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No Flu Shot For Me! Fighting the Flu With Essential Oils {Antiviral Spray Recipe}

Virginia George September 16, 2014

As the weather cools and we enter flu season, the mainstream begins its big push for flu shots. There are huge campaigns and incentives at every pharmacy and grocery store. But is the flu shot really the best way to avoid getting sick? We don’t think so. Contributing writer Virginia George discusses why the shot is not all it’s cracked up to be and how you can use essential oils to stay healthy instead.

Each fall we begin hearing predictions of the coming flu season. Experts speculate whether it’ll be a “bad” season, or just a mild one. Then pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies start pushing the flu shot.

Last year Walgreen’s came out with the “Arm yourself for the ones you love” campaign. The campaign made those of us who avoid the flu shot sound like coldhearted disease mongers. I particularly like the one of the pregnant mom which says, “I got a flu shot for my future bundle of joy.”

Unknown Safety

Walgreen’s conveniently left out the fact that the vaccine inserts themselves recommend pregnant women avoid receiving the flu shot. Both the AFLURIA and FLULAVAL shots say in section 8.1, “Because animal reproduction studies are not always predictive of human response, AFLURIA (FLULAVAL) should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed.”

Testing performed with laboratory rats showed no fetal harm, but manufacturers admit that the impact on a developing human just isn’t known, therefore pregnant women shouldn’t get the flu shot unless necessary (and what does “clearly needed” mean? Does “Because my doctor says so” count?). Yet here, the pharmacy is marketing directly to pregnant women, implying that their unborn baby will be safer if they get a flu shot. Talk about contradictory.

Swine Flu Scare

I was pregnant with my third child during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. There was near pandemonium. Flights were grounded, more than the hypochondriac was walking around in public wearing a face mask, and the pharmaceutical companies set to work developing a vaccine.

If I remember correctly, the vaccine was developed in 13 weeks and then was pushed out to the public as quickly as possible. Somehow 13 weeks was enough time to ensure it’s safety and efficacy. They were under pressure to come up with a solution, and doctors were recommending pregnant women be inoculated with this vaccination.

Is 13 weeks enough time to determine the effects of a vaccination on an unborn baby? Considering the “regular” flu shots cannot verify safety for pregnant women, I don’t think the H1N1 flu vaccine was tested for safety, but women in my “Due Date Club” were flocking to their OB’s office to get their shot at the doctor’s recommendation.

2009 H1N1 Use in Specific Populations

Other Concerns

Besides the lack of safety testing for pregnant women, you’ll find the flu shot inserts also state that there has been no testing to determine if the vaccination can cause fertility damage. There has also been no study to determine the carcinogenicity  of the vaccine. We do know, however, that aluminum is added to the flu shot to increase the body’s response to the vaccine. Aluminum is a neurotoxin.

Additionally, “Safety and effectiveness of FLULAVAL in children younger than 3 years of age have not been established.” AFLURIA says not to give their shot to children under 5. I wonder whether doctors and nurses are aware of the limitations of each brand of vaccine and choose vaccines not contraindicated for the subgroup they are giving them to.

The information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease.

These are just some of the reasons that my family opts out of getting the flu shot each year.  So what, then, are we to do to prevent or treat the flu if and when we do get sick?

Firstly, we focus on prevention. In “How to Stay Healthy {and what to do if you don’t}” I talk about some of the things we do to prevent getting sick in the first place, like adequate rest, eating well, and bone broth.

In “How to Stay Healthy” I also talk about some ways of treating illness. I only touched on essential oils, but today I’m going to give you a recipe that has saved us several times in the first couple weeks we’ve had the remedy on hand.

But first, let’s look at the difference between bacteria and viruses. Then why essential oils are a good choice for treating illness, including the flu.

Bacteria vs Virus

Many of us have been told that whatever is ailing us is a virus. Of course this means there’s “nothing you can do about it”. Antibiotics are useless and antivirals don’t provide immediate relief, so we are told to “wait it out”. Why is that? First, a little biology.

Every cell is a living organism in and of itself. Cells are protected by a cell membrane and contain several organelles (much like our organs) to facilitate the cell’s function. For a basic understanding of several cell functions, and activities to do with your children, check out my animal cell lesson and printable at Frugal Homeschool Family.

It’s important to note that there are millions of bacteria on and in our bodies, and most bacteria are harmless. In fact they help us digest our food, destroy disease causing cells, and even make foods for us, like cheese and yogurt. We’re going to be talking about the icky bacteria; the ones that make us sick.

What is the difference between a bacterium and a virus?

Bacteria

Bacteria are single celled organisms. They often find a point of entry such as our eyes, nose, mouth, cut, or scrape, enter our bloodstream, and begin to multiply as our immune system tries to get rid of them. If the bacteria are strong enough they will continue growing in number until they are numerous enough to overwhelm our immune system, at which point we get sick.

Once inside our bodies, some bacteria also produce toxins that provoke an immune response or destroy tissue in the host. Other bacteria even contain protective chemicals that keep them from being digested by a white blood cell, and once they are inside the cell, will continue to live and replicate.

Antibiotics can affect bacterium because bacterium remain in our bloodstream. A medication is ingested or injected and once it enters our blood stream it can interfere with the bacteria’s ability to repair itself, inhibit the bacteria’s ability to make the proteins necessary to replicate, or weaken the bacteria’s cell wall until it bursts. Once the bacteria are weak or present in lesser quantity our immune system can take back over and our health will improve.

Viruses

Viruses are different from bacteria in that they are not cells. Before they enter the cell, they are actually called virions and are not alive. They are little packages of protein and DNA or RNA. A virion will attach to a cell wall, and in some cases enters by creating a hole in the cell membrane through which it injects it’s DNA.

Viruses can also enter a cell through the cell’s own transport facilities. Cells have a semi-permeable membrane, meaning most things cannot pass in or out, but there needs to be a way for nutrients to enter a cell and waste to exit the cell. Certain viruses, HIV for example, can enter this way. Once inside, the virus begins to take over the cell and causes it to produce more viruses.

Antibiotics cannot treat viruses because the live viral DNA is now inside the cell membrane, through which antibiotics cannot travel. Some antivirals are able to stop viruses from entering new cells, but they cannot destroy the viruses already inside cells.

Essential oils, however, are different.

Essential Oils Fight Infection

When I first started on my essential oil journey I was told that essential oils can pass through the cell membrane and therefore act on a virus that has already taken over a cell. Not one to blindly take someone’s word for it, I did some research and found growing evidence of the potency and power of essential oils.

I came across one study in particular that discussed the effect of essential oils on bacteria. Researchers found essential oils can alter the structure of a cell membrane. The essential oils tested made the cell membrane more fluid and less rigid, making for a healthier cell that can transport waste outside and therefore operate more efficiently.

That study also showed that the essential oils can both destabilize the cell membrane of the bacterial cell, and inhibit cell division by acting on bacterial proteins.

There is another study that looks at an essential oil blend and it’s effect on influenza virus cultured in canine kidney cells. Researchers discovered that viral activity was reduced up to 90% with the use of this blend. It also reduced viral reproduction by up to 90% and reduced the infection rate by up to 90%. It appears that On Guard decreased the virus’ ability to create the proteins which are necessary for viral reproduction (remember how they’re a package of protein and DNA or RNA?).

Our family chooses to fight the flu with essential oils.

The ORAC Scale

There are many essential oils known for being antiviral. Tea tree (melaleuca), basil, lemon, peppermint, and more. All these oils will enter your body, enter your cells, and fight off viruses that have already taken over your cells. It’s pretty amazing. We tend to talk about these as antioxidants.

We measure a food’s antioxidant level with the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, or ORAC scale.

Most of the time we think blueberries are a food full of antioxidants and therefore high on the ORAC scale. They are! According to the Modern Survival blog, blueberries are 61st of their listed foods with an ORAC rating of 6,552.

Cloves are also on the ORAC scale, but much higher than blueberries. Cloves come in first at 314,446! This makes cloves 48 times more antioxidant than blueberries.

Cloves have a very strong, very distinct taste. It’s not always easy to find a way to get them in your diet. Essential oils make it easy.

On Guard is made from Wild Orange, Clove, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary essential oils. These oils are antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and more. They’re truly remarkable.

Fighting the Flu with Essential Oils

This year we discovered essential oils. We are using them to enhance our immune systems, prevent disease, clean our home, and treat illness when it hits.  We fight the flu with essential oils, too!

This spray is super fast to put together, and knocked out severe sore throats and fevers in my kids overnight. This spray uses a Protective Blend, which is a blend of Orange, Cinnamon, Clove Bud, Eucalyptus Globulus, and Rosemary. If you don’t have a Protective Blend, you could use a blend of these individual oils. I would be sure to include clove because it is so high in antioxidants.

Any time you use essential oils it is best to store them in a glass container, so a glass spray bottle is the best choice. We were in a pinch, however, and purchased a $0.97 spray bottle out of the travel toiletries section at Target.

Protective Blend Throat Spray and Hand Cleanser | by Virginia George at Modern Alternative Mama

The Supplies

  • 2 oz spray bottle
  • 15 drops Protective Blend
  • Vodka

The Directions

Add your essential oil to the spray bottle first, then fill to the top with vodka. Shake before using.

That’s it! We use this for hand cleanser, throat spray, for cleaning light switches and door knobs. We even for sanitizing the air in a pinch (typically we use a diffuser for that).

Are you fighting the flu with essential oils, too?

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21 Comments

  1. Is it still effective if you use OnGuard and water as a spritz? Or does the vodka make a big difference?

    Reply

    • You should be able to use water. I used the vodka largely for the throat numbing effect and also quick evaporation on the hands. We have had this 3 oz bottle for a month and are less than 1/4 way through it, so no one is consuming much alcohol. 😉

      If you’re using it as a cleaner in the house, I’d probably do a 50/50 blend of water and vinegar, then add the essential oil.

      Reply

  2. Great article!
    I place On Guard in a roll bottle(glass) and add a carry oil. Every day before my daughter goes to school I put it on her feet. I have it also made it into a spray and put it on her hands before she gets into the car in the afternoon.

    Reply

  3. I LOVE this recipe. I just happened to see this post last week when I got a sore throat and was coming down with something. I made it right away and it was awesome! I have it sitting on my desk now because the sore throat isn’t totally gone and it’s awesome.

    Reply

  4. So is DoTerra’s On Guard safe for pregnant women? Especially using it in the air, as well as a throat spray?

    Reply

    • It’s difficult to say what is and isn’t safe during pregnancy. Some of the safety concerns related to essential oils and pregnancy come from the fact that a lot of oils on the market aren’t produced with the safety and purity that doTERRA’s are. Some have fillers, pesticides, and other things in them which may not be safe.

      That said, EverythingEssential.me is a great website to research your health concerns and figure out which oils might be beneficial for supporting that particular concern. The pregnancy page is here:
      At the bottom you’ll see a section labeled “Cautions”. On Guard is a blend of Wild Orange, Clove, Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary. Of those 5 oils, only Wild Orange is in the “safe for sure” category. Eucalyptus and Clove are in the “Use With Dilution” category, and Cinnamon and Rosemary are in the “Consult Your Physician” category.

      If it were *me* and I had a low risk pregnancy I would probably use it, but I can’t make that recommendation to you. I recommend reading Dr. Hill’s suggestions in that category, and if you do decide to use it, just make sure to use it with dilution.

      If you decide you don’t want to use On Guard, a combination of Frankincense, Lemon, and Wild Orange would be a safe alternative.

      Blessings to you and your little one!

      Reply

  5. […] ModernAlternativeMama On The Flu  […]

    Reply

  6. Not sure you are aware, but h1n1 strain vaccine released in Europe and China has resulted in thousands of new cases of debilitating disability narcolepsy. It caused something to be triggered in people already carrying certain susability to it, can look up, pretty scary stuff! I have narcolepsy and wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy! Poor children mainly infected for life now!

    Reply

  7. You had me until I saw DoTerra mentioned…boo!

    Reply

  8. Be careful….while I love the idea of an alternative to the flu shot, some of these oils are contraindicated for use with young children and individuals with some medical conditions. More info here and a recipe for a blend that is : http://www.learningabouteos.com/index.php/2014/08/17/thieves-onguard-essential-oil-blends-what-you-must-know-before-using-thieves-type-blends/

    Also, here’s a recipe for a more kid-friendly anti-germ blend! 🙂 http://www.learningabouteos.com/index.php/2014/01/28/age-appropriate-anti-germ-and-anti-congestion-recipes-and-suggestions-for-babies-and-children/

    Not trying to start a debate, but in my own reading and research about essential oils recently I have discovered that there’s much more to them than first meets the eye….and they definitely need to be approached with caution! 🙂

    Reply

    • I apologize, obviously the recipe is in the second link. 😛

      Reply

    • Yes, you are correct. You should definitely make sure you are using oils safe for children, and could easily substitute the oils for ones you are comfortable with. With the concentration my kids are getting by using this spray I’m not too worried about it, but thank you for pointing out the possible contraindications for using them with young children.

      Reply

  9. […] Get my ingredients and ratios at Modern Alternative Mama. […]

    Reply

  10. As much as I love the post, but if you are a doTERRA WA, you should really know by now, that we cannot make ANY medical claims and that we are no longer allowed to talk about doTERRA or link to our store from our own webpages.. please delete everything about doterra – you can talk about oils in general but not mention doterra in any way – we need to do what we can, to prevent the FDA from ever putting a stop on using eo’s freely and need to support doterra in their decision …. thank you

    Reply

  11. I have been using DoTerra for years and I recently changed to a company called http://www.betteressentials.com as my mom has been using them for quite some time. I am really liking their oils and blends. Their Best Friend blend is just like On-Guard except it has lemon oil and not orange. Is there a difference, because the price of Better Essentials is much more affordable???

    Reply

  12. […] are well loved by lots of families. They are a convenient way to get some natural healing power (including fighting the flu!) and are readily available in many stores. However, they are very potent and for children, it can […]

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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