use of alternative healing practices has never been more popular. Some
studies show that nearly 40 percent of adults report using a kind of
alternative medicine, such as acupuncture or massage. Aromatherapy,
which uses essential oils from plants for healing, is also growing in
popularity, and although the word "aroma" makes it sound as
if the oils are inhaled, they can also be massaged into the skin or,
in rare cases, taken by mouth.
come from flowers, plants, trees, shrubs, roots and the peels of
fruits. "They can help in many different ways — with sleeping,
relaxation, moods, respiratory health, teething pain, focus, immune
function and more," says Kathy Jopke, a registered nurse at
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
Jopke, a nurse
for 25 years, became interested in using essential oils when her
8-year-old daughter was diagnosed with respiratory problems. "My
daughter was coughing and had trouble sleeping. Just by coincidence, I
had bought a kit with some essential oil blends. I wanted to try
aromatherapy instead of medication for her," she says. "I
used some in a diffuser — something like a humidifier — in my
daughter’s room. She liked the smell, and it helped her fall asleep
and breathe easier. It worked, so we’ve continued to use them."
safe for children include, but are not limited to: lavender oil, which
can be used to soothe and calm anxiety as well as for first aid and
sunburn; peppermint oil, which helps with colic and colds; and
eucalyptus oil, which is well-known for its use as a decongestant.
Frankincense (yes, the same thing the Bible’s Three Wise Men gave)
is also good for infections because of its anti-bacterial properties.
essential oils with babies and children, it’s best to combine one or
two drops of pure essential oils with ˝ to 1 teaspoon of a
"carrier" oil to dilute the essential. Common carrier oils
are sweet almond oil, sunflower oil and even olive oil. It is also
important to note that when adding essential oils to baths for
children, the oils must first be diluted in a water-soluble carrier,
such as raw unfiltered honey or vegetable glycerin. "Keep in mind
that essential oils are concentrated and should never be used
undiluted on the skin, especially not your children’s skin,"
says Jopke, who now teaches classes in the use of essential oils.
using essential oils for cleaning and disinfecting your child’s room
and bathroom. "I stopped using chemicals and harsh
cleaners," she says. "Essential oils are well-documented for
their powerful anti-microbial effect against infections." She
notes that hospitals are using essential oils for removing odors and
preventing the spread of disease, among other things.
You may wish to
discuss the use of aromatherapy with your pediatrician. "Be sure
to use 100 percent pure essential oil," Jopke stresses. "A
lot of different companies sell these oils, so do some research. Be
sure they are tested for purity." M