7 Best Essential Oils for ADHD
ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and, according to the CDC, is one of the most commonly diagnosed neurodevelopmental childhood disorders.1 While adults can also be diagnosed, it’s more frequently discovered while children are school-aged.
ADHD affects the brain and can have an impact on a child’s performance and behavior in school and social situations, as well as at home. Currently, there is no lab test that can determine if ADHD is present or not, and a clinical diagnosis is often made based on gathered information from family members, teachers, medical information and various evaluations.2
What causes ADHD?
Researchers have yet to find the exact cause of ADHD. However, some factors that may increase the likelihood of ADHD include:
- Brain injury
- Environmental toxin exposure
- Fetal exposure to drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes
- Premature birth3
What are the symptoms of ADHD?
ADHD comes with a wide range of symptoms that may differ depending on the child. Also affecting symptoms is the fact that there are 3 different subtypes of ADHD, which usually have a range of different symptoms within each subtype. The 3 subtypes are:
- Predominantly inattentive
- Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive
- A combination of inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive4
While symptoms can vary with each child depending on which subtype of ADHD they have, some of the most common general symptoms of ADHD include:
- Carelessness on tasks
- Difficulty focusing
- Difficulty getting along with others
- Lack of impulse control
- Being fidgety
- Anxiety and/or depression
Treatments for ADHD
Currently, there is no medical cure for ADHD. However, common treatments include behavior modification and oftentimes medication. However, there is a growing number of medical practitioners and parents who believe that diet, supplements, detoxification, exercise, and other lifestyle changes have a positive effect on the symptoms of ADHD, although there is no scientific proof to support this theory.
What are the best essential oils for ADHD?
While essential oils will not provide a cure for ADHD, they may be able to help with some of the symptoms associated with it such as anxiety, depression, irritability, and more. Below, I’ve listed 7 of the best essential oils for ADHD. I encourage you to give them each a try and see which ones work best for you or your child.
As one of the gentlest essential oils, lavender is a stellar choice when choosing essential oils for ADHD—especially when dealing with stress, anxiety, and depression. Lavender is a universally loved essential oil that has a cheery and calming aroma that is often associated with relaxation. The herb has been used for numerous issues, including many associated with nervous disorders.
A study conducted in 2016 found that post-partem women who inhaled 3 drops of lavender essential oil every 8 hours for 4 weeks reported significantly lower amounts of stress, depression, and anxiety than those who did not inhale the essential oil. This versatile oil may offer similar benefits for those suffering from ADHD.5
2. Sweet Orange
Citrus oils are commonly known to be some of the most uplifting essential oils. The sweet, fruity aroma of sweet orange is no exception. Not only is sweet orange beneficial in promoting a calm environment, it’s also considered beneficial in boosting one’s mood as well.
A study conducted in 2000 found that patients waiting for dental procedures had decreased anxiety, improved mood, and felt more calm after being exposed to the aroma of sweet orange essential oil.6 Additionally, like all the essential oils mentioned in this article, sweet orange is safe to use around children and is a fantastic addition to any blend.
Chamomile herb has been used for centuries for issues involving the nervous system, and the essential oil shares many of the same characteristics. The aroma of chamomile oil is especially pleasing with its sweet, fruity fragrance. Additionally, it is very gentle and is therefore a great option to consider when choosing essential oils for ADHD. Not only has chamomile been found to promote quality sleep, but it’s also frequently used when dealing with irritability, stress, and anxiety.7
Chamomile can be used by itself. However, it tends to be more costly than many essential oils, so using it in a blend with other oils is a good option to consider.
Vetiver is one of the best essential oils for ADHD for many reasons. The deep earthy aroma is well-liked by many and blends well with numerous essential oils. It also does a fantastic job of anchoring blends and providing depth that can complete a blend flawlessly.
Furthermore, vetiver is well-known as a grounding essential oil. It is believed to help balance out the mood and emotions, making it a great choice to use in situations where the emotions and mood are out of alignment. It’s also a very calming oil that can be used to encourage a relaxed environment and help with restlessness. Vetiver would be a good choice for both topical applications and diffuser blends.
Along with its potent antimicrobial properties, frankincense essential oil contains numerous properties that may be beneficial when dealing with symptoms of ADHD. Specifically, frankincense contains calmative and nervine properties that can be beneficial when restlessness, irritability, or agitation are an issue.
In addition, frankincense is also believed to contain antidepressant properties.8 In fact, a 2008 study found that a 1.5% dilution of equal parts frankincense, lavender, and bergamot used in a massage oil significantly reduced pain and depression in terminal cancer patients.9 The aroma of frankincense blends well with many other essential oils, making it well-suited for blends formulated for ADHD.
Bergamot is well-known for its mood-boosting and stress-relieving properties. As a citrus oil, it has a fresh, uplifting aroma that can improve your mood, as well as promote a calm environment. In fact, it is believed to help with stress, anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders.10
Due to it being a phototoxic oil, bergamot is best used in diffuser blends. If topical applications of bergamot are used, however, exposure to sunlight should be avoided and a dilution of less than 0.4% should be used.11 With such a pleasant aroma, bergamot could indeed be diffused on its own, but it is especially nice when blended with other citrus oils or florals.
Like vetiver, patchouli essential oil is considered by many to be beneficial for stabilizing the mood and emotions. It’s frequently used in formulations for depression, stress, and anxiety. Patchouli is especially nice when used in blends, as it has the ability to provide depth with its woody fragrance.
The aroma of vetiver does tend to be polarizing, with most people knowing right away whether they like it or not. For this reason, it may be best to introduce it in small amounts and combine with other essential oils when you are first using it around your child, in case he or she does not like it.
Essential oil blends for ADHD
Essential oil blends are a great way to utilize the therapeutic properties of multiple essential oils at one time. Below, I’ve created two relaxing and calming essential oil blends for ADHD that are child-safe and would be especially beneficial when mood and emotions are out of balance. However, feel free to substitute other essential oils or make adjustments to suit your needs and preferences.
ADHD Blend #1
- 3-4 drops lavender essential oil
- 3-4 drops Roman chamomile essential oil
- 3-4 drops vetiver essential oil
Use the above essential oils in your diffuser, based on the manufacturer’s instructions.
ADHD Blend #2
- 3-4 drops sweet orange essential oil
- 3-4 drops frankincense essential oil
- 2-3 drops patchouli
Use the above essential oils in your diffuser, based on the manufacturer’s instructions.
Additionally, both of these blends would work nicely as roll-on blends for topical application. Simply choose a blend and combine one drop of each of the essential oils (3 drops total) with enough jojoba oil or other carrier oil to fill a 10 mL roller bottle. Shake well to thoroughly combine and apply to the wrists and/or back of the neck.
Use essential oils for ADHD symptoms
ADHD is one of the most commonly diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorders among school-aged children. Currently, there is no cure for ADHD, but treatment often includes behavior modification and/or medication.
While essential oils may not be able to cure ADHD, there are many ways that they can be useful when dealing with some of the symptoms—especially those related to mood and emotions. Certain essential oils have the ability to help with promoting a calm environment, reducing stress, anxiety, depression, sleep issues, and more.
If age-appropriate oils are used, they can be diffused or applied topically and you may find that they are an especially enjoyable addition to your child’s day. You can take the process of choosing essential oils a step further by discovering the body’s unique preferences for essential oils with a ZYTO bioscan.
About Nicole Stine
Nicole Stine is a certified herbalist who has numerous aromatherapy and natural health certifications. She is passionate about using herbs and essential oils safely and thoroughly enjoys researching and writing about natural health, as well as creating her own formulations.
1. “What Is ADHD?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cdc.gov.
2. “What Is ADHD?” American Psychiatric Association. Psychiatry.org.
3. “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health. Nimh.nih.org.
4. “Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Mayoclinic.org.
5. Kianpour, M., A. Mansouri, T. Mehrabi, & G. Asghari. “Effect of lavender scent inhalation on prevention of stress, anxiety and depression in the postpartum period.”Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research 21, no. 2 (2016): 197.
6. Lehrner, J, Christine Eckersberger, P Walla, G Pötsch, and L Deecke. “Ambient odor of orange in a dental office reduces anxiety and improves mood in female patients.”Physiology & Behavior 71, no. 1-2 (2000): 83–86.
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8. McDermott, Annette. “Can Essential Oils Treat My Symptoms of Depression?” Healthline Media. Healthline.com.
9. Chang, S.Y. “Effects of Aroma Hand Massage on Pain, State Anxiety and Depression in Hospice Patients with Terminal Cancer.”Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing 38, no. 4 (2008): 493.
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