Immunity: Defense, Part I

Posted to Subscribers on 5 October 2014

Dear Subscribers,

This being the first post on the new server, I want to make sure it is full of important information. Meanwhile, I apologize for the hiatus. It took a month, more or less, to change servers! I cannot begin to describe the stress. I lived on antioxidants.

The news seems to be designed to engender fear and then, of course, compliance with the hidden agenda that motivates the fear tactics. One day it's war, another it's the economy or climate, and today it's global epidemics. Unfortunately, with the loss of free speech and many other benefits of birth that we were sure attached to our citizenship, one cannot openly discuss the management of challenges of the magnitude of those that currently affect us. Let's then suggest that all the posts, hundreds and hundreds of them, have been a preparation for today.

Despite having way too much on my plate, I manage to read quite a bit about what is and is not probably going to happen as a result of the various epidemics that are always used to hype some new and probably demonic pharmaceutical solution — and that, unfortunately, is just the tip of the iceberg. As we all know, the rest is hidden.

The Immune System

Language can sometimes be very helpful, but it is often misleading. The "immune system" is not a tidy structure that is easy to define and understand. It would probably be more accurate if we referred to various strategies the body has for protecting itself as well as correcting problems that sneak through the first lines of defense. The "system" is not in any way similar to the skeletal system or digestive system or nervous system. Immunity consists of various defenses and offenses that sometimes involve several systems or functions.

We can think of defense as protection. For instance, in Japan, people commonly wear masks to protect against inhalation of germs (and radioactive particulates). If you remember the essay, pdf, on Potent Protection, you will realize that during the times of the Black Death, there were masks that were worn when visiting the sick. There is a picture of Dr. Schnabel in that download:

The "trick" was not the magical appearance of the costumes worn by the plague doctors but that they stuffed the headdress with essential oils. So, this might be the right time and place to discuss essential oils.

We do not have anything remotely resembling a clear history of essential oils, but oils have been used for thousands of years, meaning, of course, that the art of distillation is ancient, and the properties of the oils have been noted, presumably for longer than our present written history. The oils were used in various cosmetic and medicinal ways, and this is presently an issue that probably will not easily disappear. For instance, lavender oil was used in Roman baths. We get the word "to wash" from the plant name and hence a lavatory is where we wash — and dare we add "disinfect" — ourselves. Of all the antimicrobial oils, lavender is not merely the most familiar but probably one of the most aromatically pleasing.

For years and years, I have posted do-it-yourself projects involving the use of essential oils in various soaps and lotions. Today, I will be bold and say that the liquid soaps containing essential oils, real oils, not fragrances, can be a line of defense. We all should have studied the history of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweiss and infection and realize that the reason we wash our hands before eating or after touching something potentially contaminated is that we want to protect ourselves from infection. In his time, the concern was primarily with the very high rate of infection occurring — due to lack of hygiene — when delivering babies, not to mention performing surgery.

It's hard to come up with numbers, but I am going to guess that 99% of the essential oils used in the world today go into something less than what we call pure products in the cosmetic industry. There are historic reasons for this. Essential oils were used by the perfumery industry, and the various blends of aromas became highly proprietary and difficult to imitate. Nostradamus, a famous plague doctor, was heir to a family perfumery business. I do not know exactly how it was in his time, but today, many of these oils are distilled in ways that would not be acceptable for therapeutic use. The oils used in "medical aromatherapy" must be pure. They should be steam distilled without hexane or any other solvents. Personally, I do not care whether or not they are certified organic because I prefer wildcrafted plants to farmed plants, but I am a fanatic about the way in which the plants are distilled.

What we know about essential oils is actually sparse compared to what we ought to expect. Let's say that there are 2-3 million plant species on our planet. We can distill the flowers, leaves, bark, seeds, roots, stems, even heartwood. Moreover, the oils from the various plant parts can be vastly different. Let me give a few examples. With cinnamon oil, the best oil is from the bark, but it takes a long time to distill compared to softer plant parts so the bark oil is expensive compared to the leaf oil. In most fragrance products, the leaf oil is used, but the bark oil is truly exquisite and it has excellent therapeutic properties.

The best example might however be with cilantro because both the leaf and seed oils are readily available and both are affordable, but the aroma of the leaf is totally overwhelming. You will probably regret opening a bottle of the leaf oil because the smell will linger for half an eternity, and most people would not find the aroma particularly agreeable. The seed oil, coriander, is however quite friendly in comparison and rather a lot of study has been done that suggests it is a valuable aid for those with liver conditions.

Let's zoom out a bit. We have a fragrance industry that is huge. Not only does it include perfumes and all the artificial additives to everything from candles to pesticides, but it is part of the chemical industry and does not adhere to the standards for medical aromatherapy. Besides the contaminants, we actually have very little idea as to the potency of any oil that is not 100% pure and full strength since the tests that one sees on pubmed usually involved inferior products. For all we know, the results may be due to hexane rather than the oil being tested.

In any event, a single drop of pure oil is extremely powerful and rarely is more than a single drop appropriate. Some people order immense amounts of oil, but this is almost never necessary unless you are blending the oils and making gifts for others.

Very few soaps use pure essential oils. However, there are some companies that use high quality oils. The most popular oils in these soaps would be lavender, tea tree, sage, and various oils made from citrus peels. Some of these oils are used in bar soaps, and many are used in hand soaps and lotions as well as some dishwasher detergents and cleaning products. Ironically, many cleaning products use real essential oils but foods may be flavored with synthetic oils!


We have to think very carefully about what a germicide is because only when we understand the product will we use it correctly. Various oils have been pitted against hospital disinfectants and have been shown to be significantly stronger than what is typically used in places where sterilization is very important. Clove oil is one of the best disinfectants. Years ago, I read that it is 33 times stronger than hospital disinfectants. This means that it can be diluted, down to 1-2% of a solution, and still be effective. However, the odor is intense so we can compare it to other oils that are not so intense, like thyme and lavender.

Many oils have been researched in petri dishes to test their action against specific pathogens. I would venture to guess that none have been tested against any viruses or bacteria associated with pandemics. Usually, they are tested on staphylococcus, streptococcus, or occasionally some other relatively readily available microorganism. Sometimes, the antifungal properties are tested and sometimes the oils are compared to antibiotics to determine the kill ratios. Keep in mind, these are not clinical studies; they are all done in petri dishes.

This means that the dilutions cannot be replicated in the body. If you think of what 1% means and you try to translate this to a percent of body weight or a percent of plasma, the absurdity becomes immediately apparent. The reality is that a single drop in water that is sipped over a day or two or even three days is actually medicinally significant but we do not actually know how this is possible. I will try to come to this in another post, perhaps next weekend.

In the meantime, I want to stick to "defense." We have sterility to consider, but "life" consists of pathogens as well as friendly microorganisms that we need. Antibiotics as well as certain types of "natural" remedies that work on principles similar to those of antibiotics can destroy pathogenic as well as necessary organisms. Essential oils often work in this manner, especially at the higher dosages, so they should only be used when carefully considered.

Internal and External Use

Since this subject is vast and it is easy to go off on tangents, I will try to stay on track. We have soaps and various cleaning agents that can be used on surfaces. We can also use UV lights. I have recommended the UV lights used for toothbrush sterilization but there are also wands that can be used on counter tops, toilet seats, bedding, and whatever else one wants, but these also are not perfect because UV lights emit some ozone and the light is harmful to the eyes and skin. In short, one needs to read the instructions and know how to use these devices before going gangbusters.

I have a UV light installed in my HVAC system. I think it performs a useful function, but there are times when I have to shut it off just to remember what air ought to smell like. Many people wrote me about their interests in construction. If I were building a house from scratch, I would not use circulating air for heating or cooling. Keeping the ducts clean is a nightmare and the constant blowing of air is an accident waiting to happen. However, if there is an odor or a pathogen from outside, having a method for filtering air is very useful. It is therefore a catch 22 situation. Still, having lived with this for the last 14 years, I can say that if I were ever to start from scratch, I would not use circulating air, but I would invest in a portable air purifier that uses a combination of strategies, including HEPA filtration. Also, I should probably go on record saying that I prefer essential oils to ozone and UV filtration. There are a couple of compelling reasons for saying this. The most important is that the oils, when properly nebulized, leave a zone of inhibition, meaning that if a viable organism falls on such a surface, it would probably either die or be drastically restrained.

Air quality is a global problem. We have not just shared air but constantly recirculated air: on airplanes, in large buildings, and in just about every space that is air conditioned so the risk of airborne illnesses is enormous. Logically, it would therefore be impossible to imagine how to stop an outbreak from becoming a pandemic. Yet, we know that none of the alleged pandemics since 911 were actually as lethal as predicted. The question is why? I have no doubt but that the engineered pathogens were intended to take a toll and the vaccines only added to the risks, but there must be an explanation for the failure of an outbreak to become an epidemic. I pray the explanation is to be found somewhere in the ingeniousness of how our bodies function.

Let me however try to stay on track. Defense includes precautionary measures, preventative measures, and management of exposure. Among the precautionary measures, hygiene and risk avoidance have to be highest on the list. Among the preventative measures, we should include whatever we can do to improve our immunity. Management is much trickier because it means that the first two approaches to avoiding infection failed.

I would like to wrap up "defense" with a couple more comments. We have hygiene and disinfection, but there are also internal defenses that involve two main measures. The first is avoidance of substances that crash the immune system. These include fluoride, chlorine, and many other chemicals typically found in treated water as well as countless pharmaceuticals and harsh chemicals, including vapors that are inhaled, not just what is ingested. We might consider that avoiding exposure to synthetics and chemicals is a sensible part of "prevention" but there are other sound measures to maintain adequate defense. One very important and often overlooked measure of defense is the perfection of our lipid structures. The slipperiness of the membranes protecting our erythrocytes is nearly always overlooked by patients and health care practitioners. When we are worried about a hemorrhagic virus, this consideration is very important.

Sometimes I feel like a broken record but I also realize that even if I say something several times or repeat it over a period of decades, not all readers click in the first time. There is a moment when that "ah ha" does occur so some repetition is reasonable.

We can improve our diets by at least 30%, perhaps 50%, by simply changing the oils we use in cooking. Just as with essential oils, many cooking oils are refined, adulterated, or too crude to enhance the functioning of the body. We need ghee or cold pressed oils. Cold pressed oils must be in containers that block UV light.


In concluding this post, I want to mention that I ran another experiment recently. As you may recall, the water main broke. Despite the encapsulation of my crawl space, the space flooded. It took five full days to clean it: suction up the water and mud, remove algae and mold, clean all the surfaces, retape the seams, caulk the weak places, etc., etc., etc. I ran the new essential oil diffuser in the space and kept the diffuser on a large piece of cardboard. Then, I collected some mold and put it on the cardboard, some on the area closest to where the diffuser had been and some further away. Part of the cardboard was saturated with oil but the distant parts were also exposed to mist. I put the cardboard in the greenhouse (without any plants) but it was hot and humid in there. The mold would not grow on either the saturated or misted areas.

Now, let's translate this into useful terms. If the same procedures had been used in the kitchen, there would presumably be inhibition on some surfaces but the more often the surfaces were wiped down, the less durable the inhibition would be. Likewise, if we did the same in the bedroom, the inhibition can be very effective on mattresses but obviously less so on sheets. This is an important point because some pathogens grow best in dusty places, like under the bed or behind the headboard of the bed. Others grow where there is moisture or condensation which can be wherever breath is exhaled or moisture from the body is wicked up during sleep. I therefore always run the diffuser in the bedroom when changing sheets and interestingly, I always sleep best the night the sheets are changed. Maybe it's me or maybe there is something to the oils and hygienic practices.

So, we take the experiences we have and try to apply what we learned to more hypothetical situations. If the essential oils leave some residual, germs would probably die on treated surfaces. The few that might survive might not be able to replicate. We do not know for certain because staging demonstrations with something that is potentially lethal is simply not possible or ethical. However, were it me, and this is, of course, always the caveat, I would probably use a combination of strategies involving adequate hygienic practices, avoidance of risks, and precautionary measures in my own space. Immune enhancement would be the obvious next step and a topic for another day.

My plate is still very full, but on the 11th, I plan to take in Macbeth so I want to write a bit about music in the coming weeks, just in case some people are interested in this new Metropolitan Opera Live in HD presentation.

Many blessings,


Copyright by Ingrid Naiman 2014


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