When you have a Wandering Mind, you might struggle with concentration problems, overstimulation and finding it difficult to relax. Maybe you've given a label, like ADHD, autism or high sensitivity. More and more people, who struggle with these symptoms, are looking for natural or alternative treatments. They, like us, look at their symptoms from a holistic perspective. Aromatherapy, that works with essential oils, can help us manage our difficulties with focus, overstimulation & relaxation.
Some essential oils have a calming effect on children and adults. Others help us focus and concentrate. They give us the brain power we need at that moment.
In this article, you will find everything about aromatherapy for the Wandering Mind, and the best essential oils for children and adults with ADHD or ADD.
This article is written in collaboration with an aromatherapist. However, it is not a substitute for professional medical advice. In case of serious health problems, always contact your doctor or health practitioner.
What is Essential Oil?
Essential oils are highly concentrated oils made from plants, flowers, leaves, roots or wood. The oil is extracted by means of distillation and cold pressing. In cold press extraction, a large amount of plant material is pressed with great pressure until the natural compounds are released. This method results in a highly concentrated oil. In addition, all the beneficial properties of the plant are being preserved in the oil.
Essential oil for ADHD and ADD
Essential oils are gaining in popularity, and more and more scientific research is being done into the possible benefits of aromatherapy. It is not only about the wonderful smell of the essential oil that we enjoy. We also experience other benefits (depending on the type of oil), such as relaxation and improved concentration.
As an adult with ADD (diagnosed at age 28), I have been using essential oils for years. I especially love peppermint oil, sandalwood oil and lavender oil. Peppermint oil helps me to relax and focus, and lavender oil helps me to improve my sleep.
Recently, I started using two other essential oils. A friend from Brazil works as an aromatherapist, and she shared her advice. Two essential oils, in particular, are perfect for children and adults with ADHD, she told me. These are cedarwood oil and vetiver oil. When we use them in the right way, as we share more about later, they can have a big impact on our wellbeing.
Essential oil for ADHD: how does it work?
It may sound crazy; an oil that can help us with ADHD symptoms. But the beneficial effects of concentrated oil are being researched more and more. How exactly does this work?
Children and adults with ADHD suffer from concentration problems, hyperactivity, difficulty relaxing, internal and external chaos and overstimulation. Essential oils can help alleviate these complaints. For example, some oils, such as lavender, help us relax. Other oils support our concentration, help to counteract overstimulation or support our sleep.
The best essential oils for concentration problems and overstimulation
Research shows that two essential oils help with ADHD or related complaints such as concentration problems and overstimulation. These are cedarwood oil and vetiver oil.
Cedar wood for ADHD
One of the essential oils that we hear more and more about is cedar wood. Cedarwood has a calming effect on our nervous system. Therefore, this oil is suitable for children and adults with ADHD who struggle with overstimulation. It has calming and relaxing properties, can help us fall asleep faster, and it improves the depth of our sleep.
Vetiver for ADHD and ADD
Another oil increasingly used by children and adults with ADHD is vetiver, an oil extracted from a grass native to India.
Friedmann conducted research on essential oils in children with ADHD, and his conclusion is that vetiver calms down the nervous system and improves the oxygen supply to the brain. Children with ADHD inhaled vetiver oil three times a day for 30 days, and the brain wave patterns measured by an EEG improved significantly. The behavior and school performance of the children who participated in the study also improved. In addition, vetiver appears to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety (it is sometimes even compared to the effect of Diazepam, an addictive drug), but more research is needed.
Another study, published in the Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology also found an increase in attentional levels, measured in the brain. Vetiver seems to be beneficial for the improvement of learning and memory processes. Even at a low inhalation dose, it appeared to have a stimulant effect. It improves alertness and task performance.
More research is needed to draw scientific conclusions, but the initial results are promising.
Other essential oils for relaxation & concentration
In addition to cedarwood and vetiver, which have been researched, there are other oils that help relieve ADHD symptoms.
Essential oil for better concentration:
Essential oil for relaxation (for stress, anxiety and overstimulation):
- (Roman) chamomile
Well-known essential oil brands are doTERRA and Young Living. We always prefer using organic essential oils.
How do we use essential oils in the right way?
We can use essential oil in different ways. A popular way is to slowly diffuse the oil with a (cold) diffuser. But we can also apply the oil to our skin by diluting it with a base oil such as almond oil, coconut oil or grapeseed oil.
Essential oil is highly concentrated, and for safe use, it is essential to dilute the oil when applying it directly to our skin. Another great way to use essential oil is in the bath. Add a few drops to your warm water (optionally dissolved in a little grain alcohol for better distribution). When you don't have a bath, you can drop a few drops into the corner of the shower and let the steam from the shower disperse the oil. Enjoy!
Is it safe to use essential oil?
Essential oils are 100% natural, but this does not automatically mean they are safe to use. We have to take some things into consideration. For example, it is important to use the right amount, because some essential oils have toxic properties if used excessively. It is also usually not recommended applying the oil directly to our skin, because this can cause hypersensitivity, irritation and allergic reactions. Taking the oil in its pure form is not recommended.
Before using an essential oil, it is important to read the recommendations for use on babies, children, adolescents, pregnant women, people with high blood pressure, epilepsy, and people who are taking medication. Certain components of some medicines interact with the components of some essential oils, and using them together is not recommended.
There is no evidence that essential oils can be harmful to people with ADHD specifically. A specialist such as an aromatherapist or other healthcare provider can help and advise you.
Are essential oils a miracle cure for ADHD?
Some essential oils are promising when it comes to alleviating ADHD symptoms such as insomnia, difficulty concentrating and overstimulation. But it is not a miracle cure, and certainly not a ‘quick fix'. If you are going to experiment with essential oil; give yourself time and don't expect all your ADHD symptoms to go away right away.
A quick fix for ADHD
Many people who look for alternative treatments for ADHD are quick to conclude that these alternatives don't work. What is expected is an immediate result, a ‘quick fix', as it sometimes occurs with medication. But if you want to manage your ADHD (or your child(ren)'s ADHD) naturally, from a holistic perspective, it's important to realize that improvement takes time. Whether you are going to use supplements, aromatherapy or work with a homeopath or orthomolecular therapist; you will not get rid of all your ADHD symptoms within a few weeks. But every step you take will make you feel better. In addition, this way, you slowly work towards a sustainable solution for your ADHD complaints.
Here's what science says about essential oils
Several (small-scale) studies have been conducted on essential oil for ADHD. More research is needed. Would you like to read more? Here's some research on aromatherapy:
Other alternative medicine for ADHD
Not only essential oils can have an alleviating effect on ADHD symptoms. There are more options when it comes to alternative therapies. Think of homeopathy, supplements and orthomolecular medicine and acupuncture. Which alternative treatment for ADHD has helped you? Which essential oils do you like to use? We would love to hear your experience in the comments!