Exploring Terpene Therapies

Beyond the virucidal qualities of the essential oils listed below, specific plant oils can also address microbial populations. Besides their virucidal qualities several of them are also anti-inflammatory, help to expel excess mucous and are mood modulators. Essential oils 'side-effects' are positive! 

Lung infections and complications are directly linked to an intense inflammatory reaction following a bacterial superinfection in the pulmonary alveoli. This superinfection triggers in certain subjects a “storm” of pro-inflammatory cytokines (communication molecules between immune cells, hepatic cells, etc). The latter then produce flows of free oxygen radicals (RLO), which damage the alveolar mucosa and contribute to the severity of pneumonia.

There are a few strategies using essential oils being explored in France. The following 3 essential oils are part of a protocol currently in the clinical testing phase in a hospital environment.

  1. It is necessary and possible to control the exaggerated appearance of damaged tissue cells with the essential oil of pistachio mastic (Pistacia lentiscus), in synergy with the essential oils of globular eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) and noble laurel (Laurus nobilis).
  2. By neutralizing the pathogenic bacteria of the intestine before they migrate towards the lungs, with the essential oil of Spanish thyme with thymol ( Thymus zygis subsp. Gracilis) with antiviral, antibacterial broad-spectrum and anti-inflammatory properties. The other phenols like carvacrol, xanthorrhizol and eugenol have slightly less similar activity. To be effective, this essential oil must be used both orally (1 drop, 3 times a day) and rectally, alternating with the essential oils of §1 at the rate of a 300 mg suppository 2 times per day (or one instillation per rectal bulb).
  3. It is also important to address and anticipate possible sepsis (sepsis) using the essential oil of cubèbe ( Piper cubeba ), to be taken orally at the rate of 2 drops per dose, 3 times a day.

List of Herbs with Highest Content of Virucidal Terpenes

Nigella sativa - aka Black Cumin Seed, Love-in-a-Mist (chemotype: thymoquinone)

Monarda fistulosa (chemotype: thymoquinone)

Eucalyptus (chemotypes: citridora, globulus, radiata)

Bay Laurel

Ravintsara aromatica (Cinnamomum camphora cineolifera)

Green Myrtle

Thymus vulgaris (chemotypes: thymol, linalool, p-cymene, thymoquinone)

Origanum marjoram

Marjoram vulgare (wild)

Hyssops officinalis (chemotype: decumbens)

MQV - Melaleuca quinquenervia viridiflora

Tea Tree - Melaleuca alternifolia

Agonis fragrans (also known as Taxandria fragrans, common name: Fragonia)

Coriandrum sativum

Rosemary (chemotype: cineole)

Various Pine & Fir Trees

Mandarin (chemotype: p-cymene)

Ginger Root

Clove Buds

Cinnamon bark & leaf

Melissa officinalis - Lemon Balm

Lavendula angustifolia (French variety is more anti-inflammatory)

Lavendula spicea (Spike variety is more anti-viral)

Please note, one must use CAUTION with essential oils as they are potent and some are not safe to put directly onto the skin and must be diluted into carrier oils or topical creams/lotions or diluted to 5% or less. The FDA and cosmetic regulations allow up to 2% for consumer safety.

The Renaissance of Terpene Therapies

Remember bubonic plague? In our modern world plague has not gone away. Outbreaks still occur. In 2014 and again in 2017 there were outbreaks of plague in Madagascar. Even with antibiotics, 71 and 221 people died in each outbreak. What was troubling about these 2 outbreaks is the discovery of antibiotic resistant strains of Y. pestis bacteria. (https://aac.asm.org/content/50/10/3233). Scientists concluded that anti microbial resistant Y. Pestis was “not an isolated event.” And that the “potential for continued emergence. . .to other parts of the world. . .poses a global threat.”

Closer to home there are other antibiotic resistant bacteria, the most well known ones are MRSA (which you can contract in hospitals) and ‘flesh-eating’ bacteria. Other drug resistant microbes include pneumonia, E. Coli, gonorrhoea, staphylococcus, tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, and influenza (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antimicrobial-resistance). According to the CDC “there are over 2.8 million people in the US each year that are infected with an antibiotic resistant bacteria or fungi, and more than 35,000 people die as a result.” (https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/about.html).

Colistin is an antibiotic used as a “last resort treatment” when all other antibiotic treatments have failed. Colistin resistant strains have begun to be found globally, causing alarm within the scientific community. Without Colistin to treat bacterial infections, we have no further defense against those bacteria or fungi.


There has been growing discussion that after less than 100 years, we may be at the end of the era of antibiotics. With a complete lack of stewardship, the net effect of the widespread use of antimicrobials has been an accelerated breeding of resistant bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This is not only in humans, but over 70% of our antibiotics go to the agriculture industry to use on animals in meat production.

What a society believes, their cosmology, changes slowly. The theory of 4 humors dominated medical thinking for over 2000 years, from the Ancient Greek to the 1850’s. Science as a method of knowledge accumulation, is a collection of inter-related theories. With new data and new technologies, theories change. That’s the beauty of science. With crisis and challenges to the model, the models change.

Science is studying plants to find their essential molecules in order to make patentable, heroic medicines. Their research legitimizes plant based medicines in the eyes of science and history. With new knowledge the collective consciousness is starting to shift. The truth is we don’t always need heroic medicine, and we can use other modalities of healing for prevention and general health.

I believe we are on the verge of a new renaissance in plant knowledge. Our medical models and protocols are being challenged by 21st century illnesses. From zoonotic viruses, to antibiotic resistant bacterium, to lifestyle diseases like diabetes, to mental health illnesses such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, PTSD, and schizophrenia; modern medicine is unable to find cures.

Herbology is a vastly older modality of medicine. It embodies the belief that we can be an active part of our own health. Plants are all around us. They are our allies. By trusting and adopting plant based medicine, we are empowered to proactively care for ourselves. By re-establishing our relationship with plants, we become a part of nature, re-connected with the seasons. Plants deserve our trust as safer and better ways to heal and treat our bodies. We have co-evolved together, and we are inter-connected. We share the Earth together; it has been this way for a long time, and it will continue.