I recently started to get into the whole “essential oil” thing. As a yoga lover, I have a tiny bit of holistic hippie in me, but as an OT, I’m more interested in using aromatherapy to help children learn, focus, and calm. The thought of finding a safe alternative to medication that really works is pretty cool. I decided I need to learn more about Aromatherapy and essential oils. I found the perfect person to teach me (and you) in Amanda Oppenheim. Amanda is an OT student who has a lot of experience with Aromatherapy. She’s been shadowing me at work (school) a bit, and I’m learning from her as she learns from me! I asked Amanda to write up an “Intro to Aromatherapy” for those of you who want to learn the basics. I specifically asked her to start from “square one”, as though I knew nothing. She will go more into depth in future posts to expand my (our) knowledge and to give us some great tips and tricks for helping our children calm or alert in an all-natural way. So, here is a wonderful guest post from an experienced Aromatherapy lover and a soon-to-be OT!
Hello everyone! My name is Amanda Oppenheim and I am an Occupational Therapy student. I am here to share my passion for essential oils and Aromatherapy. First off, let me explain what aromatherapy is. It is the use of essential oils from plants to heal through inhalation and massage. Aromatherapy helps to balance, harmonize, and promote the health of the body, mind, and spirit.
What are Essential Oils?
They are concentrated extracts taken from the roots, leaves, seeds, or blossoms of plants. Each contains its own active ingredient. In other words, it is the plant’s immune system, which helps defend it from insects, environmental conditions, and disease. You rarely see your plants getting sick, right?
Essential oils are not new! They have been dated back to 4500 BC!
There are many different ways to use essential oils, but for this blog, I am going to focus on Aromatherapy (inhalation). If you are interested in learning more about essential oils, my contact info will be at the end.
Benefits of Aromatherapy
- Enhances mood and a general feeling of well-being
- Increases attention and alertness
- Decreases the fight or flight (stress) response
- Strengthens the immune system
- Relieves stress and anxiety
- Supports healthy breathing
- Purifies the air
- Familiar smells elicit pleasant memories
Our sense of smell is more important than you may think!
Our sense of smell is so unique because it is closely linked with memory as well as our emotional center in our brain. Our sense of smell (the olfactory bulb) sends signals to all areas of the brain, including the areas of the brain that control behavior and mood, motivation, emotions, and memory. For your children, this is important, because they can try to connect a certain smell to something they learn. Also, it can relax their body in order to allow them to retain information in school.
How difficult can it be for your child to learn if they are distracted, stressed, or upset? I know I can’t focus or retain information under those circumstances.
How to Use Aromatherapy for Inhalation
It’s so simple! Use either a diffuser or a cotton ball in a glass jar!
Also, you can place a drop in your palm, rub your hands together, and inhale.
Choosing the Right Oils
Calming (for the overactive child): Lavender, Vetiver, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Peace & Calming, Patchouli, Geranium, Clary Sage, Chamomile, Valor, Stress Relief, and many more.
Energizing: Peppermint, Basil, Bergamot, Citrus oils (lemon, lime, orange), Rosemary, Eucalyptus, etc.
Precautions with Essential Oils
- Every person is different, and everyone will react differently to essential oils. One oil may work for you but may not work for someone else. Good thing there are hundreds of different types of essential oils!
- Pregnant women and people with severe asthma should only use essential oils under the guidance of a trained professional and with full disclosure to your physician. (Rarely, aromatherapy can induce side effects)
- Keep essential oils away from the eyes and ears. In the event of eye or ear exposure, soothe with a drop of vegetable oil – never water.
- Epileptics and those with high blood pressure should consult their health care professionals before using some essential oils. Avoid Hyssop, Fennel, and Idaho Tansy oils.
- Read the label before using the essential oil.
Remember, not all oils are made equally! In order to see the therapeutic benefits, the oil has to be 100% pure. The FDA does not regulate essential oils, so sometimes it may be hard to differentiate between 100% pure essential oils or essential oils with added chemicals and synthetics.
For me, I only use Young Living Essential Oils. This company is amazing in the way that they are an open book company. They own their own farms and distilleries, and they’ve made it their mission to produce products that are 100% pure.
Proceed with caution if you plan on using other essential oil brands. A key thing to look out for, that hints that the oil has been combined with chemicals, is if the bottle says for external use only! It makes you think…what did they add to that bottle that makes the oil unsafe? Also, check to see if there’s an expiration date! Pure essential oils do not expire for a very, very long time.
*I would like to thank and credit Heidi MacAlpine for teaching me to use essential oils with children.
Young Living Member # 1864788
If you are interested in buying essential oils, click here!
For more information go to www.youngliving.com
Upcoming: my experience with essential oils and what oils may work best for your children! Also, how essential oils can be used other than inhalation.
What a great article! I’ve used essential oils many years ago. Would like more info to begin again. Looking forward to learning more in future posts.