Connected parenting can be a roller coaster ride on a good day. Children with developmental trauma have a complex neurological highway with which to process day to day stimuli due to the changes trauma creates in the brain. This can cause them to be 'all over the map' from moment to moment. Subsequently, it's not uncommon for children who have been touched by trauma to receive a diagnosis of ADHD, anxiety, etc. from their medical provider as their caregivers seek help.
A couple of my readers recently asked about using coffee essential oil for anxiety/ADHD behaviors. There are some folks that use the caffeine in coffee or high caffeine soda to slow the neurological process in such a way as to have a calming affect. My readers questioned whether or not there was caffeine in the essential oil and if there was, could they get the benefit from applying it topically rather than ingesting it. The short answers, yes and maybe. We just don't know yet.
I spent the last week looking for data on coffee essential oil. I can only assume this is a relatively new to market oil as there is very little data to be found on coffee essential oil (steam distilled or CO-2 extracted). I found no information in any of the roughly four-dozen aromatherapy reference books I have. I asked the few companies I could find that sell it for GC/MS reports so I could analyze the data for myself. Plant Therapy stated the product is too viscous for testing. Marge at Nature's Gift told me she didn't have a report for it but she did have a report for the cocoa CO-2 extract that may be helpful due to their similarities. SunRose Aromatics had lost their report and is emailing their supplier to get a replacement. I'm still waiting on them to get me a copy of their GC/MS report, if and when they get that from their supplier, and get it to me I'll update this post. They're dealing with that insane amount of snow beating down the north east coast.
From private communication with Marge Clark at Nature's Gift the certificate of analysis for the cocoa CO-2 shows there is "Coffein" in the extract. Marge advised if someone needs to avoid caffeine, they should avoid both the coffee and cocoa CO-2 extract because the caffeine will come through the extraction process. The "coffein" in the coffee extract is expected to be higher than that in the cocoa extract which is coming in at 4.7% according to the certificate of analysis posted for the cocoa CO-2 extract on the Nature's Gift website.
In the interim, since the CO-2 extraction of the oil is not expensive I ordered some to work with and do some hands on research myself. Like all sciences, aromatherapy is alive and the knowledge continues to grow as new oils are distilled or extracted. The data will not be available until many people use the oil and publish their results. I'm going to feed my inner nerd. I have two children with very different focus issues so I'll see how each of them responds to this oil. They both like the smell of coffee as well, we're Seattle folks so that's no big surprise there. I also have my own epilepsy induced focus issues so my first three test subjects are lined up.
If anyone would like to support the growth of aromatherapy science and participate in a controlled scientific experiment using coffee Co-2 extract please let me know. I'm thinking it might be good in a lip balm mixed with a vanilla and/or cocoa Co-2 or maybe an inhaler. I am seeking additional case study test subjects if you'd like to join us, please see the directions at the end of this post.
Now in the interest of full disclosure, I do have some reservations with the use of coffee essential oil for trauma, based on the discussions with my fellow certified and clinical aromatherapists. The oil is described as having a very strong, pronounced, and overwhelming scent. Most of the clients I work with dealing with trauma anxiety are sensory sensitive so I don't use strong scents with them. For this reason, I believe coffee could be contra-indicated in a true trauma anxiety case.
If the ADHD behaviors are being driven by trauma anxiety then I think the coffee essential oil would not only have the potential to make the behaviors worse, but also the potential for the child to be re-traumatized if they have a traumatic memory that is subconsciously tied into the scent of coffee. If you brew coffee in your home regularly and the child does not react you're probably fine. However, if you never brew coffee and you notice when you're in the store with your child they have a shift in behavior while they're in the coffee aisle you may want to think twice.
Within my aromatherapist community those who have used coffee are using the CO-2 extract and only two members weighed in. One is using it with the elderly who have dementia and the other is using it in their shampoo to promote hair growth.
Are you confused yet? If so, I apologize. It wasn't my intent. I tried to make this as easy to understand as possible. That's a lot more challenging when we don't have clear science to back things up.
Trauma anxiety or ADHD, I'm certainly not qualified to differentiate the diagnosis, but both certainly can present challenges to connection. I know there are cases it can even be trauma and ADHD, as is the case with my hearing impaired son. His ADHD is related to his hearing loss. Supporting the challenges of trauma and/or ADHD can support building healthy long-term connections and subsequently healthy long-term relationships. This is why my son has a blend for his trauma anxiety and a separate blend for his attention challenges.
However, if the ADHD is not rooted in the trauma, if the ADHD stands alone as a separate diagnoses, or if it's related to something not trauma related, like my son's hearing loss, then I could see the coffee essential oil having a potentially strong benefit.
If you'd like to participate in this scientific study please send an email to OilisticallyOutsideTheBox at gmail dot com by April 1st. Please use the subject "Coffee".
©2017 Cynthia Tamlyn-CCA
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