Care must be taken in treating children with essential oils, although there are any number of safe ones. Use one-third to one-half the adult dose, or a 1-percent dilution (five or six drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil), and don’t forget that citruses may irritate the skin. See “Guidelines” chapter.
Chamomile, melissa and fennel used as massage oil, or taken as herb tea, soothe a variety of tummy-aches-and the problems that can lead to stomachaches, such as frayed nerves, anxiety and over excitability. Colic, gas pains, nausea and food allergies are also good candidates for these remedies. A study from Israel found that a chamomile, fennel and melissa herb tea with licorice helps stop crying and fussing in infants with colic. Researchers think that essential oils relieve muscle spasms caused when babies swallow air as they eat. Nineteenth-century parents gave colicky babies a “gripe water” of dill, fennel or anise, and East Indian and Lebanese mothers still use dill to ease colic. A European carminative water contains fennel, chamomile, caraway, coriander and bitter orange peel, all known to kill bacteria and relieve flatulence.
Most digestive woes are helped by a simple tummy massage.
2 drops Roman chamomile
1 drop fennel
2 drops dill
1 drop melissa
1 ounce carrier oil
Mix together and massage the tummy gently.
A relaxing treatment for children before bedtime is a warm lavender and chamomile essential-oil bath. Most children love taking aromatherapy baths, particularly if they have their own personal blends, and may want to get involved in choosing and blending scents. Popular fragrances include orange, grapefruit and tangerine-all antidepressants and relaxants. (See the Baths section of the “Aromatherapy Body Care” chapter for proper dilution guidelines for kids.) Nature’s gentle relaxant teas such as melissa, lavender and chamomile can calm a nervous, overstimulated, cranky child, make headaches go away, or gently induce sleep-as well as help soothe a worn-out parent!
A child suffering from a headache, sleeplessness or overexertion will find relief in a cool compress of lavender placed on the forehead. Frankincense used in a vaporizer or as a massage oil is safe and effective for respiratory congestion or infection, even for infants. Other safe essential oils for children include mandarine, marjoram, neroli, jasmine and petitgrain. Treat a fever, measles, chicken pox or mumps with a tea of yarrow, catnip, peppermint and elder flower; ginger with a touch of lemon juice is also effective. The soreness of mumps is relieved by syrups and gargles made from teas of thyme, rosemary or sage. Antiviral oils of melissa and bergamot have proven effective against the mumps and chicken-pox viruses. (If you use melissa, be sure it is the real thing and not citronella or lemongrass; these don’t have the same healing properties.) Use these essential oils in a steam or make a tea from the herbs.
For teething pain, give chamomile tea and rub the gums with a little diluted clove oil on your finger.
The following formula may be used for swollen tonsils, mumps and other lymphatic swelling in the neck area:
2 cups warm water
8 drops lavender essential oil
Mix the water with the essential oil. While the water is still warm, soak a soft cloth, preferably flannel, in the water and wring it out. Wrap the cloth around the neck. Cover with a towel to hold in the heat. Remove before it gets cold. Repeat as many times as you wish.
European children were once given “dilly pillows” filled with aromatic herbs such as lavender and dill to send them off to dreamland. The scent was also considered a digestive. Add chamomile and thyme to prevent nightmares.
1 cup total:
Fold a 5″ x10″ piece of cloth in half and sew up the edges, leaving just enough room to stuff the herbs inside. Combine the herbs in equal parts to make 1 cup. Stuff the herbs into the material, then finish sewing it up. Place beside or under the child’s regular pillow.