Autism, ADHD and Essential Oils
This is a subject matter really close to my heart. And while there is no ‘cure’ for autism or ADHD, there are natural ways we can support some of the daily challenges faced for people on the spectrum.
For the purpose’s of this post, I will be referring to support for children. This is the area that I have personal experience and where the research cited today is focused. However, I see no reason why adults (both on and off the spectrum) wouldn’t also benefit from and enjoy aromatherapy.
Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Study
Over a 7 month time frame, a study was done by ‘Autismag’ – exploring the efficacy of essential oils for children with Autism and ADHD (Click here to read the full report). Over 200 parents (and their children) took part, and the data collected showed the following conclusions:
- 84% of parents of children with autism reported medium to significant overall benefits.
- 81% reported that the oils helped to pacify and calm their child during meltdowns or sensory overloads.
- 77% of parents reported reduced hyperactivity levels in their children upon usage.
- 56% of parents felt that their child was more relived from anxiety, stress, anger and attention deficit.
- 79% of parents reported reduced discomfort due to sensory sensitivity.
- 88% were happy with the overall effects and said that they would recommend that other parents try aromatherapy with their children.
So…what were the top essential oils in this study, found to be most supportive and effective for children with autism and ADHD??
- Tea tree – which helps to soothe skin sensitivity issues.
- Vetiver – which can soothe an overactive mind, reduce anger, irritations and improves concentration.
- cedarwood – improved focus and sleep.
- sandalwood – relaxing and calming while promoting mental clarity.
- frankincense – can minimise sensory overload, keep emotions calm, and help to maintain focus.
- lavender – reduce anxiety and improves sleep.
- peppermint – increases mental focus/concentration and aids cooling for the body (great during melt downs).
- bergamot – provides sensory relief.
- Ylang Ylang – was found to be effective for many of the common comorbid conditions associated with autism.
- Roman Chamomile – was found to reduce meltdowns.
Of course, each individual is different. And what works for one may not work for another. Personal preferences for aromas must be taken into consideration too.
My personal experiences with Autism and Aromatherapy
My one son is very sensory sensitive and this includes smells! So, there are some oils that he just doesn’t like (understandable, as there are certainly some acquired aromas out there). I allow his preferences to determine what oils we use to support him.
My son really suffers with extreme anxiety too, often leading to very debilitating panic attacks. I have found that with early intervention (i.e. spotting the signs and responding quickly) the use of wild orange essential oil is often effective in calming him down from these anxious states and usually prevents a full blown panic attack.
It also helps him regain control in a moment where he often feels it slipping away. He can use the oil while focusing on his breathing and the combination of the breathing exercises and the orange oil work wonders for him.
Orange oil may not work as well for someone else. If you don’t have the desired results with one oil, try another! In the same way, that when you visit a doctor, if one medication doesn’t work well for you, you try another. This approach is sometimes required with natural medicine too. We all have different chemistry and will therefore respond differently to specific oils.
I do hope this information has been a useful insight and guide for you. I would love to hear your feedback, or any experiences you have on this topic.