We get a lot of requests asking if aromatherapy can help with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder) and Autism.
To answer your question – Yes, aromatherapy can help with each one of these, in varying degrees.
When we look at a case of ADD or ADHD, we need to look at the age of the child, as most requests for suggestions are from parents or other relatives, sometimes teachers.
Something we ask about is if the child is on medications of any kind, if they have already had their diet changed to limit or eliminate processed sugars and other processed foods. And next, Please let your physician or health care worker know you want to try aromatherapy too.
Also are they getting plenty of outdoor exercise each day with a dose of daily sunshine.
You as a parent, need to keep a journal of the events and results while using essential oils. Because, only you know your child or children and so you will have to evaluate their reactions.
But before even using essential oils here are a few suggestions.
Write down some of your concerns, behavioral complaints, etc. Then rate each one and don’t forget to record the date. Write down what essential oil you are going to be using, etc and anything you can use to help you document the reactions.
We suggest a nightly, bedtime ritual that you should try to stick to, including the weekends.
Try to establish a morning routine, so as to not spark confrontations early in the day.
About 1 hour before bedtime you should let your child or children (everyone needs to participate whether or not they have ADD, ADHD or autism) know that bedtime is in an hour.
Make sure they respond to you and you to them by using their name. “Johnny, bedtime is about an hour away”, make sure they respond with something verbally or at least a head nod with eye contact, or something, so you and they know they have been ‘told’. This is going to help stop confrontations.
Then we highly suggest a warm bath about ˝ hour before bedtime. NOT a shower, but a nice warm bath. Soothing, relaxing. Sure they can play with a toy or two. Let them enjoy their warm bath for no less then 10 minutes but no more than 20 minutes.
Dry them and have them put their pajamas on, then have a story time of about 10 minutes. A quiet time routine.
With children we usually suggest starting out simply by using Lavender at bedtime.
When you tell them that it is about an hour before bedtime or just prior to their warm bath – diffuse several drops of Lavender essential oil (or another if that one is suggested to use for this child) in their bedroom.
Also add a drop to each end of their pillow, so no matter which way they turn their head, they will get a ‘whiff’ of the Lavender. Any of the essential oils with sedating properties can be used. Lavender being number one choice, but Roman Chamomile is another excellent oil.
I’m sure you are wondering why we start here at the bedtime hour. For many children and parents this seems to be one of the most trying times of the day. Not only are we trying to establish a routine bedtime ritual but we are trying to train the body that is it now time to wind down for the day so we can get a ‘good nights sleep’!!
As an adult, you know how you feel when you don’t sleep good, or when you toss and turn all night. NOW, imagine a child, who never really gets a good nights’ sleep. They may have slept for 9-10 hours but did they have good sleep?
Children with ADD, ADHD and Autism all need good restful sleep.
Remember they need to be well rested to PAY attention, to concentrate, to learn.
Often times these kids, who are hypersensitive to every external stimuli carry it on in through their sleep. Their sleep is not met with good sleep patterns.
So, back to the matter, we are going to start with Lavender at bedtime.
Next after a few days to a couple weeks of using Lavender at bedtime – if you have been keeping a journal – you will hopefully see some type of improvement in behavior, sleep, school and /or at play.
If this seems to be helping, continue with the Lavender at bedtime but now we are going to add some more essential oils during the day. Again, start slowly.
The next part of the day can also be very trying and tiring. After school or the time between 2:30 and 5:00 in the afternoon.
You might just be getting home from work or afternoon appointments and the kids are getting home from school or after school activities. Everyone is tired and most likely hungry too.
Now is the time to start diffusing some relaxing and calming oils. To help everybodies nerves.
If your child is very wound up when they come home from school or the daycare, give them a moment or two of your undivided attention, but then, let them know they will need to let you calm down and relax too after a busy day.
The next bunch of oils we recommend is not only for the child but for the entire family.
Lavender, Sandalwood, Geranium, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Roman Chamomile, Neroli and Rose Otto.
Bergamot, Ylang Ylang and Clary Sage, Marjoram, Petitgrain and Rosewood
Again, as you continue to read, you may find one or more of these are better for your ADD/ADHD/Autistic child more than others.
The child and the parents are all a little tired after a busy day, and now you have a child that wants to tell you everything or have you do this or that and phew!!
I’m tired just thinking of it and I’ve had a busy day and there’s laundry to do, beds to make, supper to cook, and a meeting at 7 and STOP!!!! Talk about being hyperactive!! So, it’s time for everyone to slow down!!
Some great oils to help to relax come in a few of our blends. They actually work better in a synergistic blend then individually. (Although you may find one of the oils in the blend will work better alone and so by all means use that one.)
Our suggested blend is our Calming blend. Or you might want to start with Relaxing blend or the Take Five blend.
Diffuse one of these blends through the supper hour, then stop. Give an hour or two break before the bedtime ritual starts.
The next part is to help with concentration. The best oils to help with concentration are usually a blend again. But you can try each of these alone to see how they work.
First choices are Lemon, Rosemary and Basil Any of these alone may help, but in combination they are even better for most people. They seem to help these kids become alert (remember back to the poor night’s sleep) and are able to concentrate and focus.
Although some children respond better to other members of the citrus family such as: Mandarin, Tangerine or Grapefruit. You may want to let your child sniff each one and ask which one is their favorite.
Give that one a try for a few days. Or start with Lemon for a week, then switch to another for a week, etc. Remember you are keeping track of things in a journal.
Oops, forgot to tell you when to use this. You will want to use this just before they head off to school. Then the easiest way is to apply a drop or two on a Terra Cotta Pendants or use another type of aromatherapy jewelry.
Unfortunately for some children, school Physical Education classes may make them remove all jewelry and metal clasps can be difficult for small fingers and very trying to a child with ADD, AHD or autism.
An alternative is to use a Aromatherapy Lapel Dot it to the inside of their shirt or blouse and add a drop of oil on the pad. Have the pad with the oil drop placed between the pad and the shirt material.
We don’t want undiluted essential oils to touch the skin of your child as some citrus oils can cause a skin reaction (phototoxic reaction) to occur and we don’t want that to happen.
The other two oils to help with memory and of course concentration are Rosemary and Basil. Rosemary may be the more helpful of these two essential oils for children.
If you don’t want to try individual oils you can try our Concentration blend which is a blend of Lemon, Rosemary and Basil
There was a study done by a Medical Doctor from 1999 to 2001, he compared the effects of Lavender, Cedarwood, Vetiver on children with ADD and ADHD.
According to the study, there was marked improvements in all the these children with most showing improvements in brain activity, sleeping and more, while using these essential oils.
Although we have never used Vetiver or Cedarwood alone for ADD/ADHD children, we do know that in some people, since these are considered ‘grounding’ essential oils, these oils appear to help them to calm down too.
Although this is just a start, Essential oils can help. Remember, each person, whether child or adult has their own unique chemical makeup including imbalances.
Since essential oils are made up of different chemical constituents that will work differently in each person, you may need to try different combinations.
If you have tried the above suggested routine and still need help ‘tweaking’ it or need suggestions on other oils that might help please e-mail us.
Usually the essential oils listed in this article will be the ones of choice that will give the best results.
If you have other issues you would like to address please see our listing of past newsletters and read through them to find recipes and other essential oils that may be just the right combination for your child.
Adults can have ADD, ADHD and Autism too. But the older you get and as you go through puberty the body goes through many hormonal and chemical changes. What may work for children, may or may not work for adults.
You should certainly start with the suggested oils in this article but realize an adults’ body and chemical makeup may be different and require entirely different blends.
Be patient, and continue to work with the essential oils. Keep your journals, and review them. Hopefully with time you will find the right combination that will work for you and your child.
If you have any success stories you would like to share, please send them to us. What helps your child might be able to help another. And as a parent of a child with ADD and ADHD you know how much any kind of help would be appreciated.
We will share any information we receive in future newsletters – with an UPDATE notice.
We do hope this information will help many of you with children or adults with ADD, ADHD or Autism.To the Top of the Page
Mandarin – 20 drops
Basil – 10 drops
Rosemary – 5 drops
Place all in an amber bottle and mix well. Then use in any diffuser or smell from a personal inhaler.
Bergamot FCF – 7 drops
Geranium – 3 drops
Clary Sage – 4 drops
Sunflower oil - 1 ounce
Blend together and massage the back of the child. Proceed slowly and lightly and only for a few minutes.
If well tolerated and over time you can lengthen the time of the massage.
Lavender - 40 drops
Roman Chamomile - 40 drops
Mandarin – 60 drops
Sunflower oil– 1 tablespoon
Mix together in a PET bottle then add only 3 drops to the bath tub. No more. Swish around, let the child enjoy the tub for 10-20 minutes.
The small amount of carrier oil in this recipe may make the tub or child slippery, but be aware that carrier oils in the bath tub can leave a bath tub ring and could make them very slippery.
Rosemary - 6 drops
Juniper berry - 3 drops
Add the essential oils to a bath tub filled with warm water, add a teaspoon of sweet almond oil, swish around.
Then enjoy a refreshing and stimulating bath. Do not use this recipe before bedtime. This is not a blend necessarily for children. It is more for adults.
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