Contributing writer for Wake Up World
About 11 percent of U.S. children (or 6.4 million) have been diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),1 which is characterized by a pattern of inattention, hyperactivity and/or impulsivity that interferes with learning, daily functioning and relationships. Rates of diagnosis have been increasing by about 5 percent a year.2
Among very young children (ages 2 to 5 years), behavioral therapy is the first-line treatment recommended for ADHD, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). However, data from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that about half of preschoolers with ADHD were taking medication, and 1 in 4 were being treated only with medication.3 Further, only half of 4- to 5-year-olds with ADHD received behavior therapy, despite it being the recommended go-to treatment. By age 6, the so-called “best practice guidelines” for ADHD include treatment with both medication and behavior therapy.
It’s a sad state of affairs on multiple fronts, the first of which surrounds the accuracy of ADHD diagnoses. Misdiagnosis is common, which means many children may be taking mind-altering medications unnecessarily. The other glaring issue is the dangers of ADHD drugs themselves, which are immense. Kids taking these powerful drugs may suffer from side effects ranging from sleep problems and loss of appetite to seizures and increased heart rate, which is why alternative treatment options are urgently needed.
Fortunately, one age-old option — essential oils — has shown promise in helping to relieve the symptoms of ADHD.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are concentrated, aromatic plant extracts that have been used for thousands of years for emotional, cosmetic, medical and even spiritual purposes.
The term “essential oil” actually comes from the idea of “quintessential oil.” Aristotle believed that in addition to the four physical elements (fire, air, earth and water) there was a fifth element, quintessence. This was considered to be the “spirit” or life force of the plant, and distillation or evaporation were used to remove the “spirit” for human usage (this is also why distilled alcoholic beverages are referred to as “spirits”).4
Today, essential oils, which contain complex mixtures of beneficial plant chemicals, are extracted from plants via two primary methods: distillation, which has been used since ancient times; and expression or cold pressing, which is used to extract citrus essential oils