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Efficacy of Essential Oils against COVID-19 (Corona Virus)

There has been a considerable number of articles written about the usefulness of essential oils in the face of the COVID-19 virus pandemic. This purpose of this article is to separate truth from fiction.

Essential Oils will kill COVID-19 virus cells: False

Essential Oils will not cure COVID-19.

Whilst some essential oils provide some protective properties against many viruses, nothing is known for certain about COVID-19 because so far, there have been no scientific studies investigating the effect of any essential oil on COVID-19. No essential oil acts as a viral cure but research into their anti-viral properties can help drugs researchers prepare anti-viral pharmaceuticals which may have curative properties against viruses in the body.

Essential Oils can protect against viruses and have anti-viral effects: True

There are many research papers in existence from numerous different research bodies which document the results of research programmes investigating the antiviral properties of numerous essential oils. The results are impressive, and in many cases, incontrovertible. The following are viruses for which we have reliable data:

  • SARS Severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by a coronavirus. A severe form of pneumonia that appeared in outbreaks in 2003. SARS-CoV.
  • Influenza H1N1 
  • Avian influenza (Bird Flu) H5N1 and sub-types H7N3 and H9N2
  • Infectious Bronchitis Virus (IBV)
  • Dengue Virus (DEN)
  • Virulent Newcastle disease (NDV), formerly exotic Newcastle disease, is a contagious viral avian disease affecting many domestic and wild bird species
  • Herpes Simplex HSV
  • Argentine Haemorrhagic Virus (AHV) also known as Junin Virus
  • West Nile Virus (WNV)

A Few Examples of Essential Oil Actions against Viruses

  • Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) inhibits replication of virus cells of Influenza A⁄PR ⁄ 8 virus subtype H1N1 to 0,0006% (v ⁄ v)1. It is active against HSV-1 and HSV-2 to 0,0008% (v/v)2.
  • Eucalyptus Oil (Eucalyptus globulus) works actively against HSV-1 and HSV-2 to 0,009% and 0,008% respectively3.
  • Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) works against Avian (Bird) Flu H5N1 and sub-types H7N3 and H9N2 with a single dose of 10 μl4.
  • Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) and Eucalyptus Oil (Eucalyptus globulus) used in aerosols as a disinfectant against Influenza A and Phage M13 of E. Coli. The two oils combined were found capable of inactivating more than 95% of the virus in 5 to 15 minutes of exposure.

There are published Scientific Research Papers on the efficacy of Essential Oils in treating viruses: TRUE

It should however be recognised that the bulk of published research is carried out in vitro – which means in the laboratory. Large clinical trials have been done as part of some research programmes but many which have carried out in vivo research have been limited in their numbers of participants. Much research published has not been peer reviewed or replicated across other laboratories. That being said, there is a considerable body of many thousands of peer-reviewed research papers published showing the results of research into Essential Oils which are available on the web. Many of these can be found through reputable publishing bodies such as :

  • World Journal of Pharmaceutical research
  • Journal of Essential Oil Research
  • International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy
  • Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics
  • Phytotherapy Research
  • European Journal of Applied Physiology
  • International Journal of Neurosciences
  • Global Journal of Medical Research
  • Molecules
  • The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
  • ResearchGate – is an online facility for following research into areas on interest on the net.
  • PubMed is a similar online facility to ResearchGate

For example, see the list at the end of this article for a short extract from the list of published research papers addressing the anti-viral properties of Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), Niaouli (Melaleuca viridiflora), Ho Wood (Cinnamomum camphora) or Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora) essential oils.

Essential oils are not an alternative to isolation and hand washing. Some such as Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia), Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) and Ho Wood (Cinnamomum camphora) or Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora) do have anti-viral properties and are, as a consequence, useful weapons in the battle to stay safe from Corona Virus but they are not cures. They will not cure someone who has become infected with COVID-19 and nor will they prevent cross-infections at close quarters. They can help in disinfecting an area when applied in an aerosol and they are useful additions to soaps, shampoos and hand sanitisers. They may even help support the immune system in fighting the virus – although there is no proof of this.

In addition, they are invaluable in helping people to adapt to the different circumstances in which we are currently living. Many oils such as Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Neroli (Citrus aurantium), CBD (Cannabis sativa) have strong anti-anxiety effects and can help people to relax, feel a little bit reassured and pampered which is something which can only help in these anxious times.

I hope this article helps. If anyone wants to ask questions, I will answer them as well as I can. Stay safe people and don’t rely on inaccurate and misleading information. Follow Government guidelines and stay away from as many sources of infection as possible. And above all don’t fall for the scams which are popping up all over the place offering cures.

For recipes for hand sanitisers, shampoos and soaps see our recipes page,

A short Extract from a Long List of Published Research into Essential Oils and their Properties

  1. Garozzo, A., Timpanaro, R., Bisignano, B., Furneri, P. M., Bisignano, G., & Castro, A. (2009). In vitro antiviral activity of Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil. Letters in applied microbiology, 49(6), 806-808.
  2. Reichling, J., Schnitzler, P., Suschke, U., & Saller, R. (2009). Essential oils of aromatic plants with antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and cytotoxic properties–an overview. Complementary Medicine Research, 16(2), 79-90.
  3. Schnitzler, P., Schon, K. and Reichling, J. (2001) Antiviral activity of Australian tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil against herpes simplex virus in cell culture. Pharmazie 56, 343–347.
  4. Mohammad, A., & Mehmood, D. In Vivo Anti-Viral Effect of Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree Oil) and Olea europaea (Olive Leaf Extract) on Vero Cell Adapted Avian Influenza Virus. Human Journals. Research Article December 2018 Vol.:14, Issue:1 Citation: Mohammad Danish Mehmood et al. Ijppr.Human, 2018; Vol. 14 (1): 7-19.
  5. Usachev, E. V., Pyankov, O. V., Usacheva, O. V., & Agranovski, I. E. (2013). Antiviral activity of Tea Tree and Eucalyptus oil aerosol and vapour. Journal of aerosol science, 59, 22-30.
  6. Ankita, S., Chandra, S. S., & Arti, T. (2013). Phytochemical study and antimicrobial activities of Cinnamomum camphora. World Journal of Pharmaceutical research Volume 3, Issue 2, 2287-2294
  7. Astani, A., & Schnitzler, P. (2014). Antiviral activity of monoterpenes beta-pinene and limonene against herpes simplex virus in vitro. Iranian journal of microbiology, 6(3), 149.
  8. Astani, A., Reichling, J., & Schnitzler, P. (2010). Comparative study on the antiviral activity of selected monoterpenes derived from essential oils.Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives, 24(5), 673-679.
  9. Bisignano, B. (2009). Attività antivirale e studio del meccanismo d’azione di estratti di Melaleuca alternifolia nei vonfronti del virus dell’influenza A. Area 06 – Scienze mediche.
  10. Blanchard, J. M. (2007). Cinnamomum camphora à cinéole (ravintsara), une plante au service de la prévention des infections nosocomiales en milieu hospitalier?. Phytothérapie, 5(1), 15-20.
  11. Carson, C.F., Ashton, L., Dry, L., Smith, D.W. and Riley, T.V. (2001) Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil gel (6%) for the treatment of recurrent herpes labialis. J Antimicrob Chemother 48, 450–451.
  12. Carson, C.F., Smith, D.W., Lampacher, G.J. and Riley, T.V. (2008) Use of deception to achieve double-blinding in a clinical trial of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil for the treatment of recurrent herpes labialis. Contemp Clin Trials 29, 9–12.
  13. C. F. Carson, K. A. Hammer, and T. V. Riley Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties Clin Microbiol Rev. 2006 Jan; 19(1): 50–62.
  14. Galan, D. M., Ezeudu, N. E., Garcia, Jasmine, Geronimo, Chalice A, Berry, Nicholas M. & Malcolm, B. J. (2020). Eucalyptol (1, 8-cineole): an underutilized ally in respiratory disorders?. Journal of Essential Oil Research, 1-8.
  15. Garozzo, A., Timpanaro, R., Stivala, A., Bisignano, G., & Castro, A. (2011). Activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil on Influenza virus A/PR/8: study on the mechanism of action. Antiviral research, 89(1), 83-88.
  16. Hamidpour, R., Hamidpour, S., Hamidpour, M., & Shahlari, M. (2014). Chemistry, Pharmacology and Medicinal Property of Camphor (Cinnamomum Camphora) Traditional Remedy with the History of Treating Several Diseases. Global Journal of Medical Research.
  17. Jean Michel Blanchard (2007). Cinnamomum camphora CT cineole (ravintsara), a plant to help prevent nosocomial infections in the hospital environment. International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy Vol. 4 issue 1
  18. Li, X., Duan, S., Chu, C., Xu, J., Zeng, G., Lam, A. K. Y., … & Gu, H. (2013). Melaleuca alternifolia concentrate inhibits in vitro entry of influenza virus into host cells. Molecules, 18(8), 9550-9566.
  19. Li, Y., Xu, Y. L., … & Xu, P. P. (2017). Intranasal co-administration of 1, 8-cineole with influenza vaccine provide cross-protection against influenza virus infection. Phytomedicine, 34, 127-135.
  20. Loizzo, M. R., Saab, A. M., Tundis, R., Statti, G. A., Menichini, F., Lampronti, I., … & Doerr, H. W. (2008). Phytochemical analysis and in vitro antiviral activities of the essential oils of seven Lebanon species. Chemistry & biodiversity, 5(3), 461-470.
  21. Mansard, M., Laurain-Mattar, D., & Couic-Marinier, F. (2019). Huile essentielle de Ravintsara. Actualités Pharmaceutiques, 58(585), 57-59.
  22. Morales-Rico, C. L., … & González-Camejo, I. (2012). Composición química del aceite esencial de las partes aéreas de Melaleuca quinquenervia. Revista CENIC. Ciencias Químicas, 43, 1-2.
  23. Müller, J. et al. (2016). 1, 8-Cineole potentiates IRF3-mediated antiviral response in human stem cells and in an ex vivo model of rhinosinusitis. Clinical Science, 130(15), 1339-1352.
  24. Riley, T. V. (2005). Antiviral Activity of Tea Tree Oil–In Vitro and In Vivo. TV Riley – 2005 –
  25. Siddique, S., et al. (2018). Chemical characterization, antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of essential oil from Melaleuca quinquenervia leaves. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, 56, 686-693.
  26. Timpanaro, R., Garozzo, A., Bisignano, B., Stivala, A., Furneri, P. M., Tempera, G., & Castro, A. (2007). Inhibitory effect of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil) on influenza A/PR/8 virus replication. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, (29), S202-S203.
  27. Worth, H., ..& Dethlefsen, U. (2009). Concomitant therapy with Cineole (Eucalyptole) reduces exacerbations in COPD: a placebo-controlled double-blind trial. Respiratory research, 10(1), 69.
  28. Yang, Z., Wu, N., .. & Efferth, T. (2010). Anti-infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) activity of 1, 8-cineole: Effect on nucleocapsid (N) protein. Journal of Biomolecular Structure and Dynamics, 28(3), 323-330.
  29. Zamora, A. C. P. (2015). The Antiviral Properties of Melaleuca alternifolia concentrate (MAC) against West Nile virus (Doctoral dissertation, Griffith University).