Bacterial vs. Viral Infections: How Essential Oils Compare With Modern Medicine (Part 1 of 2)

Posted on November 16, 2011 | In FAQ

Written by, Becki Andrus

Common illness (such as a head cold, sinus infection, sore throat, earache, flu, etc.) typically result from one of two causes: bacterial infections or viral infections. Bacteria and viruses are all around us, and our immune system is designed to fight off these bugs in order to prevent the illness from setting in. But, sometimes it happens that we get sick, and at that point the first step for most people is to go to the doctor.

For a minor illness such as the common cold or the flu, there are two main outcomes that can be expected at the doctor’s office:

  • If it’s a bacterial infection, then you will likely be prescribed an antibiotic.
  • If it’s a viral infection, then you will likely be told to go home to rest and drink lots of fluids in order to let the virus run it’s course.

It can be frustrating to go to the doctor and pay a co-pay, only to have a 3 minute consultation and be told to drink lots of fluids and take it easy! The reason antibiotics are not prescribed for viral infections is because the antibiotic is not able to penetrate the cell walls where the virus resides. Additionally, viruses are not alive; a virus it is a piece of DNA that injects itself into a living cell.


Bacteria reside on the OUTSIDE the cell walls, which is why antibiotics can help to eliminate the bacterial pathogens. But, viral infections reside INSIDE the cell walls– and antibiotics are unable to penetrate the cell wall, which makes them useless for a viral infection.

Using essential oils is a great option for both bacterial and viral infections, because the essential oils are able to get the bacteria on the outside if the cell wall and it can penetrate the cell walls to get to the virus as well.

Antibiotic Resistance in Our Modern World

If the doctor discovers that you have a bacterial infection, the treatment procedure of an antibiotic may help to reduce the pathogens that are present– but might not necessarily be the best option available. The reason that antibiotics can still be a problem is because of the growing concern about bacterial resistance to antibiotics. These medications can be very powerful to eliminate bacterial infections, but the problem lies in the fact that they are over-prescribed which is causing the resistance.

When antibiotics are used so frequently, the bacterial pathogens begin to mutate and adapt so that the antibiotics are not able to kill the bacteria. This antibiotic resistance is a real problem, because of the fact that stronger strains of bacteria are developing and more people are suffering from life-threatening bacterial infections because their immune system isn’t able to eliminate the pathogens. Everyone is familiar with terms such as MRSA, E Coli, Staph, etc… all of these bacterial infections are becoming more common, when not too long ago these infections were rare.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Antibiotic use has been beneficial and, when prescribed and taken correctly, their value in patient care is enormous. However, these drugs have been used so widely and for so long that the infectious organisms the antibiotics are designed to kill have adapted to them, making the drugs less effective. Many fungi, viruses, and parasites have done the same. Some microorganisms may develop resistance to a single antimicrobial agent (or related class of agent), while others develop resistance to several antimicrobial agents or classes. These organisms are often referred to as multidrug-resistant or MDR strains. In some cases, the microorganisms have become so resistant that no available antibiotics are effective against them.

Numerous research studies have found that essential oils can inhibit the growth of bacteria, including these multidrug-resistant strains. So, even though there are times that antibiotics may not effectively able to eliminate the infection, essential oils can still fight the pathogens that have become resistant to the antibiotics. Additionally, researchers are discovering that pathogens do not build up a resistance to the essential oils, so essential oils can be used without the fear of bacterial resistance. Because of these facts, you can see that essential oils are a great option to treat infections!

Cost of Medications vs. Essential Oils

Having essential oils available in your medicine cabinet at home is one of the best ways to avoid high medical costs. For example, if someone in your family comes down with a bacterial infection, these are the common costs that will be incurred out of pocket:

  • Initial doctor’s office co-pay: $20 – $30
  • Prescription co-pay: $10 – $30
  • Possible follow-up doctor’s appointment (depending on the condition): $20 – $30
  • Total cost out-of-pocket: $50 – $90

Conservatively speaking, it might “only” cost $50 out-of-pocket if you have a good insurance plan with low co-pays. In comparison, a few drops of essential oils may cost anywhere from $.50 to a few dollars– and you don’t have to worry about antibiotic resistance or the trip to the doctor’s office and pharmacy.

Remember that these cost estimates are assuming that you have insurance. If an insurance plan is not available, then the costs will be even higher!

Because essential oils are more effective and cheaper than some of the modern medical options that are available for bacterial infections, I prefer to use my oils FIRST… and then consider other treatment options if needed. But, the oils usually take care of the problem right away, so my doctor’s visits are very rare.

Tomorrow, will be the 2nd part of this article– we will be discussing modern medical options that are available for viral infections and how they compare with essential oil options. Check back here for the rest of the story! Also, be sure to sign up for my Essential Oils Newsletter to stay up-to-date on all of the new information that is posted each week.

With love,
Becki :)



Cold/flu season is just getting started, but you can be prepared by having the essential oils on hand that are needed to protect the health of your family! Click here to buy high quality essential oils, or feel free to contact me anytime if you have any questions.

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