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ADHD - attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Parts of this were taken with permission from Essential Oils Overview and Reference Guide, published by: The Family Tree, 2008


see also Autism/Asperger Syndrome (how Autism and ADHD differ is detailed below)

ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is a neurobehavioral disorder that causes an inability to focus and listen to direction.  In older literature the term ADD or “ADD with hyperactivity” has been used for this same disorder.

“Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder that affects 3-5 percent of all American children. It interferes with a person's ability to stay on a task and to exercise age-appropriate inhibition (cognitive alone or both cognitive and behavioral). Some of the warning signs of ADHD include failure to listen to instructions, inability to organize oneself and school work, fidgeting with hands and feet, talking too much, leaving projects, chores and homework unfinished, and having trouble paying attention to and responding to details. … ADHD is usually diagnosed in childhood, although the condition can continue into the adult years.”


A summary of the relationship of Asperger syndrome, autism, and ADHD

Because symptoms are similar between these disorders confusion may exist with the inexperienced in diagnosis as well as proper response. (for those that have children with these disorders it is not difficult to understand the difference.) The following summary addresses the similarities and differences.

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects the way a child communicates and interacts.  It can be generalized as ASD (autism spectrum disorder) that includes a range of different manifestations that varying in degree of severity.  ASD includes Asperger’s syndrome (high-functioning autism), autism, and PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorders-not otherwise specified).

ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) is a neurobehavioral disorder that causes an inability to focus and listen to direction.  In older literature the term ADD or “ADD with hyperactivity” was used for this same disorder.

One of the notable differences some have noted is that those with autism do not learn well from experience (or coping) but rather by rote or memorization.  Most love structure and will repeat very well learned structure.  On the other hand those with ADHD will learn from experiences and are able to extrapolate this learning to other experiences.

It is believed the root causes of the two disorders are different but since they are both developmental disorders and both affect children in communication, social interaction, and behavioral characteristics they can be confused and even misdiagnosed.  The website www.retrainthebrain.com gives the following lists of the behaviors occurring in autism and ADHD:

Autism Behavioral Checklist

·   Difficulty mixing with other children

·   No real fear of danger

·   Tantrums: displays extreme distress for no apparent reason

·   Inappropriate giggling or laughing

·   May not want cuddling or act cuddly

·   Noticeable physical over activity or extreme under activity

·   Little or no eye contact

·   Works impulsively; often makes careless mistakes: work is sloppy*

·   Uneven gross/fine motor skills*

ADHD Behavioral Checklist

·   Cannot talk or play quietly; disrupts others with talk or actions

·   Difficult awaiting turn in games or activities

·   Engages in potentially dangerous activities

·   Plays without normal caution or  consideration of consequences

·   Severe temper tantrums  

·   Interrupts, disrupts, talks and acts inappropriately

·   When younger, difficulty accepting soothing or holding

·   Always on the move, overactive, even during sleep

·   Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly

·   Often does not give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in school work or other activities

·   Uneven gross/fine motor skills

*editor's note: Some that have had experience with children with these disorders disagree with some points.  For instance a child with Asperger Syndrome is very structured in what they do and would not be considered sloppy.  What may appear to us to be a careless mistake is not to them from their point of view.  This same child may also have very good motor skills.  Also the difficulty in communication skills is much different between autistic and ADHD children.

A common symptom between autism and ADHD is that either may suffer from gross and fine motor skills as well as the impulsive driven behaviors. In some cases, the autism behaviors reveal a deficit in being able to respond emotionally.   

Essential oils, autism and ADHD.  Like other health concerns these disorders may be helped at multiple levels.  Since many of the symptoms (behaviors) are common between the two disorders there will be benefits from the same oils.  As you work with the oils you will find what works best for your child as well as the mode of application.  By clicking on the Suggested Protocols and Experiences & Testimonials tabs on this page and the Autism page you will see the experiences of others using oils to help.


[search helps: Aspergers, autistic, hyper, hyperactive]

Oils, blends & products recommended:

Please note: The information provided below is a compilation of suggestions made by those that have used essential oils and has NOT been scientifically verified with clinical tests nor reviewed by medical experts. It is anecdotal information and should be treated as such. For serious medical concerns please seek professional medical attention.

Oils & Blends: Grounding BlendC, Clary Sage, FrankincenseC, Focus Blend, LavenderC, Calming BlendC, VetiverC, Ylang Ylang

Essential oils based products: Basic Vitality Supplements (LLV)

Also consider: BasilC, Invigorating BlendC, DillC, Joyful Blend (Elevating Blend)C, Marjoram, PatchouliC

Note: to understand the E and C superscript go to Home and scroll to New Helps.

Suggested protocols:

Note - Since many with ADD/ADHD, asperser's, or autism are highly sensitive to odors and sometime touch do not force the application of oils if it is a negative experience as this will build a experiential resentment towards their use in the future. Many times it is successful letting them make their own selection from a few choices of oils.

Focus Blend - A special blend (Amyris, Frankincense, Lime, Patchouli, Roman Chamomile, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang) prepared to enhance focus and support healthy thought processes.  

Frankincense - Stimulates limbic system of the brain.

Lavender - Calming and relaxing to nervous system.

Grounding Blend - Detoxifying, promotes courage and self-esteem

Vetiver - Calming and Relaxing

Clary Sage - Uplifting, may help with depression.

Blend Frankincense and Vetiver - Some have success with this simple blend.

Basic Vitality Supplements (LLV)– Give the body needed nutritional balance.  Necessary for proper brain function.

Application - These oils and blend can be inhaled or carried via the blood stream. For the latter applied topically to the feet is effective or with a light massage action along the spine. Dr. DJugular veinsavid Hill also recommends applying the oils to in regions that are in close proximity to the sources of blood flow to the brain. Two he specifically mentions are on the areas of the right and left jugular just below the chin on the front and each side of the neck. The other is the suboccipital triangle which not only gives proximity to arterial flow to the brain but also key neurological tissue. He describes finding this by placing the fingers on the sub occipital protuberance (little bump at the top of the spine on the back of the neck) then jusuboccipital trianglest below this grip the large muscle tissue and roll the fingers off to the side. This depression just behind and below the ear is the suboccipital triangle and the location Dr. Hill suggests is an excellent place to topically applies these oils and blends.


The early writers on use of essential oils (Valnet, Tisserand, Gassefosse) came before our modern era where this type of disorder has become so common.  For that reason there is no information from them on the use of oils.  More recent essential oils users have documented their successes in using oils to address the symptoms often experienced by those with ADHD. Summarized below are some of their recommendations:

·   For frustration, impatience, and anger use oils and blends that calm.  Grounding Blend, Calming Blend, Frankincense, Lavender, Ylang Ylang.  Applying to the feet, back of the neck, behind the knees, and diffusion are all suggested.

·   For improved concentration the oil Vetiver.  Again on the feet or, for school children that need help during the school day, a necklace with a pendant that will absorb the oil will make it available all day.

·   Some, with autism, are particularly sensitive to smell and may resist the use of oils.  Applying to the feet, even after they are asleep, can circumvent this problem.

·    Also go to the “Especially for Kids” tab to read the experiences of others directly.  There are good suggestions on “touch” and support (some are very moving and helpful). One mentions the method of letting the child smell a number of different oils and blends and look for those giving a positive reaction. Her child responded to Blend for Women.

The following blend was submitted by a mother that had great success with 3 children. (Editor's note: now also available pre-made, search for Peaceful Child Blend online):

Peaceful Child Blend
  18 drops Vetiver
  10 drops Ylang Ylang
  7 drops Frankincense
  5 drops Clary Sage
  3 drops Marjoram
  12 drops Fractionated coconut oil

Blend in a roll on bottle and apply to bottoms of feet and on the brain/ spinal reflex points of the feet right after showering in the morning.

Experiences and Testimonials of others

Please note: The information provided below is a compilation of the experiences of others who have used essential oils and has NOT been scientifically verified with clinical tests nor reviewed by medical experts. It is anecdotal information and should be treated as such. For serious medical concerns please seek professional medical attention.

Please!!! Also go to the tab Especially for Kids

Submissions directly to  EverythingEssential.me.  Our thanks to:

      Patti Brisco

Carrie - I have not been involved in with (...) oils for very long, but my experiences have been mind blowing. I had been taking anti-depressants and ADD medications for over 25 years.  Of course when you take those drugs then there will be others added so you can get to sleep at night, its a viscous cycle.

I have tried to get off of them for 25 years, with no hope..until someone told me about (...) oils and my life changed forever.  Within 1 week I was off all anti-depressants, and a few days later I realized I didn't need the ADD mediation. I'm still working on getting to sleep at night by myself, but I think that will come in time.

So I was telling My brother in-law this a few weeks ago on the phone and after I hung up he called me right back and asked if these oils would help Dad, who has been suffering from terrible pain in his hip and shoulder for some time now.  I said yes, I was going to say something but I really didn't think he would try them... So I sent him some samples..so the following week David (by brother in-law) was visiting my father in-law again and he was in severe pain and David said "Dad didn't Patti send you some oils?"  he said "yes, but they are not going to work!"  Well how do you know if you don't try them..just go put them on what will it hurt... so he does that and comes back a few minutes later and David asked him how the pain was and he said...THERE IS NO PAIN...  now he is singing the (...) song!!  These oils change peoples lives!

Protocols folks recommend for children

Submissions directly to  EverythingEssential.me.  Our thanks to:


Cindy - I have 3 adopted boys.  Being drug babies they came with a host of emotional and psychological issues.  Oils really has changed the atmosphere in our home from frazzled, frantic, fanatical to controlled chaos.  Our youngest age 8 has sensory processing disorder, our middle age 10 has oppositional defiance disorder, and our oldest age 12 has ADD tendencies although never diagnosed.  I came across the Peaceful Child blend and wanted to share it because it has done wonders for our boys and my niece who is autistic.

Peaceful Child blend
  85 drops Vetiver
  30 drops Ylang Ylang
  20 drops Frankincense
  15 drops Clary Sage
  10 drops Marjoram
  35 drops Fractionated coconut oil

I cut the recipe in 1/3 and mix in a roll on bottle that they apply to bottoms of feet on the brain/ spinal reflex points of the feet,  They apply themselves right after showering in the morning. They also use Calming Blend and Invigorating Blend on neck and behind the ears. I also let them figure what smells good to them.

Now for the results:

Our 8 yr old increased his math minutes from 10 problems in 1 minute to 30 with in the first week of using oils.  He has shown steady growth through the whole year.

Our 10 yr old  His reading went from an inconsistent 65 wpm to 140 words per minute reading indicator test.

Our 12 yr old is much more emotionally level, not highs and low swings.

RESULTS a more peaceful home. THANK YOU Peaceful Child blend, and other oils that have restored controlled chaos to our home..


Submissions directly to  EverythingEssential.me.  Our thanks to:


Robert - Here is another helpful blend to help active kids focus: Dill 2 drops, Roman Chamomile 2 drops and apply as you would other oils on the bottoms of the feet or on back of neck or ears if they enjoy the aroma.


Submissions directly to  EverythingEssential.me.  Our thanks to:


Carrie -My daughter has been diagnosed with ADD and mild autism.  I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars on natural and conventional remedies to help my daughter function at her best.  She has been in therapy since she was 2.  She is now 10.  Five weeks ago I had a meeting with her school and they felt she should leave her current school for a full time autistic classroom.  Two weeks ago, I got an email from a (...) representative about a story of a little girl and her recovery from a medical issue. It made me think... so I decided to write her and she led me to this website where I found recommendations of certain oils to use for her.  I used Frankincense and Grounding Blend for the next two weeks (I already had these two oils and I am ordering Vetiver and Calming Blend for her anxiety as recommended).
Last week I took her to her neurologist and she noticed a difference in Cassidy since her visit 3 months ago. She said she is more engaged in our conversation and more social.  Two days after this her teacher came to me saying the same thing.  She said she doesn't sit with the teachers anymore on the playground. She is engaging in play with the other kids and she is participating in the classroom also, raising her hand and getting the answers correct.  In these 2 weeks she went up 3 reading levels.  She is in 3rd ... on a 1st ... level.
At Girl Scouts she usually just goes with what is happening or she drifts off on her own after a while.  In her last Girl Scout meeting she was participating and at one point she was actually instructing the class because she had finished first and was confident enough to help others! This has NEVER happened. 
Today we went to a birthday party and she had no anxiety about it. We have missed so many birthday invites because she was too anxious to go.  I could probably give you at least 10 more examples of her progress in 2 short weeks.  This is incredible for our little girl. 
We just got the Vetiver and Calming Blend in today so I am anxious to add these to her regiment also.  She was so excited when they came in and said she would use them also and keep getting better.  I think she notices a change also. 
I am so thankful the Jenn shared a story with her contacts about this other little girl because it helped me see that there might be something here for my little girl also.  If I saw this in 2 weeks, I just can't imagine what is in for her future!
 She has not taken anything internal.  I have put the Frankincense on her feet and the Grounding Blend I put on one of her hands on the fingertips the then on the opposite side at her temple (ex: right fingertips, left temple).

A few weeks later - Well a part to add to the story is that the school came to me again and changed their minds- they now want to keep her in a regular classroom at the same school and NOT put her in an autistic classroom


Riki - I've been putting Blend for Women essential oil blend on my 8 year old son at night and he's out within 30 min! Even at 8:30-9:00! There were nights he was up until 11:00, unable to settle down and sleep. I put a drop on each temple, on his neck, his wrists, and under his nose. I'm very grateful for this discovery as Peaceful Child blend, Focus Blend, Calming Blend, etc. seemed to have no effect on him.

The method I used to choose Blend for Women was recommended by a friend of mine.  She suggested letting him smell each oil until we came across one that he really liked. When he smelled Blend for Women, he said, "ahhhhhhh...." and flopped back on my bed.  I thought, "Oh yes!  That's the effect we want!"  Next experiment, a few drops during the day to help him calm down.


JMoore – A friend needs help with her 6 year old daughter. She has been diagnosed with ADHD and has EXTREME mood swings. The child can't go to sleep at night so she told her mom she wanted to get in trouble every night so that she could "just cry herself to sleep". The mom said that the child wakes up screaming and in terrible moods. Her attention span is almost nonexistent, and she has been placed on several different drugs for her problems. She is even seeing a psychiatrist.  I really want to help this mom; my heart is just breaking for this little girl. I have heard of Vetiver but have never known anyone that has used it, so I was wondering if anyone had. If you have ANY suggestions for helping this child please let me know. I know these oils will work on her if she gives them a chance...I've seen amazing results on my own family! Thanks!

Rob - With her bad mood swings, I would consider a nightly routine of Grounding Blend and Calming Blend.  Three or four drops of each applied with massage to the back of the neck and/or feet prior to bed time.  This would also be a time for a "good talk" or prayer with the child. Also, put her to sleep with the diffuser running with Calming Blend, or another calming oil. If she starts to experience a bad episode of anger or screaming apply a few drops of Calming Blend to the back of her neck and shoulders as you talk through the bad experience.

The hardest part is giving these oils a chance.  Sometimes it takes a few days for their effects to start making a difference. Encourage the mother to have patience.  And remember, just spending quality time with the loving touch might make as big a difference as anything.

Jan - I would agree that Vetiver, Calming Blend and Grounding Blend might be the key oils that would help with this child.  I would think about a drop or two of Calming Blend or Grounding Blend right on the crown of her head if she begins to have a bad experience.  Also, I have found great help with anxiety for myself with a couple drops each of Vetiver, Frankincense and Clary Sage. It might be a mix that is more effective with older women, but you never know when dealing with hormones of even a 6 year old. Rob is right, what might help as much as oils is tender touch and quality time.


JMoore - Do you think she needs a carrier with any of these oils or blends if she uses them on her back? Also, can the blends be put in a roller ball applicator with a single oil like Vetiver to be applied or should she just keep them separate?  I want to make it as simple as possible. Thanks

Carla - None of these oils are hot, but if you are applying to the back, shoulders, feet, etc, having a little carrier might make the application smoother.  Yes, you might even want to pre-make a mix, with an applicator.  Vetiver is very thick and you probably won't get it out of the bottle without literally tapping it on the skin. You could take the dripper out and literally pour it into a new bottle with carrier in it to make it easier to use.  The oils suggested however are perfect.  ADD PRAYER.

Rob – The oils do not need a carrier except to make massage easier.  Vetiver is very thick and the carrier will help its application.

Pat - I remember going to a meeting and they told a story of a little boy who was out of control. The grandfather took Calming Blend and rubbed it on the heart area and the little boy calmed right down.

John - I remember that experience as well.  The grandfather put Calming Blend over the heart and on the crown of the head.

Kathy - I make a spray of pure water and Lavender or Calming Blend and spray my kids pillows and sheets before bedtime.  I have no question that it helps them fall asleep easier and it's antimicrobial also.


Chris - I have a friend whose son has ADHD or ADD.  I've heard that Vetiver is good for that.  Is anyone aware of someone who has had success and, if so, how and what did they use?  Thanks!

Kendra - Emily just told me this.  She said to have the person apply the oil topically on the brainstem (back of the neck) and to have them inhale the aroma also.

Pat - My grandson applies Vetiver to a clay necklace that he wears to school on the inside of his shirt. That way he smells it all day and it helps his concentration.

Rob - Kendra is correct, Vetiver is most efficient used aromatically through the olfactory system (inhalation).

Kendra - But now, let me tell you, if you have a kid with ADD/ADHD, like we have had, they also might have some very strong sensory integration issues, along with the ADD  (and more with ADHD) and it will be like pulling teeth to get them to smell oils or blends.  It is like the slightest odor kind of "wigs  them out".  At that point they are not over-reacting like the majority of people think.  But it is because they are soooooo sensitive to odors.   I know that if you put Geranium on the child before you have them smell another oil, sometimes it won't be so dramatic or traumatic for them

And Chris, I don't know how bad this child suffers with ADD/ADHD so you might just want to share this with her.   I had a doctor tell me once, and I will never forget it, because she validated me sooooo much.

She said parents that have so called "normal" kids that don't suffer from things like ADD, will never be able to understand what it is like, as a parent, dealing with the challenge each and every day.  Not just the heartache that you, as a parent goes thru, but seeing your child struggle with things that everyone else thinks shouldn't be a big deal and wondering why can't that kid just "handle" it.   Then she leaned down really close to me, and said again, "they will never, never understand".

Also can you imagine what it is like for that child, to have to deal with ADD/ADHD, not being able to control the impulsivity that they have.  When a teacher asks the class a question and others raise their hands and "wait" to be picked on to tell the answer, but you're a kid that doesn't even think about raising your hand, because you get so excited because you know the answer and blurt it out.  Then after you blurt it out, all the other kids look at you like "what's wrong with you, just raise your hand".  Then they give you "that look", that so many others have given you before, and you start to know that others are right, something is wrong with you, and you slouch down a little deeper in your chair.  Then you beat yourself up, thinking, “what's wrong with me, why didn't I just raise my hand?  I'm such a loser!”  And the kid beats himself up.

I had one of my sensory kids ask me, when he was about in the 3rd ..., - it was more like sobbing and laying against my chest asking me, "Mom, what's wrong with me, why can't I just be normal?"  I try, I really do, I promise!”

Do you think he yanked my heart out or what!

I know that it is so hard, but I also know that my ADDer’s have the best hearts in the world and would stick up for any underdog.  They are there for anybody that is being belittled, in whatever way.

So you hug those little ones of yours, hug them tight!  Even if they are 6 feet tall.  We all need that validation and that touch that a hug gives!!  And then you hold their head so tight in your hands and make sure there is eye contact, (because sometimes our little ADDer’s have trouble focusing eye to eye!) and squeeze those cheeks and ask them,  "DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU?!!"


Diet and Nutritional complements to essential oils


What Science & Research are saying

Essential Oils and ADD/ADHD

Editor's note: The following research is oft quoted and suggested to be published in the AMA Journal.  We have not be able to verify that it is in an official publication.

In a two year case study (1999-2001), Dr. Terry Friedmann M. D. found significant results when children that had previously been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD were administered therapeutic essential oils by inhalation. The essential oils of Brain Power, Vetiver, Lavender and Cedarwood were used. The oils were administered in this fashion: one oil was administered by inhalation 3 times per day for 30 days. An inhalation device was also used at night to administer a continuous inhalation of oil. The inhalation of the oils proved to settle the children's brain waves back into normal patters and improved their scholastic performance and behavioral patterns. The final results were:

 Lavender increased performance by 53%

 Cedarwood increased performance by 83%

 Vetiver increased performance by 100%.

This study does not appear to have been published in a professional journal but is available from Dr. Friedman's website.


German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) effective in ADHD

Phytomedicine. 2009 Apr;16(4):284-6. Epub 2008 Dec 20.

Observational study: Matricaria chamomilla may improve some symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Niederhofer H., Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Regional Hospital Bozen, Via Guncina 54/A, 39100 Bolzano



Noradrenaline and serotonin reuptake inhibitors have been proven to be effective in some cases of ADHD. In this open trial, Matricaria chamomilla, a serotonin and noradrealine reuptake inhibitor, actually used as an antidepressant, has been checked for this indication.


Three 14-16-year-old male psychiatric outpatients, diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder (ADHD) have been rated at baseline and while taking Matricaria chamomilla to determine its efficacy as a treatment for ADHD. Improvement was valuated using comparisons of Conners' parent ratings.


Patients' mean scores improved for Conners' hyperactivity, inattention and immaturity factors.


Although the sample size is very small and therefore generalization is very difficult, this observation indicates that Matricaria chamomilla might be a slightly effective treatment also for ADHD.


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NOTE: The advice shared in this site has not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and methods recommended are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease, nor is it intended to replace proper medical help. As members offer or look for answers, kindly understand that essential oils work to help to bring the body into balance - thus helping the body's natural defenses to restore homeostasis. Essential oils are not used to "treat" medical problems.