By Dr Tracy King
As a Clinical Psychologist and Yoga Teacher I work holistically with aromatherapy as a key part of my practice to support well-being both mentally and physically. Within my own life and that of my clients, I have seen how the use of essential oils provides a containing backdrop for everyday health.
Establishing healthy behaviours to prevent illness and encourage well-being is more effective during childhood and adolescence than it is to change entrenched patterns in adulthood. Health is the foundation of all growth and development. This is not only physical growth but cognitive (thinking and learning), social and emotional and mental health. Many adults incorporate the use of essential oils into their lifestyle and wonder if these are safe to use with children – They are safe with specific measures in place, as children are naturally smaller and still developing. Allowing children to learn about what nature has to offer us puts more tools in their box for resilience and immunity throughout their lives.
Health is the foundation of all growth and development. This is not only physical growth but cognitive (thinking and learning), social and emotional and mental health.
Essential oils have been used for centuries to promote wellness. Egyptian, Chinese and Roman families are particularly well known for having used them for cooking, beauty, embalming and ceremonial purposes. As they are naturally occurring compounds found in plants, they are used in many products that are probably already around your house. The benefit of using pure essential oils is it allows you to avoid the harmful toxins and chemicals that are added to household products. High quality oils go through rigorous testing to ensure they are safe. You want to be accessing oils that are noted to be of “Therapeutic Grade”. Often cheaper versions are available with additives which are not safe and will not offer the benefit of a pure version of the advertised oil.
For children, smaller amounts are required than for an adult, as oils are very potent. Always start with very small amounts. When topically applied, oils must be accompanied by a carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut (5 drops of carrier oil to 1 drop of essential oil). It is always good to do a sensitivity test on a small area of skin. Dilute the oil that you want to use and apply it to the bottom of the feet (where the thickest skin is), observe for any concerns and stop use if any arise. Avoid placing near sensitive areas such as eyes, inner ears any broken skin. Always supervise children around essential oils.
Here are some essential oil ideas for children and families:
Arbovitae: Use if going outdoors to deter insects naturally. Dilute and apply to wrists and ankles.
Basil: Use if needing to focus and study. Place in a diffuser where your child does their homework.
Cedarwood: Use if your child wakes in the night feeling afraid or with nightmares. Dilute and place on the bottom of the feet.
Clove: Use for oral hygiene. Add a drop to toothpaste for regular use or dilute with fractionated coconut and rub on gums for toothache.
Eucalyptus: Use to promote easy breathing and clear airways. Dilute and apply to the chest.
Lavender: Use to calm and soothe. Add to bath or dilute and massage into the abdomen.
Lemon: Use as flavouring if your child craves sugary drinks, adding this to water provides an alternative. It is vital that you ensure that the brand you use is ingestible and therapeutic. Lime, Grapefruit and Wild Orange are great for this too.
Melaleuca: Use with occasional skin irritations. Dilute and apply to affected area.
Peppermint: Use if child feels overheated. Add to cold water compress or foot bath.
Wintergreen: Use in sports bags to reduce odours. Add a few drops to a cottonwool ball and place in bag.