Essential oils come from the volatile oils in plants, which are found in a concentration of approximately 5% in nature. To make essential oils, large amounts of plant materials are gathered and steamed distilled using low temperatures or cold pressed (this is used for citrus oils). This is why they can be so expensive. Essential oils are very potent medicines and it is important to be sure they are of good quality while not falling for crazy marketing schemes where silly declarations of Certified Therapeutic Grade, etc... are used.
I find many people fall in love with the smell of essential oils and forget that they are in fact medicines and should be respected as such. One drop of essential oil can equal 35 to 75 cups of herbal tea. As you can see, they are very concentrated and potent. Essential oils should not be ingested, there are very few exceptions to this rule and only Qualified Health Practitioners would prescribe this administration after proper assessments of the individual has been made and diluted in an appropriate medium (not added to your water). Essential oils should not be applied neat on the skin (undiluted). Dilution like any dosing of any herb is different than what one would use for an adult. Essential oils can be over used and abuse, they should not be uses in all situations or all the time, nor should one be diffusing them 24/7. Like all other forms of herbal application, prescribing essential oils is both an art and science. There are still contraindications and not all oils are safe for children. It is best to seek the advice of an Aromatherapist or Herbalist.
With that being said, they are great for administering to children especially when proper care is taken. One can easily relieve discomfort and boost the immune system of an child by diffusing safe oils in their room while sleeping. Essential oils can even be used as part of a bedtime routine to assist children with sleep. Essential oils work very effectively on the limbic system (emotional brain). This is where smell triggers emotions, thus it can help children relax and overcome anxieties. Many essential oils have pain relieving, antibacterial, antifungal, and antispasmodic effects and much more making them very versatile. Even their application can be versatile, from sprays, inhalation, massage, foments, bathes and salves, which make giving this herbal treatment to a child very easy with no worries about whether to give on an empty stomach or full stomach and no struggles of administering a bad tasting remedy.
For infants turn to hydrosols, they are much gentler and safer. Hydrosols are produced during the distillation process of plant materials to make essential oils.
Dana Clark, CNHP, CHN, CHC
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