No matter how careful we are about washing our hands, sanitizing counter tops, and staying away from sick people, sometimes we just catch something. Why are these germs choosing us? Besides taking up residence in a protective bubble, is there anything we can do?
Natural killer cells are a type of white blood cell that are handy to have around. They send self-destruct messages to tumors and virus-infected cells.
So should we all go around sniffing pine trees? What if you could get the same benefits from phytoncides while you slept? Li conducted an experiment by locking participants in hotel rooms for 3 nights. In some rooms, he placed a humidifier that released cypress oil. The results showed in the rooms with cypress oil, participants "experienced a 20 percent increase in natural killer cells during their stay and reported feeling less fatigued" (Williams 2017) than the control group. Other studies have shown that the elevated levels of natural killer cells were still 15% higher one month after exposure.
The best news is that these experiments were done with essential oils. Meaning you don't need to go bother your local Christmas tree farm when you are starting to feel under the weather. Just grab a diffuser and splash in a few drops of your favorite phytoncides essential oil. Our personal favorite is Cypress Oil (which we carry at Avena).
While you should keep up with all your normal cold and flu prevention techniques, this could help give your immune system the extra boost needed to make it through the season. And you can even replenish your natural killer cells while you sleep! Isn't that a breeze?
Williams, Florence (2017). The Nature Fix, Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative. New York. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.