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So, it’s back to school time for us. Often this is the time the first wave of sickness comes through. Summer was filled with sunshine and lots of natural and immune-boosting vitamin D, not to mention the lack of time spent in close quarters with flocks of children. So, as a mom to three kiddos, I can’t afford illness right now – or ever (but it happens). However, I do my best to keep the immune systems healthy in our house. I have a few standard practices such as a good probiotic, lots of fresh fruits and veggies, meals with whole foods (raw garlic if possible!), plenty of sleep, knowing when to scale back activities, lots of fresh water and minimal sugar. I do have a trick or so up my sleeve and it has to do with essential oils.
I used to use a blend for immunity and germ-fighting power that included the essential oils of oregano, clove and thyme (which are great for adults) , but then a good friend mentioned how she read they might be a little strong for little ones. She sent me some information, and I pulled out my books, and low and behold, there are some concerns with the organs of young children being able to process (even from topical and diffuser applications), because of the potency of these oils.
There are (what seems like) thousands of oil recommendations all over the board. Some restrict one oil, whereas others use it without abandon. It is hard to sift through all the information. Additionally, there are some great, reputable, in-depth articles that list recipes for blends with a variety of oils. One day, I will get to those, as the amount of information and resources to post is immense. Even this one was meant to be short and sweet, and it just keeps getting longer! For now, my point is to stick to a simple mix that I can easily put together, that I know are safe and get the job done.
After some trials and error (more of opinion than in practice) and much research, I have a blend that is effective and safe for the kids. As with anything, what works for one person, may not work for another. Additionally, everyone’s skin and tolerances are different. While I feel this is safe, and I feel confident posting this recipe for children, please be aware of your own child’s sensitivities and allergies. It is often a good idea to test a small amount on a small patch of skin before liberally applying. Have I covered the disclaimers enough??
Personally, I prefer to error on the side of caution. There are many companies that are very liberal with recommendations for essential oil usage, and that make me a bit weary. I would be skeptical of any company or brand that recommends using any and all oils for children, but just at a higher dilution rate. Although, it might be safe, I don’t want my kids to be the guinea pigs.
Many “hot” oils are not safe for children, and I wouldn’t put any oil on a newborn. Additionally, peppermint and eucalyptus are two oils with menthol as a main component, which (although rare) can slow breathing in young children. You may find opposing views on a variety of oils, so I have used the ones with which I am most comfortable. Again, everyone has their own preferences; these are just within my comfort zone.
A few things to remember while working with essential oils on your own:
Never use oils “neat” (without dilution) - so always use a carrier oil (almond, olive, coconut, grapeseed, etc.)
Some oils (especially citrus oils) are photosensitive, meaning they can irritate or damage the skin if exposed to sunlight
If too much oil is applied, remove with extra carrier oil (not water, as it will only make the oil spread)
Dilution is very important for children, as the dilution rate is higher as the child is younger
Never take oils internally
Keep oils out of reach of children; treat them like you would your medicine cabinet
Know your oil supplier – There are so many manufacturers, and for the most part, you get what you pay for. Fillers can be added, oils may be diluted and purity compromised. Try to look for therapeutic grade oils and just as with any product, call the company and ask questions!
I like to put the essential oil (diluted in a carrier oil) in a roller and put on the bottoms of the feet of my kiddos, and then put on socks to keep the oil contained. As with everything, it seems there is some controversy as to whether the bottoms of the feet provide the best absorption. For now, I belief this works best for me and my family (and it keeps the little hands away from the oils).
Immune Boosting Recipe (per 10ml roll-on bottle)
Essential Oils (6 months-2 years old) – 1 drop Lavender, 1 drop Fir Needle
Essential Oils (2-5 years of age) – 1 drop Lavender, 2 drops Fir Needle
Essential Oils (Over 6 years of age) – 1 drop Lavender, 3 drops Fir Needle
Essential Oils (Over 10 years of age) – 1 drop Lavender, 3 drops Fir Needle, 1 drop Rosemary**
Directions: Add appropriate drop(s) of essential oil to a 10 ml roll on bottle, filling the rest with a carrier oil (we use liquid coconut oil, grapeseed oil, or almond oil). Place roller top and cap back on bottle and shake well. I always find it helpful to label the bottle.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)* – immunity boosting, moodiness, irritability, flu, eliminates waste through the lymphatic system
Fir Needle (Abies alba)* – immune stimulating, antiseptic, colds, flu, respiratory, coughs, chills, sinusitis, chronic bronchitis
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – preventative for respiratory infections, sinusitis, bronchitis, chills, colds, flus, especially staph and strep infections
*These lists are not comprehensive by any means, but I just included the ones that are most related to the purpose of immunity
**Because of the strength of Rosemary, it is not recommended in children under 10. However, it is extremely potent against everything from the flu to lice!
Roll on bottles can be purchased through Amazon, (about $1-2 each in bulk), or most other essential oil carriers.
****At the time of this post, I was in communication with Native American Nutritionals regarding the discontinuation of Fir Needle in their inventory due to low purchase volume. Such a disappointment, yet there are other great companies from which one can purchase quality oils. As always, opinions can change, but I have heard very positive things about Mountain Rose Herbs, DoTERRA, and Young Living.****
Worwood, Valerie. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. New World Library: Novato, California. 1991.
Native American Nutritionals (Now: Rocky Mountain Oils). http://www.nativeamericannutritionals.com/fir-needle.htm
*Update August 2016: Native American Nutritionals has now become Rocky Mountain Oils.