Coronaviruses and essential oils-2 published reviews
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic caused by SARS-CoV-2 – a virus that was first seen in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and subsequently appeared in virtually every country in the world. The designation means that the epidemic of the virus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, has spread internationally, and through local transmission. Efforts to control the epidemic have failed. Pandemic declaration does not mean that the virus has become more infectious or more deadly, nor that individual risk has escalated (other than the risk of catching it). The classification of pandemic means that governments should shift from containment (epidemic control goal) to mitigation of effects (Fischer 2020).
The effects this virus has had on the lives of people around the world cannot be contested – from closed schools, to cancelled sports events and conferences to, in some cases, the quarantine of a whole country. This article will give you some background on the virus and its origins, the ways it impacts the human body, and what we know about essential oils and this type of virus.
By far the best thing you can do to mitigate the pandemic is to follow the recommendations of the WHO and other public health authorities – social distancing and hand hygiene.
Viruses depend on the host cells that they infect in order to reproduce, and there are several stages to host cell viral infection. SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped virus, like influenza A virus (IAV) and there is promising in vitro research on some essential oils and how they interfere with the mechanisms used by the IAV to infect cells. However, while some of these “antiviral” mechanisms may possibly translate to SARS-CoV-2, we don’t yet know if the essential oils are clinically effective for influenza, nor do we have a clear idea on route of administration, dosage, safety, delivery systems and so on. And, we do know there are some fundamental differences between IAV and SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, making any assumptions at this point would be a massive stretch. While claims that essential oils will help protect you from, or treat COVID-19 are not based on evidence, this does not mean you cannot or should not make use of essential oils for respiratory and psychological support.
You probably know the difference between in vitro and in vivo research. The in vitro model is laboratory-based; experiments occur in test tubes or Petri dishes. The in vivo model, in contrast, uses living organisms (animals or humans) to test the actions of molecules or molecular sets. But are you familiar with a third experimental model currently playing an important role in SARS-CoV-2 research?
In silico studies can provide preliminary data to identify compounds of interest. However, in vitro and in vivo studies are needed to confirm their conclusions before implementing them as treatments for COVID-19. In silico studies have identified FDA approved medications that can be useful to treat COVID-19, and similarly, studies of naturally derived compounds may lead to treatments. Based on existing in silico studies, additional in vitro and in vivo studies examining garlic oil, cajeput oil, thymol, 1,8-cineole, carvacrol, (E)-β-farnesene, (E,E)-β-farnesene, (E,E)-farnesol, (E)-nerolidol (or essential oils containing them) are warranted.