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The Coronavirus Pandemic, SARS-CoV-2/ COVID-19 and Essential Oils

The Coronavirus Pandemic, SARS-CoV-2/ COVID-19 and Essential Oils

March 14, 2020 By Maria Hoch

Maria Hoch asked Prof. em. Reichling if he could explain the topic SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 and essential oils in more detail for Aroma Forum International e.V..

The comment of Prof. em. Reichling, (. A. an expert in the field of virus research/ essential oils):

“to your inquiry I can only make speculative statements, because so far no valid data are available. Covid-19 is an RNA virus with a lipophilic envelope and interspersed receptor proteins, which serve the attachment of the viruses to host cells. The RNA genome is a single-stranded RNA with + polarity. A genomic RNA with plus-strand polarity serves 2 different purposes: it serves directly as an mRNA for the translation of viral proteins (including RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, also called transcriptase; RNA replicase), and it is used as a template for the synthesis of complementary minus-strand RNAs, from which new plus-strand RNAs are then synthesized. These are then packaged in a new capsid (capsid = protein shell, capsule in which the RNA is packaged) and together with a new lipophilic envelope, new virus particles are formed that can leave the skin or mucosal cells and infect new cells. So far, all enveloped viruses have been successfully combated with essential oils in vitro. Thus, I assume that this should also be the case with the coronavirus. Empirical data are not yet available. However, the oils are only effective if the virus is outside the eukaryotic cells (e.g. mucosal cells). In addition, a minimum contact of the essential oil with the viruses of an average of 10 minutes is required (this applies at least to herpes viruses) to reduce the viral load in vitro by 50-60%. The viral envelope is destroyed in the process, so that the viruses can no longer penetrate the cell.

Once the virus is inside the cell, it evades the fight with essential oils. I think essential oils would only be suitable for external disinfection, perhaps inhalation would be promising for prevention or perhaps to prevent virus spread in the nasopharynx. This is because to spread, the virus particles must leave the cells, enter the intercellular space, and could be captured by the essential oil there; I realize that this is just speculation (but perhaps not entirely nonsensical nonetheless).

Since viruses are transmitted from one patient to another via droplets rather than the air, spraying essential oils around the room is unlikely to have the desired effect of limiting spread. This assumption is based on the fact that, on the one hand, essential oils would not reach the viruses in the hydrophilic droplets and, on the other hand, the contact time of the extremely volatile essential oils with the viruses is too short. In individual cases, for example, thyme oils, rosemary oil and other essential oils containing monoterpene phenols, monoterpene alcohols or phenylpropanoids could be used for preventive purposes in health care facilities such as clinics, nursing homes and homes for the elderly for disinfection, oral care, rubs, washes, etc.

For general disinfection in broad sections of the population, I consider the use of essential oils impractical, firstly because of the relatively high cost, insufficient data on efficacy and toxicology/allergy. With hand washing and observance of simple aseptic measures such as keeping a distance, not shaking hands, not kissing in greeting, etc.) good results can be achieved.”

There are still no evidence-based studies on the effects of essential oils in covid-19, but antiviral efficacy of quite a few essential oil ingredients are known from scientific studies conducted.


As Prof. Reichling writes, here are some essential oils that contain monoterpene phenols, monoterpenols, phenol propanoid.

er einige ätherische Öle, die Monoterpenphenole, Monoterpenole, Phenolpropanoid enthalten.

Here are some examples of antiviral essential oils

Monoterpenol-containing: bergamot mint, coriander, lavandin, lavender fine, laurel, palmarosa, tea tree, thyme linalool,

Phenol-containing: mountain savory, thyme thymol, oregano

Oxide-containing essential oils also provide their supportive accompaniment in respiratory tract diseases, as well as numerous monoterpene-containing essential oils of coniferous trees and citrus oils

oxide-containing: Cajeput, Eucalyptus globus, Eucalyptus radiata, Cardamom, Laurel, Myrtus communis CT Cineol, Niaouli, Ravintsara, Rosemary CT cineol, Speiclavender, Thyme mastichina

Balsam fir, Douglas fir, Spruce, Maritime pine, Mountain pine, Silver fir, Swiss stone pine

lemon, orange, tangerine red


important-in the coronavirus period- essential oils:

  • strengthen immune system
  • promote health
  • stimulate the self-healing powers

Possible applications


For room scenting:

by means of scent objects either with essential oils or scent compositions in electric scent lamps, diffusers, scent stones pendants, compresses, cellular tablets,

at home additionally: fragrance lamps with tea lights, felt pendants, paper handkerchiefs or even smelling sticks, smelling salt

9-10 drops for a room of 18 m2 i.e. 2 drops per m2


Room fragrance

  • 4 drops of thyme linalool
  • 2 drops of thyme thymol

Put 4 drops of sea pine in a fragrance lamp or drip 5 drops of this mixture into a smelling pen/vial and smell it 3-4 times a day.

Room sprays

  • 40 ml 96% alcohol, 10 ml lemon balm hydrolate or water
  • 5 drops of lavandin
  • 4 drops of sea pine
  • 4 drops of tea tree
  • 4 drops of thyme mastichina



2 drops Ravintsara 1 drop Lavender fine

With an emulsifier, here is suitable, for example, a teaspoon of sea salt or sugar in a bowl, drip essential oils on it, fill the bowl with hot water, close your eyes, tilt your head over the bowl, towel over your head and inhale for about 5-10 minutes (. Until the water has cooled down and no more steam rises).


Strengthening foot bath

  • Put 1 teaspoon of salt in a bowl,
  • 2 drops of thyme linanool or coriander
  • 1 drop of eucalyptus globulus, for children cajeput and
  • Add 2 l of warm -hot water, immerse feet in it so that it is pleasant for the feet.
  • Soak the feet in it as long as the temperature seems soothing.
  • Then oil the feet with a nourishing oil


Nourishing oil to prevent or help with colds:

  • 2 drops of thyme linanol
  • 2 drops of eucalyptus globulus

Mix in 10 ml of St. John’s wort oil and massage into the bathed feet.

This nourishing oil can also be rubbed into the nasal passages and/or the chest or back, as well as the hands.


Study examples

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28296357 – Abstract

Brochot A, Guilbot A, Haddioui L, Roques C. Antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral effects of three essential oil blends. Microbiologyopen. 2017 Aug;6(4). doi: 10.1002/mbo3.459. Epub 2017 Mar 14.


Gelmini F, Belotti L, Vecchi S, Testa C, Beretta G. Air dispersed essential oils combined with standard sanitization procedures for environmental microbiota control in nosocomial hospitalization rooms. Compl Ther  Med. 2016 Apr;25:113-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2016.02.004. Epub 2016 Feb 10.


Wu S, Patel KB, Booth LJ, Metcalf JP, Lin HK, Wu W. Protective essential oil attenuates influenza virus infection: an in vitro study in MDCK cells. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010 Nov 15;10:69. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-10-69.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781119312994.apr0420 Abstract

Reichling, J. Plant-microbe interaction and secondary metabolites with antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. pp. 214-347. In: W. Wink [ed.] 2010. Functions and Biotechnology of Plant Secondary Metabolites. Wiley-Blackwell, West Sussex, United Kingdom.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20096315 Abstract

Jachwood MW, RosenbloomR, Petteruti M, Hilt DA, McCall AW, Williams SM Avian coronavirus infectious bronchitis virus susceptibility to botanical oleoresins and essential oils in vitro and in vivo.Virus Res. 2010 Apr;149(1):86-94. doi: 10.1016/j.virusres.2010.01.006. Epub 2010 Jan 21.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21095205 Abstract

Garozzo A, Timpanaro R, Stivala A, Bisignano G, Castro A. Activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil on Influenza virus A/PR/8: study on the mechanism of action.

Antiviral Res.2011 Jan;89(1):83-8. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2010.11.010. Epub 2010 Nov 21.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21078173– Abstract

Wu S, Patel KB, Booth LJ, Metcalf JP, Lin HK, Wu W. Protective essential oil attenuates influenza virus infection: an in vitro study in MDCK cells. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010 Nov 15;10:69. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-10-69.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19843207– Abstract

Garozzo A, Timpanaro R, Bisignano B, Furneri PM, Bisignano G, Castro A. In vitro antiviral activity of Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2009 Dec;49(6):806-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-765X.2009.02740.x. Epub 2009 Sep 18.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19420953 -Abstract

Reichling, J., P. Schnitzler, U. Suschke, and R. Saller. 2009. Essential oils of aromatic plants with antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and cytotoxic properties – an overview. Forsch. Komplementmed. 16: 79-90.


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