Essential Oils For Autism
Autism is one of the great mysteries of our time. Once rare, this disorder varies greatly from person to person. Symptoms can appear at birth or years later, with the average diagnosis around the age of three. Many parents notice the signs long before diagnosis.
Once the diagnosis is made a treatment plan is devised. The basic treatments include therapies and medications that center around the social aspect of the disorder. Parents know that there is more to the spectrum of its expression. Autism can be overwhelming.
Helping a person function in this world is necessary. As a parent, you may notice that your child has digestive issues, cannot handle loud noises, and is terrified of the stairs. Your descriptions of these behaviors can lead down several roads with no end in sight.
There never seems to be an answer to your child’s discomfort. In addition to looking at modern methods, it may serve your family better to focus on treatments that are natural and have been around since the beginning of time.
When you think of essential oils you may not immediately think of them as a treatment for Autism. Just as varied as the symptoms from one person with Autism to the next, so are the options of these ethereal mediums. No singular treatment for Autism exists, but there are methods to treat the discomforts of this mysterious disorder.
Essential Oils For Autism
Lavender oil is possibly the most commonly known of the essential oils. It can be found in soaps, shampoos, lotions, and many other products to induce a calming effect. It is for this reason that it is listed first.
Persons with Autism often have anxiety, irrational fears, and disruptive sleep patterns. Over the counter medications, and some that are prescribed can be addictive or dangerous long term. Lavender oil is gentle and has several ways to tap into its benefits based on the person’s needs and tolerances.(1)
For topical use:
- Lavender can be mixed with a carrier like Jojoba or Grapeseed oils. Then apply directly onto the skin. It is suggested to place the oil onto the bottom of the feet. The feet are very porous allowing the oil to absorb more rapidly. Depending on the age of the person, placing the oil onto the feet can prevent accidental ingestion or eye irritation from direct contact.
- If you purchase diluted lavender oil it may not be necessary to blend with the carrier oil. If it is not diluted, or you feel that it is still strong, then mix three drops with two teaspoons of carrier oil for toddlers and infants older than three months. Add another drop for young children, and up to six drops for teenagers to adults.
- Always do a test spot before full application, to test for possible allergies or sensitivities.
For the bath:
- Lavender oil can be added to bath water. Using the same recommendations above, place three drops mixed with two teaspoons of carrier oil into the bathwater of a toddler or infant over three months of age. For young children add an additional drop. For teenagers to adults, up to six drops, can be added to the water.
- Do not add any essential oil directly to bath water. Since water and oil do not mix, the floating oil can have direct contact with the skin causing irritation. Always mix with a carrier oil before adding to the bath so that it is diluted if direct contact occurs.
In a diffuser:
- Lavender oil can be added to a diffuser and inhaled in the air. If this method is preferred, then follow the directions of the diffuser. Three to five drops per 100 mL of water will prevent irritation from inhalation.
- In a stressful situation, a few drops can also be added to a cotton ball and waved in front of the nose, briefly, to calm tantrums. It does not have to be close to the face. Waiving the scented cotton in the surrounding air may be enough to have a calming effect.
Peppermint oil does more than flavor holiday treats. It is one of the strongest essential oils and is imperative to dilute it in a carrier like Jojoba or Almond oils. The pleasant aroma can also have a calming effect.(2)
One of the major discomforts of Autism is inflammation caused by oxidative stress. Persons with Autism may not be able to detoxify the free radicals in the body. Glutathione is like a broom inside the cells that are supposed to turn on and clean out the damaging toxins. Even if the levels are normal, there may still be dysfunction in the process. Peppermint oil may reduce inflammation if the body is not detoxifying properly.
For topical use:
- Peppermint oil is very strong and must be diluted in a carrier oil for topical use. It is very cooling and can be mixed with Coconut and Jojoba oils as carriers. Gradually increase the peppermint oil by beginning with three drops of oil in two teaspoons of carrier oil for an adult. Adults can usually tolerate up to six drops in two teaspoons of oil for topical application.
- For teenagers and older children, it is imperative to start with three drops in two teaspoons of carrier oil. There may be no need to increase the concentration. Peppermint oil is fast acting and very potent.
- It is not recommended for young children under the age of three in any form.
For the bath:
- The same rules apply for the bath as topical use. Skin will come into direct contact with the oil floating in the bath. It is essential that it is mixed in a carrier oil prior to putting into a warm bath.
- Peppermint is very aromatic and will help with your preference of concentration. The strong smell may be an indicator that too much peppermint oil was used. Either discard and start over or add more carrier oil.
In a diffuser:
- Peppermint oil can be diluted in a diffuser or used directly. Follow the instructions of the diffuser. Peppermint can be overwhelming. Three to five drops per 100 mL of water will prevent irritation from inhalation.
Ginger has been used in digestive issues for centuries. Ginger oil can have a similar effect on the most common digestive issues in persons with Autism. Digestive problems run across the board in Autism. Some are mild, but others are incredibly severe and painful.
Intestinal health is one of the most important parts of the anatomy. The gut-brain connection, the seat of the immune system, leaky gut complications, and so many others come to mind. It is one of the most difficult to diagnose and heal since many either have no symptoms or it manifests as something else that draws medical focus.
Ginger has even been shown as an effective treatment for Candida overgrowth. One of the challenges with standard antifungal treatments, against Candida, is permeating the biofilm that protects the growing colony.(3)
Ginger has been shown to penetrate the biofilm covering, leaving the candida exposed and accessible for antifungal treatments. Ginger oil has both antibiofilm and antifungal properties.
For topical use:
- It is still important to diffuse in a carrier oil. Ginger oil is commonly available in a diluted form. Three drops to two teaspoons of a carrier oil like olive or avocado oils to start.
- Ginger oil can easily be made at home in the following way, which infuses the carrier oil into it.
1. Wash a cup of fresh ginger, with the skin on, and allow to dry for a few hours.
2. Pour one and a half cups of olive oil into an oven safe dish.
3. Heat the oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit
4. Peel the washed and dried fresh ginger root.
5. Shred the ginger with a grater or micro-planer.
6. Mix well into the olive oil.
7. Place into preheated oven for two hours.
8. Remove from heat and strain through cheesecloth to remove the large bits. (a nut milk bag can also be used but the mesh does not have to be that thin)
9. Place into a clean vial or bottle.
10. Store in a cool, dry place.
11. It should keep about six months.
For internal use:
- Ginger has been used in cooking for centuries. It is also a natural remedy for digestive issues and cholic. It is not a good idea to assume that it is completely safe because of its culinary prevalence. It is not considered generally safe for children under the age of two but has been used under the guidance of a physician. It is best to consult a physician for this age group.
- Ginger oil can be taken internally, but it is advised to go slowly and increase the dilution as an initial test. Ingesting ginger may be better if in the form of tea or ginger water. Ginger oil can also be found in the form of lozenges.
In a diffuser:
- Place two to three drops of ginger oil in a diffuser with 100 mL of water.
- Follow the directions of the diffuser. It is not recommended to exceed five drops with any essential oil.
Essential oils are a safe way to administer treatment for many of the symptoms that cause discomfort at the core of Autism. The four vehicles for administering the oils are topical, in the bath, internally, or by a diffuser. Each person with Autism is different and the method used is a personal choice.
A topical application could irritate the skin. It is always best to do a test area to check for any redness or irritation. This test is also a great indicator for all methods as the body will react to any form of contact or ingestion. If no irritation is noticed, then proceed slowly.
Many persons with Autism cannot communicate discomfort. Even those that have great communication ability may not understand to relate a slight headache, lightheadedness, a burning sensation, or an itch with the test of a topical essential oil. Take enough time to see if there are any negative effects. You may notice something but aren’t sure if it was caused by the essential oil or happenstance. Give it a few days and test again in a different spot.
For many persons with Autism, there are many different discomforts happening simultaneously. The urge is compelling to be aggressive in the treatment. It is never a good idea unless under the advice of a physician to be aggressive with any new form of treatment. Start with one and then add the next oil once you see that it is well tolerated.
Essential oils can be combined topically, in the bath, or with a diffuser. Even though they are natural and have an exhaustive track record, still proceed cautiously. There may be contraindications with medications and supplements.
As with any treatment for Autism, there is one thing to consider. When you meet one person with Autism, you have met one person with Autism. Each person is unique and treatments for one person may not be as effective on another. Healing is always a personal journey. Don’t get discouraged if one does not work.
Some people respond very quickly to therapies, and some improve more slowly. The victories are in the little improvements. Celebrate the inches, not just the milestones.
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