Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common condition characterized by hyperactivity, inability to maintain focus, and impulsive behavior. It usually starts in early childhood (8.4% prevalence among children), with a good chance of continuing into adulthood (2.5% prevalence among adults). Individual symptoms vary but the three generally accepted types are:
- Inattentive type
- Hyperactive/impulsive type
- Combined type
In the inattentive type, the individual’s symptoms relate to an inability to pay sustained attention. He/she is easily distracted, often loses things, forgets to do things, and has trouble organizing their work.
In the hyperactive/impulsive form of ADHD, the patient seems to be perpetually on the go. They can’t stay still, they talk too much, and they have trouble doing anything quietly. They also have trouble waiting their turn, whether while during a conversation or standing in line.
As the name suggests, someone with the combined form of ADHD will display a mixture of symptoms of the first two types.
Treatment of ADHD
Treatment of ADHD usually involves patients undergoing some kind of behavior modification or therapy where they learn ways to be more organized and better handle distractions.
If that doesn’t work, medication is usually the next step, however, essential oils are a natural alternative that should be given strong consideration.
What Are Essential Oils?
In short, essential oils are concentrated plant extracts.
They are made through several processes, mainly steam distillation or cold press extraction, and the resulting product is a volatile compound containing many of the health and aromatic benefits of the plants, without a large number of the plants being physically present.
As an example, it takes about 242,000 rose petals to get just 5ml of rose essential oil.
These oils are used in aromatherapy, where their scents provide various health benefits for individual and some oils can even be ingested or applied to the skin. An essential oils reference guide can help you to identify which oils are appropriate for certain uses, and how to use them.
Can Essential Oils Help With ADHD and Productivity?
The short answer is yes.
The aroma of essential oils work by entering olfactory system and stimulating certain hormones in the body which incite states and feelings such as alertness or sleepiness, and different oils work in their own ways to help with ADHD and its symptoms:
1. Vetiver Oil
Vetiver essential oil helps people with ADHD stay focused on a given task.
In 2016, the “Journal of Intercultural Ethnopharmacology” published a study that demonstrated that inhaling vetiver oil increased alertness in rats. The researchers had hooked up the rats to EEGs and observed an increase in brain activity after the rats inhaled the vetiver oil (1).
In another study by Dr. Terry S. Friedmann, ADHD diagnosed children were instructed to inhale vetiver essential oil three times per day for a 30 day period. This was overseen by their parents and behavioural changes (or lack thereof) were observed by both parents and teachers (2).
Both parents and teachers saw a marked improvement in the ADHD symptoms of the students and the improvement was also noted in their grades.
2. Rosemary Oil
Rosemary oil can help improve cognition.
In 2012, the journal “Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology” described a study researching the effects of a compound in rosemary oil called 1,8 cineole. The scientists found that volunteers exposed to the aroma of rosemary performed various tasks with greater accuracy and speed than people not exposed. The volunteers also reported feeling happier (3).
3. Lavender Oil
People with ADHD can have trouble falling and/or staying asleep, especially if they have the hyperactive type. Numerous studies have been completed on lavender essential oil that indicate that it works great as a mood stabilizer, mild sedative and anti anxiety remedy.
In 2014, researchers at the University of Minnesota conducted a study comparing different techniques for improving sleep, including the use of lavender oil. They found that participants got the best sleep if they both used lavender oil and cultivated good habits like having a set bedtime and avoiding food, nicotine, and alcohol before bed. Participants in the study would wear a patch filled with lavender oil on the upper chest below the neck, and they would inhale the oil’s aroma as they slept (4).
Other studies have been completed which show its effectiveness as a standalone mild sedative as well (5).
Trysh Sutton is an essential oils expert and the founder of Pure Path – a wellness site that provides actionable tips on healthy living and healing using natural methods such as essential oils.
However, Pure Path is not only a website. Instead, it is a community of healthcare professionals, natural health enthusiasts and any individual who is interested in information, products and tools that can help them live healthier, more fulfilling lives.
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