Note: This article was originally published in 2014. There have been a couple of updates added at the bottom of the post, for those who want to know how this little experiment worked for us and what edits were made.
We are embarking on a new experiment around here — using essential oils to help manage Ben’s ADHD symptoms. I’m giving it a 30-day trial. I might be a little skeptical, but through prayer and diligence, I am being open-minded.
I’ve been pretty transparent about some of the issues we have dealt with (and continue to deal with) in relationship to Ben’s ADHD. And I’ve shared that we have been medicating him with Concerta off and on since he was 8 (mostly on).
As he enters puberty (Ben is 13 now), we are finding that medication is less effective than it has been in the past, and couple ADHD with raging hormones, and well, it can be pretty intense around here. I have no desire to raise his dose or add even more medications to Ben’s day, so I am seeking God for wisdom in how to manage his symptoms.
I’ve been dabbling in the use of essential oils for about a year now — not very consistently though. It’s been more about putting out fires (using lavender on aching muscles and joints or peppermint for headaches, for example), than the routine use of oils. But after doing quite a bit of research over the past couple of weeks, I am becoming convinced that going this route with Ben (and myself) could prove quite beneficial.
We started this week, after a couple of particularly difficult weeks, and I was surprised today to hear my husband say, “I wish I was having as good a day as Ben is!” Those simple words gave me so much hope. But certainly, it’s far too early to be singing the praises of my concoction of essential oils.
Yes, concoction. I’ve purchased a whole box full of single oils from, and after reading a lot of testimonials and the uses and effects of different oils, I have come up with my own little blend. I am committed to using it for 30 days, mostly topically (bottom of feet, along the spine, back of neck) before making any kind of judgment about the effectiveness of this therapy.
Here is my blend — I am optimistically calling it, “Miracle.” Mix the following into a glass amber bottle. Do not use this blend topically “neat.” It should be mixed with a carrier oil (I add about 15cc jojoba oil and 15 drops of the blend to a roller bottle for convenience). All of the following oils are safe for children over the age of two. Keep in mind, however, that Ben is 13 (basically an adult in essential oil dosing). Check this chart for dilution recommendations for younger children.
You can also diffuse this blend (follow your diffuser’s directions for how much to use). I use this diffuser).
Lavender (Lavendula augustafolia) 40 drops: Lavender oil is known for its skin healing properties and its use as a sedative. It is analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, deodorant, diuretic, emmenagogue, insecticide, nervine, sedative, stimulant, stomachic, vulnerary.
Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) 40 drops: Cedarwood has a long history as an incense and perfume. The wood was burned by the Greeks and Romans to fragrant the air. It is antifungal, antiputrefactive, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, astringent, diuretic, expectorant, insecticide, regenerative, sedative, tonic.
Vetiver (Vetivera zizanoides) 20 drops: Vetiver root has been utilized for its fragrance for many years. It has been used to scent fabric, and woven into baskets, mats, and window coverings. It is analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, cell proliferant, depurative, emmenagogue, rubefacient, sedative, stimulant, tonic, vermifuge, vulnerary.
Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) 20 drops: Frankincense has a long history as incense. It was burned by the Egyptians and is used in many religious ceremonies. Traditionally it has also been used for skin ailments. It is analgesic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiseptic, astringent, carminative, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, sedative, tonic, vulnerary.
Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) 40 drops: Used throughout the fragrance industry. Ylang ylang is also known for its sedative properties. It is antibacterial, antidepressant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, cell proliferant, disinfectant, expectorant, nervine, sedative, vulnerary.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) 40 drops: The health benefits of bergamot can be attributed to its properties as a deodorant, antibiotic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, sedative, analgesic, antidepressant, disinfectant, and digestive aid.
I read about a case study published in the American Medical Association Journal by Dr. Terry Friedmann M.D. with children who had been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. The children inhaled essential oils of vetiver, lavender and cedarwood, one at a time for 30 days each, 3 times a day and as needed. They were also administered via an inhalation device at night (diffused?).
- difficulty sleeping
- quick to anger
- lack of focus
- easily distracted
- easily frustrated
We have seen improvement in sleep already. And Ben recognizes it. For the past 2 nights, he has asked for his oils at bedtime. I don’t even have to talk him into using them. This might be huge. Time will tell.
Some of you are wondering why I choose oils from Rocky Mountain Oils over the more popular MLM brands you usually hear about. There are a couple of reasons. The first reason is that in my research, I have become convinced that no one has the market on pure, unadulterated, organic essential oils. I’ve been using several brands of lavender and peppermint almost daily for the past year on myself and have been very happy with the results.
So, if it’s true that many different companies are selling essential oils that are basically equal in quality and efficacy, then what is the driving factor toward other companies for me? Cost. Pure and simple. RMO is stringent in their testing of oils and shares their GC/MS testing transparently, unlike the popular MLM brands. This gives me the confidence I need to believe I’m using high quality, unadulterated oils at a reasonable cost.
I honestly have no idea if using essential oils for ADHD will help. I am hopeful, but cautious in my optimism. I’ll let you know how it goes, because judging by the popularity of the ADHD series I wrote last year, there are a lot of you out there living with similar kids. I am continuing to read and research, grow and learn. There is still so much I do not know.
Are you using essential oils with your ADHD kids? I’d love to hear about your experiences. What essential oils are you using? How often? How are you using them?
MAY 2015 UPDATE: After a few months of trying these and other combinations of essential oils, this is what I have discovered.
They aren’t a miracle cure. However, they are helpful in certain circumstances. So far, we have not been able take Ben off of medication, but I suspect attempting to do that in the throes of puberty would not be wise to attempt anyway.
Diffusing oils at night is helpful for sleep. Lavender is his personal favorite and he says he feels the most benefit from that. During the day, Ben responds best to (and prefers) a blend of citrus oils (equal parts of Orange, Grapefruit, and Lime) with Rosemary in a roller bottle with fractionated coconut oil). It helps him focus a bit better and really helps his mood (and mine), so I also tend to diffuse these oils as well (Rosemary and Lime together is my personal favorite to diffuse. Sometimes I add Peppermint as well). I allow him to use the roller as often as he feels he needs. He keeps one in his pocket.
Vetiver and Cedarwood are still oils I want to continue pursuing. I continue to use these, along with lavender, topically and diffuse the lavender. I now use these oils at night only, and the citrus/rosemary blend during the day only.
FEB 2016 UPDATE: I’ve recently discovered this blend from Rocky Mountain Oils. It comes already combined with fractionated coconut oil, making it super easy to use since I don’t have to mix it into another bottle or try to measure the correct amounts of essential oils and FCO. If you have children under the age of 12, you’ll want to dilute this blend with even more carrier oil. It is 66% FCO and 34% essential oil blend, so use 3x the number of drops as you would a neat blend. For information about proper dilution rates and which oils are safest for kids, visit this post on using essential oils safely with children.
I have decided less is more. I think in my effort to produce a miracle, I went a bit overboard with mixing too many things. Simpler is better. I think it’s working better to divide my original recipe into 2 blends — one for daytime and one for nighttime. It’s easier to keep up with, less expensive, and the results are easier to quantify. It’s definitely a learning process, but I am willing to continue learning.
Also, I recently came across this article on Dr. Mercola’s site, published a few months ago. I found it supports much of the information I found, which I really appreciate. It’s a good, quick read.
Do you have a child with ADHD? Have you ever tried essential oils? How has it worked for you?
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Never use essential oils undiluted, in the eyes or mucus membranes. Do not ingest unless working with a qualified practitioner. Keep essential oils away from children. If applying an essential oil to your skin always perform a small patch test to an insensitive part of the body (after you have properly diluted the oil in an appropriate carrier oil).
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