Parents with autistic children are always looking for ways to help their children – and natural ways that don’t involve synthetics with hormone-disrupting chemicals. More and more parents are turning to the use of aroma therapy, which involves holistic healing with therapeutic essential oils pressed from aromatic plant material. What makes essential oils so amazing for autism is that many parents have had success with it! In this article, let’s explore the best essential oils for autism and a few ways to use them effectively.
What is Autism?
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is associated with behavioral problems including reduced social interactions, impaired verbal or non-verbal communication, repetitive behavior as well as changing emotions and sensory issues. As of 2014, about 1.5% of children in the United States, which is 1 in 68 children, are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
More and more parents are discovering their child has autism, whose symptoms can be detected in early childhood, usually in the first 2 years of age. The exact cause of autism is not clearly known but some of the suspected causes include genetics, metabolic or neurological factors, certain types of infections and problems present at birth.
How Do Essential Oils Help Autism?
Essential oils are concentrated volatile oils that are extracted from aromatic plant material. They contain numerous chemical constituents such as powerful terpenes and alcohols that have been compared to human blood because they both possess similar qualities such as containing nutrients and oxygen, boosting the nervous and immune system, fighting off microbes and bacteria in the body and promoting the regeneration of cells, among others.
Essential oils help autism because of their aroma therapeutic properties. When the essential oil is inhaled, its aroma compounds which carry a myriad of healing properties, enter the lungs and end up in the blood stream. Most essential oils are powerful antioxidants and chemically constitute the compounds sesquirtepenes, that significantly increase oxygen in the brain.
The tiny aroma compounds also travel to the limbic system of the brain, which is the part involved in motivation, emotion, memory and learning. The compounds are also carried to the hypothalamus, which is the part responsible for releasing hormones.
These precious potent plant concentrates have also been shown to help autistic children cope up better with transitional periods like dinner to bed and waking up to go to school.
Research on Essential Oils for Autism
Many parents experience successes using essential oils for autism and recently, research and studies are cropping up to support the anecdotal reports.
One on-going study (1) is being conducted at the OSU Wexner Medical Center’s Nisonger Center, headed by Jill Hollway, PhD. Hollway and her team are testing two separate mixtures comprising 18 different essential oils, which the parents of the autistic children will apply topically and diffuse at night. The children are also given an actigraph, which is a device to track movement and measure their activity level while in bed to see if the oils help them stay asleep.
Top 10 Essential Oils for Autism
Below are ten of the best essential oils for autism and further below, you’ll find some useful remedies that you can start using right away.
1. Vetiver essential oil (where to get it)
Stabilizes emotions, calms the sensory system, balances the nervous system, promotes tranquility, improves sleep pattern
2. Lavender essential oil (where to get it)
Soothes and calms the body and mind, promotes quality sleep, calms an irate child, boosts brain performance, reduces stress
3. Cedarwood essential oil (where to get it)
Good for relaxing the mind, reducing stress and promoting peace, increases oxygenation in the brain which stimulates brain activity and performance
4. Frankincense essential oil (where to get it)
Heightens brain function, has sedative qualities that reduce stress, anxiety & anger, promotes deep breathing and relaxation
5. Ylang ylang essential oil (where to get it)
Known to promote calmness, strengthens the nervous system, relieves stress, anger and anxiety
6. Mandarin orange essential oil (where to get it)
Brightens dull mood, creates happiness, reduces tension, relaxes the nervous system, relieves stress
7. Chamomile essential oil (where to get it)
Soothes an irritated and angry child, promotes a peaceful sleep, balances constantly changing emotions
8. Bergamot essential oil (where to get it)
Relieves tension and stress, promotes positive feelings, relaxes nerves and muscles
9. Patchouli essential oil (where to get it)
Has a pleasant earthy smell that promotes a sense of peace and calm, soothes the nervous system
10. Peppermint essential oil (where to get it)
Invigorating scent that stimulates sensory and brain activity, increase mental performance, increase focus, concentration and alertness
How to Use Essential Oils for Autism
Below are 6 effective ways to use essential oils for autism:
1. ‘Focus’ Roller Bottle Blend
If your child is easily distracted and can’t seem to focus and concentrate, then you can keep this roller bottle blend with you at all times – even in your purse when you’re going out.
What you need
- 15 drops peppermint
- 15 drops mandarin orange
- 8 drops frankincense
- Grapeseed oil (where to get it)
- 10 ml roll on bottle (where to get it)
- Fill a roll – on bottle with the above oils and shake well to combine.
- Roll onto the back of neck, shoulders and behind ears.
2. Diffuser Recipe
You can diffuse any of the above essential oils (about 4 – 6 drops) individually for a specific purpose, like lavender or cedarwood for sleep, peppermint for focus, etc but making a blend can combine the many properties of each oil and smell fantastic too!
What you need
- 2 drops of lavender
- 2 drops of mandarin orange
- 2 drops of cedarwood
- 1 drop of vetiver
- 1 drop frankincense
- Non – plastic cold air diffuser (where to get it)
Add these oils to your diffuser. Remember, cold – air diffusers use water along with the oils so follow the manufacturer’s instructions to see how much water you will need to add. You can go with 70 – 90 ml of water for the above blend.
3. Foot Blend
Foot reflexology is a powerful tool for healing the internal system of the body and when combined with essential oils, a significant improvement can be seen in autistic children who have sensory issues and unstable emotions.
What you need
- 10 drops vetiver oil
- 10 drops cedarwood oil
- Fractionated coconut oil (where to get it)
- 10 ml roll – on bottle (where to get it)
- Remove the roller ball from the roll – on bottle then add the essential oils.
- Top with fractionated coconut oil.
- Put back the roller ball, close the cap and shake the bottle to combine the oils.
- Roll onto the feet during nap time and bed time. You may cover the feet with comfortable socks.
4. Mood Boosting Spray
Make this mood boosting spray and spritz it around the room or on the kid’s clothes to promote good feeling and brighten his/her mood!
What you need
- 4 drops mandarin orange
- 4 drops ylang ylang
- ½ cup distilled water (where to get it)
- 4 oz amber spray bottle (where to get it)
- Shake up the above ingredients in a 4 oz amber spray bottle with a fine mist nozzle.
- Spritz athe spray round the room or on your child’s clothes and bed area.
5. Soothing Bath Recipe
A bath can be just the thing to clear the mind, relax muscles and promote deep sleep for all children. It also helps release tension and wind up for the day.
What you need
- 10 drops lavender
- 10 drops cedarwood
- 5 drops patchouli
- 5 drops vetiver
- 1 cup whole milk
- After drawing a warm bath, mix the above ingredients together and pour it into the bath.
- Stir well and allow the child to soak in for 15 minutes.
6. Lavender Laundry Scent Booster
If you’re kids are refusing you to apply oils on them, let alone touch them, then you can make your own laundry booster for their clothes with lavender whose scent promotes peace and calm. The full article talking about this lavender laundry scent booster can be found here on the blog. I’ve just extracted the recipe down below:
What you need
- 2 cups sea salt (where to get it)
- 40 drops of lavender oil or other essential oil for autism
- In a large mason jar, shake up the above ingredients.
- Add about 2 tsp of this laundry scent booster to your washing machine.
Have you tried essential oils for autism? What is your favorite oil or oil blend that worked best? Please share your experience in the comments below!