Aromatherapy with ADD & ADHD

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By Amber LaBorde

ADD, or Attention Deficient Disorder, is a developmental disorder often diagnosed in childhood. The diagnosis of ADD is given to children who are inattentive, impulsive and, in the case of ADHD, hyperactive. As more information known about ADD and research is done on ADD, more children and adults are being diagnosed. According to The Health Center approximately 3-5% of children have ADD and of those, research indicates that 30-70% continue to be symptomatic in adulthood.

Hyperactivity is, by definition, having increased movement, impulsive actions, a shorter attention span, and being easily distracted. It’s caused by ADHD, Brain or Central Nervous System Disorders, and a Racing Brain, among other things.

While the first instinct when working with hyperactivity is to look for oils to relax, sedate, and calm down, it is really important to also include oils for clarity and to uplift. When only sedating and grounding oils were used, there have been instances where lethargy and a bit of depression have set in. This in part is due to the chemical component linalol. Balance is the key here when working with issues dealing with the brain.

Typically patients diagnosed with ADD or ADHD are prescribed a stimulant medication such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine, or a non-stimulant medication such as Strattera or some anti-depressants. Many people are concerned about the side effects and long-term effects that these medications may have and are turning to alternative and complementary ways to treat the symptoms of ADD and ADHD. One of the alternative ways to aid your clients or loved ones who suffer from ADD is aromatherapy.

 The principle behind aromatherapy is that certain naturally occurring chemicals contained within essential oils can be used to treat a wide variety of physical, mental and emotional disorders. The success of these essential oils arises from the fact that they stimulate parts of the body that are not functioning properly, restoring the body to its natural state. Recent scientific studies have confirmed the presence of certain key chemicals in essential oils that may react with the nervous, muscular system, and all other systems of the body to encourage healing.

 Aromatherapy treatments tend to differ for each individual. The correct oil or blend is best determined with a Clinical Consultation between Aromatherapist & client. We do know that some essential oils appear to be especially effective for the person with ADD or ADHD because of their well-known properties.

 Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) France: It is often effective in producing a slight sedative effect, causing a person to calm down & relax.

 Cedarwood Atlas (Cedrus atlantica) Morocco: This oil is thought to stimulate the central nervous system, it is also very grounding.

Frankincense (Boswellia carterii) Ethiopia: Known for its ability to lower anxiety and depression, producing a calming effect. It quiets the mind so one can focus. Enhances self-esteem.

 Vetiver (Andropogon zizanoides) Java: Very calming and grounding. Can improve concentration.

 Chamomile, Roman (Chamaemelum nobile) USA: Can be used for hyperactivity, nice combined with Lavender.

 A blend of Frankincense, Lavender, Grapefruit combined can be used for frustration, impatience and anger.

 A blend of Rosemary & Lemon will help with memory & concentration, and will also enhance alertness.

 Try inhaling Rosemary, Peppermint, Lemon or Frankincense when studying or learning; then inhale the same aroma when you need to recall the information. Try diffusing Lavender, Lemon, or Rosemary to help aid in concentration.

 Ylang Ylang, Ginger, Sandalwood, Patchouli, and Nutmeg all have calming, grounding properties on the emotional and physical levels.

 Lemon, Mandarin, and Cinnamon leaf enhance focus by gently stimulating the mind.

 There was a case study published in the American Medical Association Journal by Dr. Terry Friedman M.D. that found significant results when children who were previously diagnosed with ADD/ADHD inhaled essential oils of Vetiver, Cedarwood Atlas, and Lavender France.

 The inhalation of oils proved to settle the children’s brain waves back into normal patterns and improved their scholastic performance and behavioral patterns. Some final results were:

                             Lavender increased performance by 53%

                             Cedarwood Atlas increased performance by 83%

                             Vetiver increased performance by 100%

The combined blend overall improved attention span in test subjects 65-100%.

We have had helped many clients that suffer from various forms of hyperactivity. Despite what is touted on the internet, there is not just one blend or just some oils that work. There are many essential oils that assist with calming the mind, psyche and spirit.

With that being said, here are some oils that we have found to be extremely effective in assisting with hyperactivity of all sorts.

Note: There is a slight difference in oils that are calming.  All oils that are grounding are also calming but all oils that are calming are not necessarily grounding.


Roman Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile

Lavender Lavandula angustifolia

Sandalwood Santalum paniculatum

Ho Wood Cinnamomum camphora

Marjoram Origanum majorana


Vetiver Veteveria zizanoides

Himalyan Cedarwood Cedrus deodora

Buddha Wood Eremophila mitchelli

Patchouli Pogostemum cablin


Sweet Orange Citrus sinenses

Bergamot Citrus bergamia

Pink Grapefruit Citrus paradisi

Jasmine Jasminum grandifloram


Frankincense Boswellia carterii

Palo Santo Bursera graveolens

Fragonia Agonis fragrans

Spearmint Mentha spicata

Rosemary Rosemarinus ct camphor

 Many people also find relief from ADHD symptoms by making steady lifestyle changes.

For example, drinking herbal teas such as chamomile may promote a calm state of mind.

Likewise, a diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids could lead to a decrease in ADHD symptoms.

Many people find relief from restlessness by exercising daily. Practices including meditation, yoga, and Tai chi may help to provide a more balanced state of mind.


Amber M. LaBorde is a Clinical Aromatherapist & Co-Founder at the Wholistic Aromatics Institute. Visit for more information.