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How Essential Oils can Help Reduce Anxiety in Children (and Adults)

Updated: Dec 30, 2019

Do essential oils calm anxious children? Could the scent of an essential oil stop your child’s panic attack or help them relax at bedtime?

Essential oils are trendy and you’re probably hearing a lot about them. Parents and professionals who work with children who struggle with anxiety and mental health challenges need practices that work. For those of that struggle with anxiety or know/care for someone who does, using essential oils is not about being part of the latest fad; You need real solutions for real problems.

So, could they be a way to calm a child’s anxiety at tuck-in time, or stop an after-school transition tantrum?

Thankfully, the answer is yes. Research and evidence points to the efficacy of essential oils.

“Essential oils have a deeply balancing effect on our mind, body and spirit,” says Jeanine Nielsen, RA®EOT® at True Aromatherapy Products and Spa in Fort Langley, British Columbia. “Aromatherapy involves the use of smell to impact emotional changes within us.”

“The oils can enter the body by absorption through the skin or through inhalation; when inhaled the oils are absorbed through the olfactory system, and messages are sent to the limbic system of the brain, a part of the brain which is connected to our emotional response,”

Jeanine explains. “The olfactory system is also connected to the hypothalamus, pituitary, nervous and endocrine systems, thus playing a larger role in hormonal health and impacting our emotional state producing a sense of well-being.”

Jeanine explains, “While we breathe in the essential oils, the various molecules penetrate the limbic system in the brain which responds by releasing neurochemicals, which trigger the area of the brain called the olfactory, known as our sense of smell, causing physical and psychological changes throughout the body, working towards promotion balance.”

“These,” says Jeanine, “are the basic principles supporting how aromatherapy works.  Research suggests that odours may influence thought and behavioural patterns.  Research of the limbic system reveals that certain essential oils can stimulate or sedate the nervous system through their effects on brain waves.”

What are the benefits to using aromatherapy with children?

There are many benefits to using aromatherapy with children.The first being, essential oils are natural.  Many parents would rather try a plant-based method to reduce anxiety before considering a traditional medicine approach. There are so many essential oils to use, and each scent or scent combination can have a positive effect on numerous physical and mental conditions.

Many parents and professionals have found that essential oils can:

  • reduce anxiety

  • ease depression or feelings of grief

  • help children focus and alleviate symptoms of ADD

  • calm children at bedtime and given them more restful sleep 

  • ease transition troubles

  • reduce tantrums

  • calm aggressive behaviours

Scent “heals” by triggering “feel-good” chemicals in the brain, which cause physical and psychological changes in the body.

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