What is an Essential Oil?
In many cases, therapeutic grade essential oils may be superior to other medicines, mainly because the Life Force of the plant is intact and does not require toxic additives and fillers for preserving its potency, and because of this, side effects are rarely seen. In addition to anti-microbial effects, many essential oils have powerful anti-viral, anti-fungal and antibiotic properties for treating numerous types of infections, digestion issues, asthma and much more.
The antibacterial activity of essential oils has been researched continuously since the 1880s. Their efficacy against many bacterial pathogens has been demonstrated in countless in vitro experiments. Over the past century studies suggest that essential oils either inhibit bacterial growth or kill the bacteria outright.
Unlike antibiotics, which inhibit an easily identifiable, single target, the activity of essential oils, impairs a bacterium in multiple physiological systems as well as in membrane functionality.
Essential oil efficacy against fungi and yeasts has been demonstrated in vitro, but again, no mechanisms have been derived from these experiments.
Many sesquiterpene hydrocarbon components of essential oils have been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory effects on tissue. While the cellular and biochemical mechanisms are not clearly understood, sesquiterpene hydrocarbons have an obvious capacity to dissipate free radicals, the agents of inflammation.
In the first sixty years of the 20th century, viral diseases were not as well understood as they are today, and were culturally overshadowed by bacterial infections. The pharmaceutical industry has created effective antibiotics for bacterial infections over the years, but nothing for viral infections.
The beginning of the AIDS crisis brought to light the difference between a virus and a bacterium in the public consciousness. At the same time the absence of industrial viral drugs was noticed. However, for those aware of plant-based medicine, essential oils came to the rescue.
In 1987 Lembke and Deininger published their groundbreaking study about antiviral (and also antibacterial and antifungal) properties of essential oils and their components. Many more studies followed worldwide, corroborating their findings. The efficacy of many oils and their components against a wide range of viruses has been demonstrated in vitro and occasionally in clinical trials. The stunning efficacy of all or almost all essential oils against herpes lesions is probably the best example for a curious mind to experience the true meaning of nonselective effects firsthand.
(Excepts from The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils – The Science of Advanced Aromatherapy, by Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D)