11 percent of U.S. children have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is defined by hyperactivity and impulsivity, and pattern of inattention that intervenes with learning and daily functioning. The ADHD rates have been rising by about 5 percent a year!
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the behavior therapy treatment is the first method recommended to children between 2 to 5 years to manage ADHD illness.
But data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that around half of preschoolers with ADHD take medication in combination with some therapy treatment, and 1 in 4 take medication only.
Moreover, only half of the children aging between 4 to 5 years with ADHD received behavior therapy, even though it is the recommended go-to treatment for children. When the children turn 6, the so-called “best practice guidelines” for ADHD involve treatment with both behavior therapy and medication.
Children being prescribed these strong drugs may suffer from side effects such as loss of appetite, sleep problems to seizures and increased heart rate. That’s why alternative treatment options are instantly needed. Fortunately, essential oils can help to relieve the symptoms of ADHD.
Essential oils are aromatic plant extracts that have been used for thousands of years for medical, emotional, cosmetic, and even spiritual purposes. The term “essential oil” comes from the idea of “quintessential oil.” Aristotle considered that in addition to the four physical elements such as fire, air, earth, and water, there was a fifth element, called quintessence.
The quintessence was considered to be the life force or “spirit” of the plant, and distillation or evaporation was used to remove the “spirit” so humans could use it, and we called distilled alcoholic beverages “spirits” because of the same process of distillation and evaporation that the essential oils go through.
Essential Oils May Improve ADHD Symptoms
Research by Dr. Terry S. Friedmann, a physician who thought in treating the mind, body, and spirit as one, proved that vetiver oil (vetiver is a type of Indian grass) was helpful for children with ADHD.
When the kids inhaled the oil three times a day for 30 days, they improved their brain wave patterns, behavior, and went better in school. Also, eighty percent of the children improved ADHD symptoms when using cedarwood oil in a similar way that vetiver oil.
The essential oil cedarwood was used in the study due to its high concentration of sesquiterpenes. The essential oil contains 50 percent of its constituents, which increase oxygenation of brain cells.
According to Friedmann, vetiver is known to be able to calm and balance the nervous system while stimulating the circulatory system. He described: “When the essential oil is inhaled, the microdroplets are carried to the limbic system of the brain, which is that portion that is the processing center for reason, emotion and smell, and to the hypothalamus, which is the hormone command center. The essential microdroplets are also carried to the lungs where they enter the circulatory system.”
Vetiver Essential Oil Could Increase Alertness
A study issued in the Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology showed vetiver essential oil to be able to help with ADHD symptoms. The animal study showed alterations in brain activity, which suggests an increase of alertness. And research on human showed faster reaction times and stimulation of sympathetic nerve activity following inhalation.
The former study’s researchers wrote “Ultimately, the stimulating effects of vetiver EO [essential oil] might be beneficial for learning and memory processes. In conclusion, the present findings provide information that vetiver EO may be used as a stimulant to improve alertness and task performance.”
Lavender, Rosemary, And Other Essential Oils
It’s not only cedarwood and vetiver, but rosemary essential oil also has potential to increase cognitive performance. When the participants of the study concluded tasks in a cubicle diffused with the aroma of rosemary essential oil, their achievement improved in both accuracy and speed.
“The unique relationships between plant essential oil aromas and any behavioral impact are potentially due to the complex molecular composition containing a range of alcohols, aldehydes, acids, phenols, esters, ketones and terpenes. This study supports the suggestion that active compounds present in aromas may be absorbed through the nasal or lung mucosa and thus provide the potential for pharmacological activity… The small size of these lipid-soluble compounds facilitates passage across the blood-brain barrier, and consequently, they may produce effects at the neuronal level by either acting directly on receptor sites or indirectly by impacting on enzyme activity.”
Lavender essential oil is known for its sedative properties. Many people with ADHD have trouble to sleep. Lavender essential oil can improve sleep. Peppermint oil is also can help relieve many symptoms of ADHD as it improves alertness. Other essentials oils that are beneficial to help treat ADHD symptoms are:
Ylang ylang has relaxing properties
Frankincense can induce feelings of mental peace and calm
Bergamot helps reducing feelings of stress and anxiety
Eucalyptus can relieve mental exhaustion and stimulate blood flow to the brain
Lemon can improve mood and prevent emotional outbursts
Parents See Improvements
A mother from Wellington, Florida, Tina Sweet, chatted with WPTV and shared her experience with essential oils as a treatment for ADHD in her 11-year-old son.
“Every single day I was getting (messages from teachers saying) he won’t stay on task. He won’t stay focused. He won’t stay in his seat. He’s talking. He’s just up and running around. He just could not stay focused,” she explained.
And when she decided to use aromatherapy essential oils as a treatment for her son symptoms, she said his grades raised from Cs and Ds to As and Bs. Her son is now in fifth grade, and he is described as a “calm child.” She uses essential oils on several parts of his body in the morning, and he also wears an essential oil bracelet.
How to Use Essential Oils for ADHD
The best way to use the essential oils for ADHS is by inhalation or applying on the skin. You can also use three to four drops of oil into a diffuser. Some of the researchers on essential oils for ADHD had the participants inhaling the scent straight from the bottle for two or three deep breaths three times a day.
Steam inhalation also works and what you need to do is place three to seven drops of essential oil into boiling water, then cover your head with a towel and breathing through your nose, making sure to keep your eyes closed and be careful not to get burned.
If you want to use the essential oils on your skin, make sure to test it first on a small area and leave it for an hour or two to see if your skin has an allergic reaction. Oils must be applied sparingly to your neck, wrists, bottom of feet or behind your ears. You can combine them with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil.