1. Have (or are you studying) whether or not essential oils have improved tantrums or extinction bursts?
No, currently we are investigating whether two mixtures of essential oils improve quality of life by increasing relaxation and sleep efficiency in children with ASD.
2. What oils best promote calm in an Autistic child? What exact oils/oil blend scents are you researching?
The literature suggests that several essential oils may be useful for increasing relaxation in humans. Some examples of these are lavender, rose, chamomile, and patchouli. However, the resulting reports from these investigations describe methodological issues that make interpretation difficult. We are investigating the effects of two essential oil mixtures in a randomized, double-blind, cross-over study, which together include 18 different essential oils.
3. Can essential oils help with focus/improved attention span and possibly lead to reduction in Ritalin doses?
Similar to the oils that are said to be useful for increasing relaxation, there are certain essential oils that are thought to be mentally stimulating, clarifying, and uplifting. Two examples of these are lemon and rosemary. Again, the literature describes studies that suggest these effects, but the investigations were not randomized clinical trials and more studies using scientific methods are necessary before we can say definitively that this is the case. There are currently no studies that suggest using an essential oil will lead to a reduction in Ritalin dosing.
4. If I were to start on one oil today, which one should I use? How to use it? Why?
Most people will start with an oil scent that is well known to them, such as lavender, or rose. These oils are used to relax the individual during stressful times of the day. There are two methods of oil application in aromatherapy, massaging the oil into the skin, and diffusion of the oil in the air. In the latter, it is necessary to purchase a diffuser to which water and the essential oils are added, then the aroma is diffused out into the air. Either method depends upon the user’s preference.
About Jill Hollway, Ph.D., M.A.