At a glance
Essential oils are plant extracts that have been distilled into concentrated forms.
Some people claim that using essential oils can help reduce symptoms of ADHD in children.
There’s no scientific evidence that essential oils directly help with ADHD symptoms.
You may have heard people talk about using essential oils to help with ADHD (also known as ADD). Lavender oil, vetiver oil, coconut oil and cedarwood oil are some of the ones often mentioned. (A common brand you may have heard of is doTerra.) But do these oils really work for ADHD and the problems with executive function that ADHD involves?
Learn about ADHD and essential oils, and whether they might help your child.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years to try to improve physical and mental health. But they’ve only been popular in the United States since the 1980s.
Essential oils are extracts that are taken from the leaves, roots, stems and blossoms of plants. They’re distilled into concentrated forms, and people inhale them or apply them in diluted forms to their skin.
It’s not clear how these oils work to improve a person’s sense of well-being, however. There’s some speculation that the oils send chemical messages to the parts of the brain that affect mood and emotion. But there’s very little research into how, or how much, they may actually help.
Parents sometimes share positive experiences their child has had with these oils. Without research, it’s hard to know if that might be a placebo effect. Sometimes just thinking a treatment will work actually makes them work.
Scientific research on ADHD and essential oils
Small studies have also suggested that lavender may improve sleep.
What essential oils for ADHD might help with
Even if they don’t directly help reduce ADHD symptoms, certain essential oils may help kids with ADHD in other ways. These oils have properties that many say are soothing, quieting and calming, and that reduce anxiety. They include:
- Roman chamomile
If you think your child may benefit from essential oils, there’s usually no harm in trying. Most these oils are considered safe. If your child has severe asthma or allergies, however, you should talk to your child’s doctor first.
Understood is not affiliated with any pharmaceutical company.
There’s very little research into how, or how much, essential oils can help children and adults.
Some parents have shared their kids’ positive experiences with essential oils for ADHD and general well-being.
There’s usually no harm in trying essential oils, but there’s no proof that they help with ADHD.
About the author
About the author
The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.
Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, PhD, NCC, DCMHS, LMHC is an author, mental health counselor, and Florida Supreme Court certified family and circuit mediator. She specializes in anxiety, gaslighting, narcissistic abuse, and ADHD.