19 Oct Using Essential Oils: How They May Help Bring Positivity Into Your Home
Essential oils have been popular with proponents of natural and organic medicines for decades. Their benefits have been lauded by naturopaths and parents alike, and they can play a role in enhancing your child’s overall health. In fact, Indigenous communities have used plants and flowers to promote good health for countless centuries.
However, there are a few caveats to keep in mind when choosing which essential oils to buy. In this post, we talk about their potential benefits, but also offer a few words of caution before using them to treat your child. We also suggest ways in which you can unleash the benefits of essential oils to help with certain minor ailments.
Essential oils come from the bark, root, flowers or leaves of certain plants, like lavender and basil. They are highly concentrated, and should always be diluted before use, through carriers like plain oil, distilled water or lotion. Never use undiluted essential oil on your child’s skin, and they should never be ingested by anyone, young and old alike. And don’t “double dose,” which means don’t put lavender essential oil into a carrier oil that is already scented with lavender.
1. Read the labels before purchase.
Find out what part of the plant is used in the oil you are considering purchasing, along with recommended options for use, and where the oil was made. Different countries have different regulations about strength and manufacture, so be sure you’re well informed before buying any oil. And remember: essential oils are not controlled or monitored by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) so it’s your job to be well educated before using them.
2. Don’t pour oil directly into bath water.
Because water and oil don’t mix, any oil might harm sensitive skin. Make sure it’s well diluted first, in distilled water, before adding it to bathwater.
3. If your baby is under 30 months, avoid essential oils.
Did you know that pure peppermint essential oil can cause seizures in babies younger than 30 months? That warning comes straight from pediatricians at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. This and other risks are why it’s so vital that you do your research before buying and using any essential oil. Some physicians recommend staying away from oils until your child is over six years old, but opinions on that age limit vary. Again – do lots of reading and research to determine what is best for your family. (For more information from Johns Hopkins on the use of essential oils with children, visit: https://www.hopkinsallchildrens.org/ACH-News/General-News/Are-Essential-Oils-Safe-for-Children)
4. Avoid delicate areas.
Even once the oil’s strength is reduced via the carrier, you should not put it near your child’s mouth, ears, nose and eyes. Even scrupulously avoiding those areas doesn’t mean your child won’t ingest it; we all know that children put their fingers in their mouths frequently, which is another reason the essential oil should be well diluted – you want to avoid upset tummies or worse, a serious reaction to oil that has been accidentally taken internally.
5. Can you use essential oils safely?
Absolutely! Although use of essential oils should be done sparingly and with an abundance of caution, they have plenty of benefits for children. For example: a little ginger goes a long way toward easing an upset stomach. Lavender can calm children who are anxious or upset. But no one, including adults, should ever ingest essential oils, as it’s impossible to know how toxic these products are even when they’re diluted.
6. Use a diffuser in some circumstances.
A diffuser allows the scent of the oil to waft through the air, rather than using it directly on a child’s skin. This is safe, although it’s important to consider other people who may share the space, and may not like or need the aroma of the essential oil. Always err on the side of caution, as children react much more strongly, and perhaps even allergically, to all kinds of substances. Essential oils are natural, which is why they are so popular and widely used. But they aren’t always appropriate for children, in spite of their natural origins.
7. Talk to your child’s health care provider first.
A conversation with their pediatrician will reveal potential issues you may not have thought of. For example, might an essential oil interact negatively with your child’s asthma medication? A quick chat with your child’s physician will offer a broader, more comprehensive guide to when, where and how to use essential oils with your child. There may even be some benefits you hadn’t considered.
8. Buy your oils from a knowledgeable specialist.
Many health food stores and even some grocery stores sell essential oils, or at least products labelled as such. Because you need to learn what oil to use for what condition and under what circumstances, it’s vital that you seek out a certified essential oils specialist. Do some online research and find someone in your area, rather than simply purchasing oils on your own.
Essential oils can be part of a holistic lifestyle, and that can include your children. But they are not to be used without plenty of foreknowledge of the effects of each one. Taking an all natural approach to some of childhood’s most common complaints, like upset stomachs and anxiety about an upcoming school term, is a valid and laudatory way of avoiding introducing medications into your child’s system.
But it is important to remember that essential oils are not regulated by a governing body. Their use is solely guided by the warning, “caveat emptor” or “let the buyer beware.” That means it’s up to parents to know all they can about the products they’re purchasing for their family, even when those products are marketed as safe and organic.
If you’re equipped with all the knowledge available to you about essential oils, you’ll make the right choice when it comes to helping your child enjoy their many benefits.