When our children are sick, they often need soothing rather than medication and there are many modalities we can choose from for this, including aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy is a gentle practice that uses essential oils for physical and psychological healing. Essential oils are highly aromatic, concentrated oils that are distilled by steam or water from leaves, needles, stems, flowers, bark, roots, or other highly aromatic plant parts.
Here are some aromatherapy suggestions for the family, but be careful with young ones. Don’t use essential oils with babies younger than three months and be cautious using them with young children. Eucalyptus may be too strong for children under 10: sage and rosemary should not be used with children under 6.
Make an aromatherapy ear rub with several drops of lavender oil, and chamomile oil in one ounce of olive oil. Rub the oil mixture around the outside the ear and over the lymph nodes on the side of the neck, or dab a cotton ball in the oil, gently place it in the ear, and leave it in until the discomfort is relieved, replacing it with a fresh cotton ball several times a day.
SUNBURN RELIEF, STINGS AND BURNS
Lavender oil is antibacterial and antiviral. It provides immediate relief for sunburn or the sting or itch of insect bites, and also helps in healing burns. Use lavender oil undiluted on the skin, or put a few drops in a lukewarm tub.
FLU AND COLD MASSAGE
A warm massage is very comforting to a child who is sick with the flu or a chest cold. To one ounce of grapeseed or almond oil, add a few drops of lavender, and chamomile essential oils. Gently massage the chest, rubbing from the middle of the chest out toward the armpit to help loosen mucus. In addition to relieving discomfort, these oils have anti-infectious properties.
Fennel and chamomile oils are soothing to an upset stomach. Put a few drops in water to take when tummy-aches strike (add a few drops clove, caraway, or anise oil for a pleasing taste). Or, add a few drops of chamomile and fennel essential oils to an ounce of almond or grapeseed oil and massage your child’s tummy with some of this oil mix.
Lemon, lavender, thyme, and pine are all scents that are soothing for fevers and contain immune-boosting properties. Give your child a bath with a few drops of any or all of these oils, or put them in an aromatherapy diffuser in your child’s room. A cloth soaked in cool water with a drop or two of lavender oil added is soothing on the forehead of a sick person.
For respiratory infections, add a bundle of the aromatic herbs such as thyme and rosemary to steaming water, and have your child lean over the steam, with a towel covering her head, to breathe in the inhalation. This inhalation will loosen mucus and fight infection.
Peggy O’Mara is the editor and publisher of peggyomara.com. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine from 1980 to 2011 and founded Mothering.com in 1995. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four and grandmother of three.