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Bacterial vs. Viral Infections

What's the Difference between a Bacterial Infection
and a Viral Infection?

James M. Steckelberg, M.D.

Simply put, bacterial infections are caused by bacteria and viral infections are caused by viruses. But they're also different in other ways.

Bacteria are single-celled "living" microorganisms that reproduce by dividing. Most bacteria can grow on nonliving surfaces, such as countertops and doorknobs. Not all bacteria are harmful. Some bacteria are even beneficial to your health. But when infectious bacteria enter your body, they can make you sick. Bacteria make toxins that can damage the cells they've invaded. Some bacterial infections, such as strep throat and tuberculosis, are contagious. Others are not.

Unlike bacteria, viruses are not "living" organisms but capsules of genetic material. They require living hosts — such as people, plants or animals — to multiply. Otherwise, they can't survive. When a virus enters your body, it invades some of your cells and takes over the cell machinery, redirecting it to produce the virus. The virus may eventually kill the host cells. Some viral infections, such as influenza and HIV, are contagious. Others are not.

The distinction between bacterial and viral infections is important. Why? Because medications that are effective against one aren't effective against the other.

Bacterial infections are treated with antibacterial antibiotics. Antiviral antibiotics are available for some types of viral infections — but not all. Taking antibacterial antibiotics when you have a viral infection won't treat the viral infection and may even be harmful. Consult your doctor for advice on a specific condition.


The following is an excerpt from David Stewart’s book Healing Oils of the Bible.

A Drug’s Weakness Is an Oil’s Strength
The endless and unpredictable variation in the composition of a particular species of oil that is considered so undesirable and disadvantageous to druggists and doctors is, in fact, one of the most desirable and advantageous qualities of an essential oil. Because of their variability and unpredictability, bacteria can never anticipate ways to resist an essential oil. Therefore, resistance to essential oils can never develop. Oils that were effective against bacteria in Egypt and Israel thousands of years ago are just as effective today as they ever were. Their effectiveness will never diminish even thousands of years hence.

As for antibiotics, the days are numbered for every one of them. Doctors have always known this. Some day, when bacteria become resistant to the final and most potent of antibiotics man can produce, then the use of antibiotics in medicine will be over. It will be history – a temporary measure of the medical system during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. These are the decades when using antibiotics will come to a permanent end. So you need to be looking for alternatives. And the best one is essential oils.

While a variety of essential oils are effective against fighting bacteria and so in a way that microbes will never be able to develop a resistance, essential oils also have another advantage. Many are virucides [an agent that neutralizes or destroys a virus].

Antibiotics have no effect on viruses. When they are effective, it is only against bacteria. Hence, antibiotics can never be a cure for the flu or the common flu or the common cold. Many people have already found that oils help support their immune systems against the common vitral infections that visit us annually in their seasons. These people need no double-blind studies to verify their experience. Their experience is sufficient proof.

Antibiotics Are Robots . . . Essential Oils Are Alive
Antibiotics kill off everything indiscriminately, unable to tell one bacteria from another. They are microscopic killing machines, programmed to seek out bacteria without discrimination. In other words, they are brainless robots. They are made by fallible men.

Aromatic [essential] oils know the difference between the bacteria we need and the hostile invaders. They kill off [deactivate] only the invaders, leaving the friendly flora intact. They are made by our infallible God and imbued with His benevolent intelligence.

When we use [essential] oils to fight bad bacteria, our systems come out stronger. Our immune systems have been strengthened. Our beneficial bacteria have been left untouched. We are better able to deal with the next barrage of disease-causing germs that may appear.

Stewart, David Ph.D., Healing Oils of the Bible, Care Publications, 2003, pages 73-74.



The choice of the process used in application of Heritage Essential Oils' products is the sole responsibility of the user.

Information and statements regarding Heritage Essential Oils' products have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health condition or disease.

We do not make any therapeutic claims for any Dietary Supplements in accordance with the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act and FDA regulations.

Heritage Essential Oils and any of its directors, employees, representatives or those involved in blending and bottling the oils will not be liable for damages arising out of or in connection with the use of their products. This is a comprehensive limitation of liability that applies to all damages of any kind, including (without limitation) compensatory, direct, indirect or consequential damages, income or profit and claims of third parties. We disclaim any liability if the user uses or prescribes any remedy or essential oil, natural or otherwise, for him/herself or another. Please consult a licensed healthcare professional should a need be indicated.