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This guide is not intended as a comprehensive guide to using essential oils in your home, but it’s a high level overview that covers the essentials. If this is a topic that’s of particular interest to you, work with an aromatherapist or another healthcare practitioner. The book Essential Oil Safety by Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young is an excellent reference guide to invest in if aromatherapy is an important part of your lifestyle. (Grab a copy here!)
What are essential oils? Essential oils are aromatic plant extracts distilled from flowers, leaves, seeds, roots, peel, and bark of plants. Aromatherapy is the practice of using the extracts. Aromatherapy can promote a sense of calm, improve sleep, reduce pain, decrease nausea, and promote healthy skin — when used correctly. Numerous studies have shown that there is a connection between smells and emotions, and aromatherapy taps into this principal.
How can my family use essential oils? Grownups can use essential oils through diffusion, topically, or taken internally. When using essential oils with children, they can be diffused or diluted and applied topically. If diffusing, use a water-based diffuser that can be set to automatically turn off like this one. If using topically, you can dilute in a carrier oil or cream. I recommend the following carrier oils: Vitamin E, almond, or coconut. A Vitamin E or goats milk cream could also be used. Essential oils should be diluted to .25% (1 drop per 4 teaspoons of carrier) or .5% (1 drop per 2 teaspoons of carrier). Especially if your child is sensitive, start by diluting to .25% to see how she reacts. Store prepared topical dilutions in dark, airtight containers at room temperature. If you’ve diluted in a carrier oil that’s a liquid at room temperature, it can double as a room spray. You can use an essential oil room spray to freshen a stinky bathroom, “diffuse” on the go, or make a monster spray for nighttime. (These amber spray bottles are perfect!)
What precautions should I take? Because essential oils are super potent, there are a few precautions to take. First, do not use essential oils for a child under 3 months without permission from a healthcare provider. Do not use a diffuser with an open flame. Essential oils are flammable and could catch fire if the flame isn’t monitored. Change out the water in your diffuser daily and clean it regularly. Accidentally diffusing mold spores or mycotoxins could cause more problems than you’re solving. Always dilute oils before using topically. I’d also suggest doing a patch test prior to regular use and using a carrier oil that you know your child can tolerate. Children should not take essential oils internally. Choose a clean, high-quality product like Mountain Rose Herbs, which offers 100% organic essential oils and has a tightly controlled production process from growing to shipping. Healing Oils RN makes clean, pediatric-nurse-approved blends that I love for older children.
Do you have any faves? My top 5 essential oils for infants and children are lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, dill, and distilled lemon oils.
• Lavender — Lavender is an awesome first oil to use. It’s calming and helps to promote better sleep when diffused or used topically for a bedtime massage. It’s also soothing to skin irritants like bug bites or sunburn when applied topically.
• Tea Tree — Tea tree oil is a great antimicrobial. It can be diffused to boost the immune system and kill airborne pathogens. It can also be applied topically to minor cuts and scrapes to prevent infections.
• Eucalyptus (only use Eucalyptus radiata) — Eucalyptus is a natural expectorant and can be used for respiratory support and congestion relief. It’s particularly potent, so be conservative when adding to your diffuser and dilute to .25%. You can diffuse, apply topically to the chest, rub 1-2 drops in your hands and have your little breathe in deeply, or put 2-3 drops in a bath.
• Dill — Dill is an antispasmodic oil that can be used to improve digestion and relieve colic. It’s best used topically for abdominal massage. Apply in gentle clockwise circles for about 10 minutes. Rub the oil into your hands first so that it’s warm.
• Distilled Lemon (do not use expressed lemon) — Lemon is energizing, uplifting, and mood boosting. It’s great to diffuse after a nap, on days when a needed nap doesn’t happen, or during/after meltdowns or bad moods.
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The views expressed in this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition and should not be substituted for medical or nutritional advice.