As temperatures drop, colds coughs and infections start to rise.  Here are a few useful tips on the use of essential oils for children that may be of use through the winter months.

Aromatherapy is the science and art of using natural fragrances for their therapeutic and healing properties.  The scents used from the aromatic oils incorporate touch and smell to assist in healing and uplifting the mind and body.

Essentials oils are extracted by numerous methods from different parts of the plant such as flowers, leaves, roots and tree resins.  They are harvested at different times of the day and like wines  there are good and bad years for harvesting  which will reflect in the price of the essential oil.

The main ways of using the oils for babies and children are massage, aromatic baths and inhalations via burners, light bulb rings, tissues, and vaporisers or diffusers.  For babies (3 months to 2 years) use 1 drop of essential oil in 15 mls of carrier oil such as sweet almond oil which can be used for massage or in the bath.  For children 2 to 5 years 1 or 2 drops and children 5 to 12 years 2 to 4 drops in 15 mls carrier oil.  Essential oils must always be diluted in a carrier oil or mixed with water.

There are three essential oils that are particularly useful for children.  Myrtle is a large bush or small tree with white flowers followed by black berries.  The essential oil is extracted from the leaves, twigs and flowers.  It is a pale yellow oil with a fresh, camphoraceous scent.  It is a mild and gentle oil and may be particularly useful for children with respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, catarrah, coughs and chest complaints. It is mildly sedative and may assist in boosting the immune system in relation to colds, flu and infectious diseases.

Roman Chamomile is a small perennial herb with feathery leaves and daisy-like white flowers.  The essential oil is extracted by steam distillation of the flower heads.  Roman is the best type of chamomile for children.  It is analgesic, anti-allergenic and one of its constituents, azulene has anti-inflammatory properties.  It’s digestive action may assist with childrens problems relating to digestion such as colic and constipation.  1 drop in 15 mls of sweet almond oil may be used to massage round the abdomen in a clockwise direction to help ease digestive problems.  Using it as  a massage oil may also help with eczema and inflammation.  This may produce a calming, analgesic effect.  It may also be useful for sleep problems.  For children suffering with earache, soak a small piece of cotton wool in the massage oil then place directly into the ear.

Mandarin oil is a favourite with babies and children.  Mandarin is a small evergreen tree with glossy leaves and fragrant white flowers followed by small orange fruits.  The oil is extracted by cold expression of the peel or fruit.  The oil has antiseptic , antispasmodic, carminative, digestive, diuretic, sedative and toning properties.  It may therefore be useful for babies with colic or constipation.  Use as a massage oil as described for Roman chamomile oil on the babies abdomen.  Gently stroke the abdomen with your fingertips in a clockwise direction.  It may also be useful for sleep problems as it has a sedative property.  This oil may also be used for pregnant mums as a preventative for stretch marks.  Use up to 7 drops in 15 mls sweet almond oil and massage over the abdomen.

A recipe to prevent itching from chickenpox (for children over 5 years)

100 mls distilled water 50 mls witch hazel 4 drops roman chamomile oil 4 drops lavender oil 4 drops eucalyptus oil

Put into a dark glass bottle, then dilute 50/50 with warm water and then sponge the skin. If the scalp is affected,  add 6 drops of lavender oil to a basin of warm water and pour jugfuls over the childs hair, taking care to avoid the eyes.

Compresses and inhalations

Compresses may be useful for wounds, boils and bruises.  To 300 mls hot/cold water add 2-4 drops of essential oil ( Lavender for bruises).  Agitate and then lay a cloth on the affected part and cover with a dry towel.

Steam inhalations  may be useful for chest problems, but are not suitable for asthmatics.  To a bowl of hot water add 2-4 drops of essential oil (for example myrtle).  Cover the head with a towel, lean over the bowl for 1-5 minutes and inhale.  For snuffly babies, use 1-2 drops of oil in a special room vaporiser.

For more information on aromatherapy massage please contact Frances Box, Aromatherapist and Reflexologist at Luck’s Yard Clinic on 01483 527 945