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Winter is coming. And so is the Common Cold.
The common cold, also referred to as the rhinovirus, is the most common upper respiratory inflammatory infection that afflicts adults at least two to four times a year. Symptoms of the common cold include sneezing, coughing, sore throat, congestion, and fatigue.
Aside from feeling under the weather, rhinovirus can lead to other respiratory bacterial infections such as pneumonia, asthma flares, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Eucalyptol is an oxide that gives Eucalytpus, Cajeput, and Ravintsara their signature aromas: sharp, sweet, and refreshing. Outside of essential oils, eucalyptol is also the primary active ingredient Soledum, a medication for sinus and respiratory infections.
Research has indicated that eucalyptol is an excellent anti-viral and anti-inflammatory agent. A study performed by Müller et al concluded that eucalyptol was an effective anti-inflammatory agent on human respiratory cells as well as an effective anti-viral.
How do we know eucalyptol works?
From previous research we are well aware of what happens inside our bodies when a viral infection is underway.
When a virus is able to pass our immune system’s first defense, it starts to replicate itself. In doing so, there is viral RNA and DNA that begins to infect our own cells, when our bodies recognize the foreign DNA pieces, there is a systemic anti-viral response initiated.
Part of the anti-viral response includes the secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Cytokines are regulators of host responses to infection, immune responses, inflammation, and trauma. Some cytokines can make disease worse, for example pro-inflammatory cytokines, most notably Interleukin (IL-1) and Tumor Necrosis Factor-α (TNF-α). Therefore reducing the activities of pro-inflammatory cytokines can be beneficial in treating disease. However not all cytokines are bad. Others can reduce inflammation and promote healing, like anti-inflammatory cytokines, where increasing the activity of these cytokines also promote healing.
Therefore, the presence of cytokines can indicate a viral infection.
Interestingly, the study indicated that viral infected cells treated with euclayptol showed a significant increase of cytokine production, indicating an anti-viral response. However, eucalyptol treated cells showed a decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokine production, minimizing inflammation.
As mentioned previously, viral infections can lead to bacterial infections due to a compromised immune system. The study wanted to test how effective eucalyptol was in preventing a secondary bacterial infections from occurring. Results indicated that eucalyptol was in fact effective in preventing secondary infections due to the decreased production of cytokines, and an increase in immune response.
Overall, the study concluded that eucalyptol was in fact effective in treating rhinovirus symptom’s by decreasing overall inflammation and promoting an anti-viral response.
What do we like about this study?
This study did a very excellent job in investigating the biological impact of eucalyptol during a system viral infection. Their research was extensive and had a very thorough explanation of all results observed.
Overall, this study was one of the first studies to illustrate the anti-viral potential of eucalyptol.
What we don’t like about this study?
Unfortunately, as with many studies regarding essential oils and their compounds, this is an in vitro study. Thankfully the study did use human nasal cell tissues in order to produce their results, which are very promising.
Additionally, this study is not user friendly to those that do not have a background in biochemistry. That being said, this is one of the greater strengths of the study, as they looked at the biological impact of eucalyptol on viral infected cells.