Aromatherapy is known to induce peace and relaxation. Aromatic essences can help with many ADD and ADHD symptoms, some of them proven by science. If you’re looking for a physical and emotional balance, there are some great essential oils for ADD & ADHD available.
In this article, you’ll be reading about:
- The way essential oils work and help the body and mind of someone with ADD/ADHD.
- Reviews of some of the best Aromatherapy oils to use in ADHD management.
- How to use these aromatic substances for the best results they can provide.
- Aroma oil recipes to soothe a restless mind, deal with insomnia and help you focus.
- Useful facts to know about ADHD that can help you understand it and the treatment better.
- Some helpful tips for both children and adults with ADHD/ADD. They are lifestyle tips and good practices that can improve life quality.
Best Essential Oils for ADD & ADHD (Reviews, How to Use & Recipes)
ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
ADD is Attention Deficit Disorder.
Basically, the medical term of the disorder explains what it is. It’s a mental and behavioral disorder characterized by:
- The inability to stay focused on even the most trivial things.
Everybody has trouble focusing on tasks they don’t like. Everybody has problems staying patient while they want to be somewhere else.
ADHD however, is not just from time to time. It usually gets diagnosed after a careful investigation.
This investigation is based on the patient’s last 6 months of activity. ADHD starts in early childhood and it usually continues in adulthood too.
Recently, it has been observed that boys are up to 3 times more affected by ADHD than girls. There are lots of other facts you’ll probably want to know about this attention disorder. Check out the last part of the article for complete details.
Though, its origin and exact causes are not yet known, ADHD is characterized by 3 types:
- ADD – Attention problems without being hyperactive or impulsive. (mildest form)
- Hyperactive – Serious hyperactivity or impulsiveness, but able to pay attention.
- Combined – Serious/chronic problems of paying attention and staying put. (chronic form)
This short intro brings us to our current topic: Essential oils for ADD /ADHD.
Do Essential Oils Really Work for ADHD/ADD?
You’re here because you want to know what essential oil helps with ADD and ADHD. But before that, it’s important to first know about Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is considered a CAM: Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Aromatherapy uses essential oils as part of natural remedies. They help the body maintain healthy and the mind relaxed.
Since ancient times, their most basic forms have been used to treat diseases and affections of all sorts. They were also used in beauty and skin care. There’s no wonder that today they make good material for research.
Essential oils can really work for ADHD and ADD. That happens mainly because they’re highly active substances. Aroma oils are made of hundreds of microscopic molecules. These tiny molecules can pass the blood-brain barrier.
This means they have a direct action on the brain. This ability of theirs can help improve ADHD symptoms, and other mental or emotional problems. These problems can be anything from anxiety and depression to stress and low libido.
Aromatic essences can do that after they’re inhaled or applied topically. They absorb really well into the skin and bloodstream, after which they reach the liver and the brain.
Once inhaled, the receptors found inside the nose treat them as hormones. They will then send signals to the brain to release certain neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters can help with ADD.
Their release and the brain reaction are triggered by the active oil molecules. Essential oil molecules can also affect the limbic system. The limbic system is the center of emotions and memories.
Medical treatment of ADHD relies on medication that stimulates the nervous system. Luckily, almost all essential oils can stimulate the nervous system, one way or another.
Depending on where the plant grows, how it’s harvested and processed, and then stored, an aromatic oil can be:
- Hypertensive and hypotensive.
Thus, you can use essential oils for ADD/ADHD to:
- Increase focus and concentration.
- Decrease stress levels.
- Regulate breathing, slowing it down in preparation for sleep.
- Relieve and soothe anxiety and depression.
- Induce peace and calm while nervous and anxious.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Raise blood pressure.
- Eliminate excess water (edema) and sodium.
- Kill bacteria and viruses, purifying the air.
- Strengthen the immune system.
- Improve digestion.
- Promote healthy, glowing skin.
Recent studies reveal that gastrointestinal problems can cause cognitive and behavioral problems. They can be bacterial infections in the intestinal tract and/or an imbalanced gut flora. The latter is easily disrupted by antibiotics intake.
Antibiotics are frequently prescribed for viral infections and otitis media. Frequent episodes of otitis media infections in early childhood are associated with hyperactivity. Sleep problems can also aggravate ADHD and ADD.
Essential Oils and ADD/ADHD: General Pros and Safety Tips
- Aromatherapy is a natural way of managing ADHD symptoms. One can complete his or her treatment this way or replace prescriptions entirely. The latter however, should never be done before talking to a doctor first.
- Essential oils can help you focus better on tasks and be more calm, on a daily basis.
- Plus all the above mentioned health and mood benefits.
- Regardless of age, you must always consult with your doctor first. Some aromatic oils can interact with medications and cause significant harm.
- Children under 6 years of age should not use them without a doctor’s approval.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women must also talk to their doctors first. Some specialists say the oil molecules can enter the placenta or be expelled through milk.
- You should never use any essential oil on babies under 3 months.
- People with asthma, diabetes, heart problems and other disorders should also talk to their doctors first.
- Test the oils you’re about to use for allergic reactions. Apply 1 – 2 drops on the inside of your forearm. If nothing happens within 2 – 3 hours, you’re safe to use the oil.
As you can see, aroma oils have quite the effect on our health. It would be a shame not to give them a chance. Especially since ADHD medications can cause such serious side effects.
Essential Oils for ADHD/ADD Reviews (Pros & Cons)
I know you want to know what essential oils are good for ADD and ADHD. That’s why, this next chapter is dedicated to some of the best essential oils for ADHD and all its forms.
They are Green Mandarin and Roman Chamomile, Cedarwood and Vetiver. I’ll take you through their pros and cons, so you can choose wisely and use them safely.
Let’s see which oils are the best for ADD/ADHD and why.
1) Green Mandarin Essential Oil
Botanical name: Citrus reticulata.
- Green Mandarin is one of the best relaxing and calming essential oils. It affects the sympathetic nervous system, which keeps the body alert. This aromatic essence prepares the body for physical and intellectual activity.
- The oil of Mandarin can also moderate the body’s answer to sympathetic stimulation. This means that if necessary, Mandarin oil can limit physical and mental activity. Thus, it is a great oil for hyperactivity symptoms.
- Green Mandarin oil for ADD and ADHD is mildly hypnotic. This means the oil can induce deep sleep. This calming action is very moderate though, which makes the oil suited for child use.
- The oil can also promote digestion. It can stimulate the production of bile, which also helps neutralizing some toxins in the liver.
- Green Mandarin can purify the air and prevent viral infections. It can do so because of its high content of limonene.
- In diffusion, Green Mandarin is safe for almost everyone.
- The oil of Mandarin should not be used on children younger than 3 years old. The same goes for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Always seek the counsel of a doctor first!
- Large amounts used on long periods of time (especially if ingested) can be toxic to the kidneys.
- Avoid the use of Mandarin if you have kidney stones or asthma.
- Cold pressed Green Mandarin is phototoxic. This means you should avoid sun exposure for 24 – 48 hours after using it.
Why I like it:
Fruity, sweet and tart, Green Mandarin can uplift your mood and help you focus on your activities. If you’re too agitated, this oil can temper down your behavior and help you sleep soundly.
2) Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
Botanical name: Chamaemelum nobile/ Anthemis nobilis.
- Roman Chamomile is one of the best calming and antispasmodic aromatic oils.
- The oil can help with stress and anxiety symptoms and promote sleep. A good night’s rest increases your focus and work capacity.
- Roman Chamomile is a strong antispasmodic. Because of it, this oil can calm hyperactivity by diminishing spasms and involuntary reflexes. It will basically help you stay put for a while longer.
- It is also good against local inflammation (by improving blood circulation).
- You can use this Chamomile oil variety to soothe pain and neuralgia.
- Depression is another thing that Chamomile can help with. It was proven so in a lab test on mice.
- Roman Chamomile is indeed one of the best oils for ADD/ADHD, but some people must use it carefully. Those with epilepsy and/or seizures, for example. Pregnant women in the first trimester should ask their doctor before using it.
- Too much of this oil can cause drowsiness and vertigo.
Why I like it:
Roman Chamomile is one of the safest essential oils for ADHD in children and adults alike. There aren’t many safety precautions to consider, and it can be used on babies older than 3 months too. I would still recommend talking to a doctor before trying any natural remedies though.
3) Atlas Cedarwood Essential Oil
Botanical name: Cedrus atlantica.
- The major constituent(s) found in Cedarwood (ex.: cedrol) can improve brain oxygenation. What do you use Cedarwood oil for? You can use it to promote sleep, quiet the mind and body and deal with inflammations.
- The oil was found to reduce ADHD symptoms in children (6 – 14 years old). This study supports the beneficial effects of the oil. This can be done only after consulting with a doctor first.
- Another study performed on rats found the oil to have important sedative effects. They concluded that: “The findings indicate that cedrol inhalation had marked sedative effects regardless of the animal species or the functional state of the autonomic nerves, suggesting that the mechanism of action is via a pathway other than the olfactory system.” This means that Cedarwood oil can be used to calm down hyperactivity and induce sleep. How do I use Cedarwood oil for sleep, you might wonder. You can use Cedarwood oil by diffusing a few drops before going to bed. Or make a massage blend and rub your temples and chest with it.
- The oil of Cedarwood has strong anti-inflammatory effects too.
- It also has a beneficial effect on circulation problems (edemas, spider veins, heavy legs, etc.).
- The oil of Cedarwood should not be ingested without medical advice.
- Pregnant & breastfeeding women should not use it either. It can cause miscarriage.
- The same goes for children under 6 years of age.
- The oil can be very dangerous to people with epilepsy, seizures and/or asthma.
- It can be neurotoxic if used in large amounts, on long periods of time.
Why I like it:
Cedarwood essential oil is better suited for adults with ADD/ADHD. On top of the benefits I mentioned, it can also improve the aspect of skin. It’s great at soothing itching (skin and scalp) and speed up scar formation. The oil can also decongest breathing passages and calm down coughs.
4) Vetiver Essential Oil
Botanical name: Vetiveria zizanoides.
- Many of the Vetiver oil uses for ADHD are backed up by a few scientific researches. Vetiver can calm down and regulate the activity of the nervous system. The same study as for Cedarwood, found Vetiver more effective in reducing ADHD symptoms.
- Vetiver essential oil for ADHD can also improve brain activity. Another study found that Vetiver can maintain rat bodies more alert, from the start of the inhalation. They concluded that Vetiver essential oil is refreshing and stimulant.
- How to use Vetiver oil for ADHD? It is most efficient in inhalations, but it can also be used in massage blends.
- The oil of Vetiver is an immunostimulant. This means it can strengthen the immune system. How can it do that? By increasing the production of white blood cells. Tea Tree oil can also do that.
- Vetiver is another safe essence, as there aren’t many registered side effects to it. For children’s use however, you’d be best to talk to a doctor first.
- Avoid using it on babies and children under 6 years old without medical supervision.
- Special caution must be employed with this oil if you have asthma.
- For diffusion, think of mixing this oil with another aromatic essence.
Why I like it:
Besides being calming and stimulating, Vetiver has antioxidant properties too. What else can I mix with Vetiver, right? Well, Vetiver can be mixed with Cedarwood, Lavender, Mandarin and others for potent ADHD blends. It can also help with lymphatic system stimulation.
Other essential oils for ADD and ADHD:
Lavender – has proven sedating and calming effects on the nervous system. It can also help with sleep and relaxation. It is especially good for hyperactivity in children.
Ylang Ylang – The oil has been proven to lower blood pressure and heart rate. Thus, the oil of Ylang Ylang is a natural sedative. But it also has stimulant effects on the limbic system. This means the oil can increase your level of attention and make you feel more grounded. Ylang Ylang oil is great for ADD especially. But it works great for the rest of ADHD forms too.
Frankincense – can activate the limbic system, the brain’s memory center. Frankincense oil for ADD/ADHD can also stimulate the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus.
Rosemary – this is another oil that’s been in the spotlight for quite a while now. Rosemary is very high in cineole or eucalyptol. This means that Rosemary is one of the best, if not the best essential oil for attention and focus. Research found that cineole affects cognition and mood. it can help you gain that balance between emotions and physical responses.
Cypress – is one of the best oils for ADD, ADHD, depression, anxiety, etc. It can help with emotional balance and stability. Cypress can also help those that are easily distracted.
Ravintsara – is another good essential oil for ADHD. Ravintsara can limit impulsivity and calm down that burst of energy.
Basil – is great at soothing nerves and regulating mood. Basil essential oil is especially good for ADD. For attention deficit, it can help you focus on essential tasks, while calming your body too. For teens and adults only!
Peppermint – can help refresh the mood. It allows you to better focus too. It is dangerous for epileptic people or those with liver and kidney problems.
Essential oils for ADHD in children:
- Roman Chamomile
- Green Mandarin
- Sweet Orange
- Ylang Ylang
Essential oils for ADHD in adults:
- Roman Chamomile
- Green Mandarin
- Other citruses
- Ylang Ylang
Now you know what essential oils are good for ADD, as well as ADHD. Now, what essential oils are good for focus and concentration too, right? You can choose from:
- Green Mandarin
- Ylang Ylang
Some good essential oils for ADHD and autism are:
- Ylang Ylang
- Roman Chamomile
Always test your oils for allergic reactions! Mix one drop essential oil for ADD/ADHD with one drop carrier. Apply on the inside of your forearm and wait for 2 – 3 hours.
A reaction should appear (if at all) within this time. If nothing happens, you should be good to use the oil. Make sure it works well with medication and seek medical counsel when using CAM.
Now I’m done with the reviews of essential oils for ADHD. It’s time to move on to the next step and learn how to use them.
How to Use Essential Oils for ADD/ADHD
Aromatic oils are very concentrated plant extracts. Most of the times, plants don’t have enough oil yield. Because of it, tons of plant material are used for just a few liters/ounces of essential oil.
Because of this concentration, they must never be used pure on skin. Aromatherapy oils go well mixed with carrier oils.
The most common carriers are Olive, Sweet Almond, Jojoba, Argan, Olive, etc. Any one of them, but especially those without a strong aroma, makes good blends.
People in general and children especially, can be very sensitive to scents. The most sensitive of them are children with autism.
Make sure the essences you’re using are to their liking and don’t force an essence on them. This may cause resentment toward the essence and stress whenever they smell it.
How do you administer essential oils for ADD/ADHD? Aroma oils can be administered topically or by inhalation/diffusion. The latter works faster as the oil molecules are volatile. They enter the body via the nose, which happens in seconds.
Inhalations can be made directly from the essential oil bottle, or from an Aroma diffuser. If an Aroma diffuser is used, the right way to diffuse oils is:
- For 20 – 30 minutes, every 2 hours. The oils will continue to diffuse/disperse into the air after turning the device off. There are a few medical observations against inhaling volatile molecules for more than an hour. After that hour, the body starts to react more aggressively and cause agitation.
- In well ventilated rooms. Air needs to circulate during diffusion. Otherwise, aromatic oils can saturate the air and cause nausea and headaches.
- Avoid diffusing in a continuous manner.
- Also, avoid sleeping with the diffuser on. Diffuse for half an hour before going to bed and then turn the device off.
Depending on how big the space is, you can use between 5 – 15 drops of essential oils for ADD/ADHD.
Topical use of essential oils can be done with a ratio of 4 – 12 drops of aroma oils per ounce of carrier. For children, the amount should be minimal.
They are very sensitive, which means that for the right dosage, the advice of a doctor is needed. You can then apply the blend on:
- Along the spine.
- Near the carotid artery.
- Inside the elbow.
- Under the ear lobes.
These essential oil blends for ADHD can be used 2 – 3 times in the first days of treatment. Reduce the frequency slowly, until you get to do it once a day.
Essential Oil Recipes for ADD and ADHD
Here we are, at the most fun part of Aromatherapy: blending. Pick your favorite from the following essential oil recipes for ADD and ADHD and give it a try.
ADHD: Frustration, Impatience and Anger Roll-On Recipe for Adults
- Frankincense essential oil: 4 drops
- Ylang Ylang essential oil: 4 drops
- Lavender essential oil: 4 drops
- Carrier oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Give the blend a good shake before each use. Apply on pulse points with gentle massage movements and inhale deeply whenever needed. Be careful not to overdo it though!
Focus and Concentration Diffuser ADHD Essential Oil Blend
- Vetiver essential oil: 10 drops
- Rosemary essential oil: 10 drops
- Green Mandarin essential oil: 20 drops
Store this mixture in a used oil bottle. Add a few drops in your Aromatherapy diffuser, 2 – 3 times a day, especially while doing mental activities.
Relaxing, Sleep-Inducing Essential Oil Recipe for ADD/ADHD
- Sweet Orange essential oil: 20 drops
- Ylang Ylang essential oil: 15 drops
- Lavender essential oil: 10 drops
Store this blend in a dark glass bottle and diffuse a few drops before bed. Inhale deeply and focus on your breathing for a few minutes, until the oils have reached your brain and blood.
ADHD Blend Recipe for Children (3+ years)
- Roman Chamomile essential oil: 2 drops
- Green Mandarin essential oil: 3 drops
- Sweet Almond oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
Apply a few drops along the spine and on the solar plexus of the child, mornings and nights. Keep at it until the child feels better and continue only once a day for a week more.
It’s not wise to use the same oil blend for a very long time. Luckily, you have many essential oils for ADD, ADHD and autism to choose from for other recipes.
ADD and ADHD Facts, Diagnostics and Helpful Tips for Children and Adults Alike
Like I said in the beginning, ADD is the mildest form of ADHD. All ADHD forms start in early childhood and continue in adulthood. In adulthood however, the symptoms are different.
That is mostly because of the patient’s maturity and ability to control himself better. As a child though, an ADHD patient is harder to control, as he/she doesn’t have the right notions formed yet.
Every year, millions of children all around the world are diagnosed with ADHD.
Unfortunately, there’s no accurate way of detecting this disorder. Patients usually end up consulting with a doctor by chance. Or when their families and friends notice their restlessness.
A doctor will investigate closely. He will ask questions about the patient and his/her activities in the past 6 months.
There are 5 criteria for a close ADHD diagnostic:
- A permanent deficit of attention and hyperactivity (one or the other, or both).
- Whether these problems started before the age of 7 or not.
- Symptoms acting out at school and at home.
- Negative effects (if any) on the social, occupational and academic behavior.
- Exclusion of other possible diseases or disorders.
ADHD derived or induced additional problems:
- Tourette syndrome,
- Bipolar disorder,
- Difficulty in controlling anger,
- Difficulty in staying still.
Today’s treatment of ADHD involves psychological counseling and behavioral therapy. The education of patient and family plays a crucial importance in a successful management of ADHD.
Then, there is also medication. This medication uses powerful nervous system stimulants. They can change the brain chemistry, much like drugs.
In fact, some children even abuse their medication. They turn the pills into powder and sniff them, like cocaine.
There are tons of side effects for these medications. Which is why, essential oils for ADD and ADHD are a much better solution to manage all those symptoms.
General signs of ADHD in children, with all its forms:
- Not being able to perform a task until the end.
- Does not have age appropriate inhibitions.
- Can’t follow instructions.
- Can’t organize themselves.
- Can’t perform properly in school.
- Constant fiddling with hands and feet.
- Speaking too much.
- Giving up on projects.
- Inability to pay attention to details.
Of course, these signs and symptoms apply to an adult too, but they usually look a lot different. These feelings might be felt inside, but on the outside, an adult with ADHD may be able to control most of them. An adult is usually:
- Unable to maintain focus and attention for long periods of time.
- Easily distracted.
- Impulsive, with unusual reactions.
- Sudden limb movement.
- Unable to organize properly.
- Nervous and anxious.
- Unable to hold the same job for too long.
The consequences of all these symptoms may have serious repercussions on the life of an ADHD adult.
The exact mechanism of action and causes of ADHD are not yet known. However, many studies say that “genetic and neurobiological factors coupled with environmental factors increase the risk of ADHD”.
These factors can’t be singled out, mostly because there’s no way of telling which one triggered the disorder.
Other factors/diseases that may contribute to ADHD development are:
- Food poisoning,
- Food additives sensitivity,
- Poisoning by heavy metals,
- Nutritional deficiencies,
- Food allergies,
- Abnormal activity of the thyroid gland.
This is why doctors will first eliminate all these possibilities before their final diagnostic. This refers to the 5th criteria.
Tips for Children and Adults with ADHD
ADD, ADHD or both combined can be improved with the help of Aromatherapy. Here are a few tips and tricks to use to get relief and manage the symptoms better.
- Use massage blends as often as possible. It is best if the massages are made by someone else. For children (as well as for adults), human touch matters a lot to soothe emotions.
- Children with ADHD especially, are drawn to new challenges and adventures. Make sure there’s a healthy balance between them and calming and relaxing activities.
- It’s best to get your child used to a bit of discipline to keep his/her inclination toward chaos in check. This can be done by fixing hours for playtime, homework, exercising, eating and sleeping.
- Diffuse essential oils for ADD and ADHD 2 – 3 times a day, for the best support and health benefits.
Although this deficit disorder continues to have many unknown factors, it is easier to manage today. Aromatherapy is a good complementary and alternative medicine. There are a few good studies out there that support the efficacy of essential oils.
Essential oils for ADD and ADHD work because they can help a person calm down. They can also increase the level of focus and concentration, as well as promote a sound sleep. We give scents positive or negative meanings, which is why you need to use only aromas you like.