Aromatherapy or the use of essential oils has been a part of the healing sciences since ancient history. The origin of this modality has been traced back to ancient Egypt, and China. In Chinese culture, essential oils have been used as mood enhancers. Jean Valnet who was a French surgeon also used essential oils in order to heal the soldiers who had been wounded in World War 2. Even in Indian history, essential oils are used as a part of the holistic approach to treatment in Ayurveda, which focuses on balancing out the functions of the entire bodily functions.
There have been researches that show the efficacy of essential oils in reducing anxiety levels and overall boosting mood in individuals.
However, specific researches that highlight the effectiveness of aromatherapy in Autism Spectrum disorder are sparse. The symptoms of ASD manifest in many different ways. Due to sensory difficulties children with the diagnosis of ASD often experience mood fluctuations which can make them irritable and anxious. Aromatherapy can be used as a mean of inducing a better overall mood in children, it is not a cure but an aid to help parents in managing the mood-related symptoms better.
According to a survey done by one of the leading magazines for caregivers of Autistic children the below mentioned was found –
• 84% of parents have detailed medium to significant in general advantages
• 61% detailed that the oils helped in pacifying their kid during Meltdowns or Sensory Overloads
• 77% guardians have reported reduced hyperactivity levels in their children upon utilization
• 56% guardians felt that their child was relatively free from nervousness, stress, and overall anxiety
• 79% guardians reported diminished distress because of sensory difficulties
• Most significantly, 88% were content with the general impacts and said they would prescribe the same to other caregivers as well
Some of the essential oils that can be used are –
1. Tea Tree oil for skin sensitivity caused by environmental pollutants
2. Mandarin oil to calm down the nervous system and relieve stress
3. Vetiver oil for anger and irritability reduction, it also has antispasmodic and antiseptic properties
4. Cedarwood oil improving focus and inducing sleep
5. Ylang oil for lowering blood pressure and fighting depressive mood
6. Chamomile oil for calming effects and inducing better sleep
7. Peppermint oil for reducing muscular issues
8. Lavender oil for sleep and relaxation, it is used for the treatment of hyperactive children
There are different ways of administering these essential oils. Oil diffusers are used for spreading out the aroma the effects of this technique are more subtle. It can be used during bedtime with the child to increase sleep quality and for relaxation. Massages with diluted essential oils are more effective but the suitability and the skin sensitivity of the child must be taken into consideration first for this method. Adding a few drops of essential oils to the child’s bath is also possible. Taking steam with added oils might be difficult but depending upon the child it can be possible.
Apart from the above-mentioned factors, there are several other benefits of using aromatherapy. It is a natural remedy with no side effects if used with caution. It is cost-effective as most essential oils are easily available, and they can be used multiple times. However, certain cautions need to be practiced while using essential oils. The cheaper brands of oil may contain synthetic fragrance enhancers that may cause adverse effects, it is important to go for brands that are completely organic. While beginning the use of essential oils the caregivers should be observant of the child, some oils might be better suited than others.
Some of the best child psychologists & clinical psychologists in Delhi also use aromatherapy indirectly to induce relaxed states in clients before starting the therapeutic interventions. You can consult a child psychologist or an occupational therapist to know more about how aromatherapy can be customized to suit the therapeutic needs of your child.