Myth No. 11 - Diffusing anti-microbial essential oils will protect our kids from getting sick.
Many people believe in aromatherapy beyond the pleasant feelings from the scents of the essential oils they inhale. And they certainly have valid grounds as there are numerous evidence-based research papers* published around the therapeutic benefits of essential oils. It’s also a natural option to medications that sometimes present dangerous side effects. So when flu season comes around or when other contagious diseases are wreaking havoc, some parents would grab the most powerful anti-microbial essential oils they could find, run their diffusers all day and night, and rub essential oil rollers all over their kids, with the best intention to keep them from getting sick.
As we’ve previously discussed, essential oils are not without their risks. It’s important to recognize that the most potent anti-microbial essential oils (e.g., cinnamon bark, oregano, thyme thymol, clove, lemongrass) are also most damaging to our skin cells (Tisserand & Young 2014) and may cause overstimulation or irritation when inhaled. To children with developing immunity and respiratory systems, these oils should be properly diluted (or aired out in terms of diffusion) in order to avoid negative impacts to their development.
So what are parents to do instead? Here are a couple of safer, gentler methods:
- Start with the gentler essential oils that still present similar therapeutic benefits and efficacy against microbes, such as palmarosa, rosemary, marjoram, lavender, tea tree, bergamot, and lemon.
- Always dilute essential oils before topical application - refer to Myth No. 1 for some general guidelines. For children under the age of 2, best avoid exposure to potent essential oils altogether.
- Use the powerful anti-microbial essential oils for home sanitization purposes and ensure the space is appropriately aired out before introducing family members back inside.
*Below are a few sources amongst many to browse these research papers: