There are over 80 types of autoimmune diseases affecting an estimated 7% of Americans, meaning you or someone you know likely suffers from one or more of these diseases. If you’re unfamiliar with this term, an autoimmune disease refers to a person’s immune system thatmistakes its own bodily cells for foreign ones, attacking its cells as a result. Some common types of autoimmune diseases include type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. With so many living with an autoimmune disease, it’s no wonder why EG often receives questions on using essential oils to combat this disease. To help you navigate the world of autoimmune disease and aromatherapy, we sought out to answer all of your burning questions.
Autoimmune diseases are most often the result of genetics, outside influences or both. Outside influences can include one’s environment and diet.Scientists also hypothesize that our immune systems may be programmed to fight off more germs and bacteria than humans currently encounter, thanks to an increase in hygiene in recent decades, which in turn may cause our immune systems to overreact in the face of minor to nonexistent threats. Inflammation is also often associated with causing autoimmune diseases. Thus, anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drugs are often used to help control these diseases.
So what role do essential oils play in autoimmune disease?Most essential oils are anti-inflammatory, therefore it’s speculated that they may help to control inflammation-related autoimmune diseases. Additionally, because autoimmune diseases are often caused by an overactive immune system, it’s recommended that immuno-compromised people avoid immunostimulating essential oils. These essential oils include, but are not limited to, Clove whichincreases white blood cell count, Cinnamon Bark and Leaf whichmodulate immunostimulating T cells along with Fennel and Thyme which inhibit oxidative-stress-causing reactive oxygen species (ROS). On the other hand, Litsea essential oil has shown promising immunosuppressive qualities in mice, which may help to decrease an overactive immune system.
Now that you have a better understanding of autoimmune diseases and aromatherapy, it’s important that you take this information and speak with an aromatherapist and doctor who can provide you with safe guidelines that meet your individual needs. Why? Because there are so many different types of autoimmune diseases and individuals are unique in how essential oils affect them, this information is not one-size-fits-all. In light of this fact, one aromatherapist recommends usingtrial and error to learn what works best for oneself, and we second this notion (so long as you’re following general safety guidelines). Furthermore, with most doctors strongly recommending a healthy diet, good sleep and stress-management as the primary means of controlling autoimmunity, one should not solely rely on essential oils. Living in the digital age,resources for managing this disease is not hard to come by. But again, the best advice is advice that’s tailored to one’s individual needs.