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Purity power
The healing effects of essential oils benefit children too


September 2016

The 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.

Essential oils 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."

Essential oils 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.

When using 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.

Jopke recommends 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



This story ran in the September 2016 issue of: