaxing, uplifting, sooths coughs, improves skin elasticity.
-Lemon Grass: anti-bacterial, revitalizing, deodorant, fungicidal.
-Sandalwood: calming, balancing, uplifting, stimulates pineal gland
-Tea Tree: anti-bacterial, anti-viral, fungicidal, expectorant, relieves muscle aches
-Thyme: anti-bacterial, concentration, focus, bronchial and lung stimulant.
My beautiful smelling, peaceful, grounding, anti-bacterial Anti-Cold & Flu Essential Oil spray is ready to go. I’ll be using it in my treatment rooms and home and spending more time outdoors enjoying the beautiful California weather! As I mentioned earlier, there are also a vast array of formidable Chinese Herbal Formulas to prevent colds and influenza as well as build the immune system. Ask your acupuncturist about them at your next visit so that you stay healthy and avoid being stuck indoors binge watching TV episodes on Netflix.
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Oxford Journals; “Antibacterial activity of essential oils and their major constituents against respiratory tract pathogens by gaseous contact”, January 22, 2001 by Shigeharu Inouye, Toshio Takizawa and Hedeyo Yamaguchi.
“In Vitro Antibacterial Activity of Some Plant Essential Oils”, by Seevivasan Prabuseenivasan, Manickkam Jayakumar and Savarimuthu Ignacimuthu; BioMedcentral.com
Mayo Clinic, “Influenza” by Dr. James M. Steckelberg
OrganicFacts.net, “Health Benefits of Essential Oils.
The Ananda Apothecary, “Using Essential Oils Antibacterial Properties”