Medication and Treatment Reviews

Essential Oils

Aromatherapy compounds used to treat various symptoms associated with ADHD

What is it?

Essential oils are concentrated liquids containing aroma compounds from plants that are dispersed into the air using diffusers, or mixed with “base oils” to be applied to the skin. Certain essential oils — like lavender, peppermint, and chamomile — are thought to help with stress, inattention, and insomnia, and are often used as a natural ADHD treatment or relaxation technique.

How do essential oils work?

Essential oils are made by distilling raw plant material using steam heat. The volatile compounds — the parts of the plant that hold aroma — are vaporized using steam, then re-condensed into a highly concentrated liquid.

The scent of essential oils is thought to stimulate the limbic system — a part of the brain involved in memory, behavior, motivation, and emotion. Pure essential oils are quite strong, and need to be diffused or diluted (usually using a mild “base oil” like coconut or almond) to avoid being overwhelming or dangerous. Electric or reed diffusers can disperse the scent of essential oils throughout a small room, while properly diluted essential oils can be applied to the skin in small amounts to maintain the desired effect.

Different essential oils are thought to have different effects:

Lavender oil is thought to produce a calming effect, helping with insomnia, panic attacks, and general anxiety.

Chamomile oil is similarly thought to help manage anxiety and stress. However, people with ragweed allergies may also be allergic to chamomile.

Peppermint oil is thought to increase focus and promote wakefulness.

Orange oil is thought to help manage depression and boost mood.

Who are essential oils for?

In some people, essential oils can cause side effects, most often headaches or nausea. Pregnant women are advised to avoid essential oils, as a heightened sensitivity to smells and tastes can increase the likelihood of nausea. The use of lavender oil has been linked to breast growth in prepubescent boys, and should be discussed with a doctor. Essential oils should almost never be applied directly to the skin in their undiluted form, as they can cause allergic reactions or reach toxic levels in the body. Never take essential oils by mouth.

How much do they cost?

Essential oils range in cost, depending on their quality and volume. Most high quality essential oils cost anywhere from $10-$60 for 15 ml. Only a few drops are needed at a time, however.

What studies have been done on essential oils?

Studies on essential oils have had mixed results, and some experts caution that the difficulty in making these studies truly double blind may have had a confounding effect on the outcomes. A 2012 meta-analysis of studies on essential oils used to treat several conditions — including anxiety and depression — concluded that, “the evidence is not sufficiently convincing that aromatherapy is an effective therapy for any condition.” However, a 1995 study from the Mie University School of Medicine in Japan found that patients on depressants were able to reduce their dose after being treated with citrus oil, and a 2000 study from the University of Vienna found that orange oil reduced anxiety in female patients.

Where can I learn more?

The University of Maryland Medical Center has an overview of aromatherapy and the use of essential oils, available HERE. A summary of the research conducted on essential oils can be found on the University of Minnesota’s website.

Sources:

https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/lavender-tea-tree-oils-may-cause-breast-growth-boys
http://www.yalescientific.org/2011/11/aromatherapy-exploring-olfaction/
http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/aromatherapy
http://www.maturitas.org/article/S0378-5122(12)00006-0/abstract
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11134689
https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/aromatherapy/what-does-research-say-about-essential-oils

5 reviews

  1. Yes! EO’s do work! We use InTune on feet in the morning. It’s amazing. Some days I have to use it 2-3 times. I can definitely tell when I don’t use it. Let me know if you need more information. My son will ask for it when he is doing homework!

  2. My 7-year-old daughter and I both have ADHD and we’ve been using doTerra essential oils for about 3 months and are loving it we use InTune, Peaceful Child, Pure Focus; every single morning they are in roller bottles super easy to put on and they last for the first part of the morning and then we put it on again at lunch time. at bedtime we use serenity which puts us both to sleep I used all my oils on my three girls and anybody else who needs it most amazing and wonderful discovery and I’ll never stop using essential oils. There’s an oil for every type of discomfort ailments disability disease; you name it and it’s is out there!
    P.S. I’ve also started using energy stones

  3. I enjoy Young Living essential oils. My son uses Vetiver and Cedarwood on his big toe and on the back of his neck, but refuses Lavender because the smell offends him (silly boy, lavender is the best smelling of the bunch). I find that when I use them, he does great. When I forget/get busy in the daily grind, I get a call from the school. I understand the concerns about the product being in the higher cost range, but for me, the quality is worth it when researching the creation/seed to seal process compared to contracting with outside vendors. Everyone has their beliefs and opinions and I am always happy to hear and respect everyone’s thoughts, but in my personal experience, I really enjoy what these oils have done for my family.

  4. Focus Essential oil blend has worked well for my son. He definitely concentrates on homework better and is calmer. It is by Biosource Naturals. There is a website with a lot of information about it. I bought it on Amazon. It has lavender, vetiver and cedarwood which all help ADHD and ASD. I put the concentrate in an oil burner so the room smells. It has a roll on goo with carrier oil so we apply it to the feet at night and back of neck night morning. It is a lot less expensive than Young Living or DoTerra and works pretty well.

  5. We have used essential oils for stress and to help with sleep. I also think taking a good quality supplements helps. But they are expensive when the quality is there. Supplements for instances should not have sugars, dyes or fillers. Many of the over counter ones do.

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