One of the questions I get asked most frequently is about preventative use of essential oils for immune support. My response is always the same. You don't use aromatherapy unless you need aromatherapy, anymore than you would use a cancer drug if you didn't have cancer.
When you're living with a trauma survivor this is especially true because chances are their physiological system is already over stimulated from stress as mentioned in my previous post. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk is the authority on the biological aspects of trauma on the body and his most recent book The Body Keeps The Score is an absolute must read for anyone living with trauma (personally or a loved ones).
Aromatherapy is an effective support that due to it's adaptability can be used anytime anywhere to assist a trauma survivor in maintaining their equilibrium. Let's look at all the ways aromatherapy can be adapted to use for the individual throughout the day. The benefits of aromatherapy support on the limbic system are different for each person’s biochemistry but most average a benefit between 2.5 to 3 hours. Following a clinical aromatherapy program to support the limbic system allows the limbic system to lay down new neuro-pathways from a place of peace.
As I stated before I never want my children to feel like I'm trying to "fix them" or they're not "good enough" so sometimes I take an indirect route. If I've heard my child tossing and turning the night before, I like to use a cool mist diffuser in the mornings to get the day off to a good start. I have multiple cool mist diffusers in the house. One on the kitchen table that is easily moved around the kitchen as needed (if someone becomes grumpy when it's their turn to do dishes). I also have multiple cool mist diffusers spread out around the rest of the house, each with a nearby canning jar of filtered water so they can be easily loaded as needed.
I also use diffusers in the car. I have two different car diffusers. One is a cool mist diffuser and the other a neat oil diffuser. I use the cool mist diffuser when I have the kids with me. I use the neat oil diffuser with a blend I developed to minimize my risk of seizures when I'm in the car alone.
Before heading off to school some of my clients use customized aromatherapy blends in butters for a more sustained release of the therapeutic benefits. Each of these blends is specially prepared for each client to address their needs throughout the school day. Some of my clients have sensory issues to butters and use a customized massage oil blend before school or a roll-on.
While at school there are many options for aromatherapy support throughout the day. I have some clients that use aromatherapy inhalers. Schools seem to really like this option because there's no excess oil for them to be concerned with. Some children like it because they're the only ones that smell it. Since it's not applied topically they don't stand out amongst their peers. The effect is more immediate when used properly which makes it a favorite of teachers. It's generally more easily managed with children of upper elementary grades.
However, not everyone is comfortable putting something "up his or her nose". I have two clients that prefer smelling salts. They work on the same premise of aromatherapy inhalers except I mix their blend into salts and they keep them in a glass vial rather using a cotton wick in a plastic inhaler.
When my own child was younger and we first started using aromatherapy at school. We used aromatherapy roll-ons with a signed medication permission form from our physician and a schedule of every 3 hours during the class day. We kept the roll-ons on the teacher’s desk and a post-it note schedule on my child's desk. The schedule helped my child feel in control. The location of keeping the oils on the teacher's desk kept the kids and the oils safe.
After school having a good protein dense snack at the kitchen table while the diffuser is running takes about 10-15 minutes. This is a good time to stabilize blood sugar with good nutrition and stabilize the amygdala with some brief gentle aromatherapy support.
For caretaker self-care I will use aromatherapy in the bath in the form of properly diluted bath salts no more than once a week. When working with children I'm not one to use aromatherapy in the bath. Again this is out of concern for their already overly taxed physiology. Skin is the largest organ of the body and they do not need to essentially marinade in essential oils at such a young age. If there were a place to safely plug in a diffuser in the bathroom I would run a diffuser while giving them a bath with plain unscented Epsom salts. Likewise I would caution against using scented bath products on them. The only aromatherapy products in the bath I would use with children would be hydrosols aka hydrolats.
At bedtime I'm not a big fan of running the diffuser with essential oils in it while a child sleeps, even on an intermittent setting. I like hydrosols for diffusing at night because they're so gentle and muted. I have clients that use hydrosols in a sleep mist. They mist their child's pillow, pajama's, or comfort item.
Some of my clients use a sleep cream or butter again for that sustained benefit mentioned before. The bottom line is one should only use essential oils for specific concerns and then use the specific oil(s) that can support that concern. You wouldn't take insulin if you weren't diabetic. Men wouldn't take pre-natal vitamins as they're not designed for male use, they're designed for women who are pregnant.
© 2017 Cynthia Tamlyn-CCA
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