Essential Oils For ADHD

Can Essential Oils Treat ADHD Symptoms?

woman using essential oils

Sergey Mironov / Getty Images

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that usually onsets during childhood and persists throughout adulthood. The most common symptoms of ADHD are impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity.

There are multiple treatment interventions that help manage these symptoms in both children and adults, such as medication, psychotherapies, behavioral therapies, healthy lifestyle habits, and complementary alternative medicine (CAM).

CAM therapies are a more holistic treatment approach that focuses on the connection between the mind and body. A specific CAM therapy that is a simple yet effective intervention is the use of essential oils

Benefits of Essential Oils

Essential oils have been shown to offer various benefits. Using essential oils may uplift your mood, lessen anxiety, relax the mind, boost productivity, reduce sinus or allergy symptoms, and much more.

What Are Essential Oils?

According to Hanif and colleagues “essential oils (EO) are highly concentrated materials extracted from leaves, stems, flowers, seeds, roots, fruit rinds, resins, or barks.” They are often diluted and implemented into cosmetics for the hair or skin, as well as foods and beverages. 

A very popular way to experience both the aroma and benefits of essential oils is through the sense of smell. The best way to do this is by diffusing the oil using a diffuser, which will fill the room with the oil’s aroma.

Another option is to inhale the oil directly or dilute the oil and place it on certain areas of the skin, like the wrist, to smell. Every essential oil offers different benefits, and some share similar effects.

Essential Oil's Impact on ADHD

Recently, ADHD research has explored the impact essential oils have as a complementary intervention for managing ADHD symptoms. Experts have discovered the potential benefits essential oils may have on neurological disorders.

While there is no definitive evidence that essential oils improve ADHD symptoms across the board, some oils can help promote calmness, strengthen focus, and positively influence mood—which can potentially benefit people with ADHD.

Essential Oils Used to Treat ADHD Symptoms

There are different types of essential oils, each type has similar effects, it’s about finding which works best for you.

Floral Aroma

Floral scents promote relaxation, tranquility, and calmness. These oils can have a positive effect on hyperactivity, impulsivity, and restlessness.

The following are floral scented oils:

  • Lavender
  • Vetiver 
  • Ylang-ylang 
  • Valerian 
  • Rose
  • Chaste tree 

Citrus Aroma

Citrus essential oils help boost energy and mood, reduce stress, and aid in digestion. These can help with possible comorbid symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The following are citrus scented oils:

  • Bergamot 
  • Sweet Orange
  • Mandarine

Camphoraceous Aroma

Camphor is a substance that derives from tree bark that has medicinal properties and a menthol scent. They are immune-boosting, aid in respiratory functioning, and reduce allergies and congestion while relieving stress.

The following are camphoraceous scented oils:

  • Eucalyptus 
  • Peppermint

Herbaceous, Woody, Earthy, & Spicy Aromas

There are other aromas that benefit those with ADHD, like herbaceous (herbal), woody, earthy, and spicy scents. Usually, these types of oils assist with clarity, memory, digestion, headaches, and boosting immunity. They may also help with anxiety, depression, and sleep.

These essential oils include the following:

Herbaceous

  • Rosemary 
  • Clarity Sage
  • Chamomile 
  • Geranium

Woody

  • Frankincense 
  • Cedarwood
  • Sandalwood

Spicy

  • Nutmeg 

Earthy

  • Patchouli

Buying Essential Oils

If you or your child have been diagnosed with ADHD and are exploring holistic options to add to your daily schedule to help with symptoms consider some of the above essential oils.

They are easy to purchase online or in health food stores or vitamin shops. Essential oils are also inexpensive and usually do not present side effects or allergic reactions.

Make sure the oils that you decide to use do not derive from a plant you or anyone else are allergic to. Also, view any additional ingredients to ensure you won't have an allergic reaction.

Take into consideration the concentration and potency of the oil when making contact with the skin, also dilute the oil before putting it on the skin. Make sure the oil is from a reliable source that produces pure and high quality products.

Consider running the idea of using essential oils with your physician to make sure it will not interfere with any possible ADHD treatment that is currently being implemented.

A Word From Verywell

If you've decided to try out essential oils to treat ADHD symptoms, keep in mind that every person is different; some oils that may benefit others just may not be best for you. You may have to try out a few different oils to see which works best for you. Additionally, you may find that essential oils do not alleviate any of your ADHD symptoms and that's OK, too—this CAM therapy just may not be for you. A mental health professional who specializes in ADHD treatment will be able to help you look at other treatment options.

Was this page helpful?
7 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Lange KW. Reichl S. Lange KM. et al. The history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. ADHD Atten Def Hyp Disord. 2010;241–255. doi:10.1007/s12402-010-0045-8

  2. Yang KH, Lane HY, Chang YC, Tzang RF. Exploring the effects of pharmacological, psychosocial, and alternative/complementary interventions in children and adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Meta-regression approach. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. 2021;24(10):776-786. doi:10.1093/ijnp/pyab034

  3. Aćimović, M. Essential Oils: Inhalation Aromatherapy–A Comprehensive Review. Journal of Agronomy, Technology and Engineering Management. 2021;4(2):547-557.

  4. Hanif MA. Nisar S. Khan GS. Mushtaq Z. Zubair M. Essential Oils. 2019;3-17. Essential Oil Research. Springer, Cham. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-16546-8_1

  5. Ayaz M, Sadiq A, Junaid M, Ullah F, Subhan F, Ahmed J. Neuroprotective and Anti-Aging Potentials of Essential Oils from Aromatic and Medicinal Plants. Front Aging Neurosci. 2017;9:168. doi:10.3389/fnagi.2017.00168

  6. Reynolds SS, Hodges E, Tang J, Dahnke D, Thomesen EM. Impact of Citrus Essential Oil Diffusion on Health Care Staff's Stress Levels: An Evidence-Based Practice Project. Holist Nurs Pract. 2021;35(2):65-70. doi:10.1097/HNP.0000000000000433

  7. Orchard A, van Vuuren S. Commercial essential oils as potential antimicrobials to treat skin diseasesEvid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:4517971. doi:10.1155/2017/4517971