As an essential oil “expert”, I get asked a lot of questions on this site. Some of the most common questions I get are about the best essential oils for add or adhd. Since it is obviously a topic that people are interested in, I decided that I would write a post focused entirely on this condition and how essential oils can help!
ADD is the short form for Attention Deficit Disorder. Recently scholars also started to refer to the condition as ADHD, which means Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Essentially, people with the disorder are easily distracted and have trouble concentrating in activities around them.
The primary indicators of ADD are not paying attention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. People with ADD are not entirely distracted but have trouble focusing on things that they are not interested in. They can focus when doing things that interest them like sports and hobbies, but trouble sets in when the task becomes boring and repetitive. It becomes hard for them to focus on finish “boring assignments”. This is where essential oils for ADD can help, by increasing focus and decreasing how much energy you have.
In most cases, doctors give an ADD diagnosis in the first five to six years of a child’s life. Research shows that one-third of the children diagnosed with ADD outgrow some of the symptoms as the remaining two-thirds continue with all the symptoms into adulthood. There are cases of people diagnosed with ADD in adulthood, but most of them started when they were young.
What causes ADD / ADHD?
Scientists are still researching on the causes of ADD and ADHD. Studies indicate that the neurotransmitters in the brains of persons with ADD do not function the same as in persons without the condition. Some pathways also appear smaller or seem to function abnormally. They look as if they are less active or less responsive.
The neurotransmitters are responsible for the control of movement, mood, sleep, learning, and attention. That is why symptoms of the disorder revolve around these functions. Again, essential oils can help with just about all of these if you know how to use them
The reasons that are established and backed by research so far include:
Research has shown that heredity is a major contributing factor of ADD. If a child has ADD, there is a 25% chance that one of the parents had the disorder. It also applies in multiple births (twins), if one of the children in multiple births has ADD; there is an 90% chance that the rest have it as well.
Exposure to alcohol in the womb
Consumption of alcohol while pregnant is discouraged because alcohol gets absorbed into the fetal blood stream. The alcohol then circulates through the fetus’ body and inhibits the growth of the fetus’ cells. The most affected cells are the spinal cord and brain cells, because they are the most sensitive, and alcohol is likely to damage them.
Exposure to cigarette smoke in the womb
Cigarette smoke contains dangerous chemicals that emit carbon monoxide. When a pregnant mother smokes, the smoke finds its way into the baby’s blood stream and the brain. The carbon monoxide causes a shortage of oxygen, which increases the chances of the baby being brain damaged. Damage to the brain increases the chances of ADHD.
Excessive exposure to lead
Lead poisoning can also cause brain damage, leading to ADD. Lead exposure is a risk for the unborn, young children, and adults. Children under six years old are especially unacceptable to lead, due to the tendency to put things, that could be coated with lead paint, in their mouths.
A head injury
A head injury to babies during birth or through an accident later in life could lead to ADD. That is if the damage affects the frontal lobe of the brain, which is the part that controls instincts and emotions.
Symptoms of ADD or ADHD
There are three types of ADD. Each has its symptoms. They are;
- Hyperactive/Impulsive ADD
- Inattentive ADD
- Combined ADD
A child with hyperactive ADD will exhibit at least six of the following symptoms:
- The child is fidgety.
- He or she cannot play quietly.
- He or she is always active. They always find something to do.
- Interrupts people when they are talking and in most cases, the interruption is not related to the conversation.
- Cannot remain seated even when their peers are seated.
- Running around or and climbing at the wrong time or place.
- Cannot remain silent even when instructed to do so. Children with ADD will talk even when no one else is talking.
- Gives answers to all questions very quickly even if it means giving wrong answers.
- Can’t be patient for his/her turn even when circumstances demand so.
Children with inattentive ADD exhibit at least six of the following symptoms:
- Easily misplace things meant for learning or play.
- They find it difficult to follow instructions even when they understand them.
- The children don’t pay attention to work or play.
- They don’t pay close attention to details.
- These children have difficulties prioritizing.
- Seem disorganized.
- They have trouble planning for tasks that need planning.
- These kids easily get distracted.
- They appear not to listen.
- They forget things quickly.
Combined ADD is the most common type of ADD. Children who have combined ADD exhibit at least six symptoms of hyper active ADD and inattentive ADD. For example, they may be disorganized, extremely talkative, fidgety, fail to pay attention, be hyperactive, and forget quickly.
Fortunately, you can manage the all three types of at home using essential oils for ADD.
Do essential oils for ADD really work ?
Essential oils do not cure ADD, but they can help with the effects when properly used. Aromatherapy has been proven to enhance concentration, for example, which is very important for people with ADD. The following essential oils recognized as useful for ADD:
Vetiver essential oil
The oil is an extract of the vetiver herb and is one of the most effective essential oils for ADD. The herb is native to India and has been used in ancient medicine in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and West Africa for many years. Indians recognize the vetiver herb as a sacred herb and refer to the oil as ‘the oil of tranquility’ due to its uplifting and soothing properties.
Vetiver essential oil has been clinically proven to adjust the ratio of theta to beta waves in the brain, changing the pre-disposition of users from mental disorientation to calmness and alertness.
A case study on the effects of vetiver oil for children with ADD was carried out by Dr. Terry Friedman in 2001. It involved 40 children whereby 20 had been diagnosed with ADD. The kids inhaled the oil three times a day for 30 days, and the results were amazing.
Vetiver essential oil seemed to improve brain performance by 100%. The children were able to overcome the ADD symptoms within just 30 days.
For best results, vetiver essential oil can be used for direct inhalation or by using a diffuser. If you are serious about using essential oils for ADHD, vetiver is a great place to start!
Cedar wood essential oil
Cedar wood essential oil is an extract from the cedar tree that grows all over the world. The oil is widely used to enhance attentiveness and mental stability and therefore helps calm down people with ADD.
Cedar wood essential oil contains sesquiterpenes. They are believed to increase oxygenation of the blood hence leading to adequate blood flow to the brain, which enhances brain functionality. Cedar wood is a natural sedative that helps ease tension, another reason why it is a great essential oil for ADHD.
Using cedar wood essential oil will help people with ADD sleep better. The aroma produced by the oil promotes the release of a chemical known as serotonin in the brain. The body converts serotonin to melatonin in the dark. Melatonin enhances a restful sleep keeping irritability as a result of overstimulation at bay.
For outdoor use, put a few drops of cedar wood essential oil in in your handkerchief. While in the house you can distribute it as room diffuser.
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
The oil extracted from flowers of the ylang ylang tree using steam distillation method. Ylang ylang essential oil is excellent for reducing strong emotions and unnecessarily heightened energy levels due to its sedative properties. It is an antidepressant and calms anxiety.
Inhaling the scent of ylang ylang essential oil can benefit people with ADD due to the calming effects it elicits.
To take advantage of the therapeutic benefits of ylang ylang essential oil, you can apply a few drops on your skin. The aroma will last throughout the day. Using it in a steam bath will also calm your nerves and help you sleep better.
Myrrh Essential Oil
The myrrh essential oil is an extract from the Commiphora myrrha tree, which is common in the Middle East and Africa. It has been used for years due to its high potency. Myrrh essential oil is the most widely used essential oil in the world. Christians hold the oil in high regard as it was among the gifts that the three wise men took to Jesus when he was born.
Science confirms that Myrrh essential oil induces the release of serotonin and dopamine. These two neurotransmitters help people de-stress and relax. People with ADD will benefit from the calming effects of myrrh oil. Thus the oil will contribute to curbing their hyperactivity.
You can use myrrh oil as a room diffuser or directly inhale it.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil is an extract from the lavender plant that belongs to the mint family. It is native to the old world (Africa, Asia, and Europe). It is currently abundant in Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Europe, Northern Africa, Eastern Africa, Asia, and India.
Lavender is one of the most intensively researched essential oils for ADHD. Some active components of lavender boost the production and absorption of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. The positive neurotransmitters help the body relax and they are beneficial for people with ADD.
Lavender essential oil is also popular for its sedative properties. Some individuals with ADD suffer from insomnia. Studies have proven that lavender essential oil improves sleep. It is therefore efficient for people with ADD and anxiety disorders.
Lavender oil is direct inhaled, as a massage oil, as a room diffuser, and in bath water.
Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary essential oil is an extract from the rosemary plant commonly used in many parts of the world as an herbal remedy for various ailments, and as a spice as well. Many people also use it as a decorative home plant.
There are no studies to show that rosemary essential oil works by soothing the mind, but research indicates that it helps boost cognitive ability and focus. The oil would, therefore, be beneficial for people with ADD as they have a significant challenge with concentration.
How to use: To reap the benefits of rosemary essential oil, you could mix it with few drops of vetiver or lavender essential oil. Topical use on the chest, wrists or neck rapidly increases mental clarity and concentration.
Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense essential oil is an extract from the resin of the Boswellia Sacra. The tree commonly grows in Somalia, in a seemingly barren land. The word frankincense originates from the French term “franc encens,” which means quality incense in ancient French.
Frankincense is closely related to Christianity as Christians believe that it was among the first gifts to be given to Jesus Christ when the three wise men went to see him when he was born.
This popular essential oil for ADD emits a relaxing fragrance that could be helpful for people with ADD. The oil is popular because its fragrance helps maintain focus and mental clarity. It is a natural choice for people with ADD.
Frankincense essential oil has been used for thousands of years for its positive effects, on the brain. Recently, it is famed for nervous system support and hormonal levels balancing.
How to use: The oil is great as a room diffuser and direct inhalation. Topical application also helps maintain positivity and mental focus the whole day.
Bergamot Essential Oil
Bergamot essential oil is an extract from the rind of the bergamot citrus fruit.
The fragrance of bergamot essential oil helps people with ADD by inhibiting the neurotransmitters that induce stress and anxiety. It boosts brain power, calms the mind, keeps distractions at bay and helps focus in the current conversations and tasks.
The bergamot essential oil contains flavonoids which are natural relaxants. They reduce nervous tension, stress, and anxiety. They also cure insomnia and depression and stimulate the production of serotonin and dopamine ‘feel good’ hormones as well.
How to Use – Apply the oil topically at the base of the neck and the wrists. The aroma will help you keep calm all day long.
Roman chamomile essential oil
The Roman chamomile essential oil is an extract from the Roman chamomile, which is a small herb with white flowers. It is cultivated in Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and Morocco. The users of oil recognize it as a calming essential oil.
Roman chamomile essential oil is beneficial to people with ADD because it inhibits the overstimulation that goes with the condition. Direct inhalation of the oil helps reduce hyperactivity and ease anxiety.
Recipes Containing Essential Oils For ADD
Rollerball to Calm Down
This recipes can be applies to someone wrist, neck, or anywhere else that will allow be smelt regularly. Many people have suggested that this combination works well if applied to the bottoms of your feet, especially around your big toe. Simply mix the ingredients below in a rollerball container and apply as needed.
The combination does a great job of calming you down and relieving anxiety. Here are the ingredients I use, but feel free to adjust them as you see fit:
- 35 drops if your favorite carrier oil
- 25 drops of lavender
- 15 drops of patchouli
- 15 drop of frankincense
- 10 drops of cedarwood
- 10 drops of spruce
- 8 drops of vetiver
Anxiety Rollerball Blend
This recipe is designed for a 10 ml rollerball bottle. Just like the rollerball recipe above, it is best applied to somewhere where you are going to smell it throughout the day. You can also apply the recipe to the bottom of your feet so that you obsorb the benefits directly.
This combination relieves stress and anxiety from your day. It should instantly relax your body and soul because of the high concentration of lavender. Here is what it contains:
- 10 drops of lavender
- 7 drops of ylang-ylang
- 5 drops of chamomile
- 3 drops of frankincense
- 3 drops of bergamot
- 2 drops of cedarwood
- Top off the bottle with your favorite carrier oil.
This is my favorite combination of essential oils for ADD if you own a diffuser. Get this recipe flowing in your house or classroom and you will have a noticeably smaller amount of tantrums. This is one of my all time favorites if one of my children are just having a bad day.
- 4 drops of lavender
- 3 drops of vetiver
- 2 drops of cedarwood
- 2 drops of orange
- 1 drop of ylang-ylang
ADD, or ADHD has no cure, but administering aromatherapy in the management of the condition can help you or your loved one curb the problems it causes in the day to day life.
There are numerous essential oils for ADD than can help your children cope better with the condition. Among them are; Vetiver, Cedarwood, Ylang ylang, Rosemary, Myrrh, Lavender, Frankincense, and Bergamot. The oils’ fragrances help the user relax, sleep better, focus on tasks, and maintain a positive attitude.