Essential oils are very popular. They are spread, inhaled, rubbed, dabbed, and even ingested. They are generally touted as “natural” and “safe”. Many in the wellness industry trust them to treat a variety of problems, from insomnia to anxiety to aspects of autism. But like all things in the under-regulated and oversold wellness industry, there are side effects and risks. Are Essential Oils Safe for a Child, Baby, or Even a Teenager?
When it comes to children, caution is key.
In fact, there is evidence that essential oils (now found in everything from hand soaps to everyday cleaning products) can even act as hormone disruptors. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine focused on three boys who were exposed to all topical products containing lavender and tea tree oil. All boys had developed prepubertal gynecomastia (male breast development). Subsequent laboratory tests showed that the two oils “… had estrogenic and anti-androgenic activities. We conclude that repeated topical exposure to lavender and tea tree oils likely caused prepubertal gynecomastia in these boys, ”explained the NEJM.
Fortunately, this rarity was reversible by simply stopping the use of the oils.
There are other risks
Photo: Shutterstock **
A recent article on essential oils and children published in the New York Times identified cases of bronchial irritation from oil diffusers, which are widely used as relaxants in kindergartens. A Netflix documentary, (Un) Well, had an episode about essential oils with a chiropractor who used them for everything from cooking to topical application to inhaling for his kids, almost around the clock.
Dr. David Stukus, associate professor of pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, told the New York Times that the tiny particles in the oils “do really well in the upper and lower respiratory tract, which can be particularly irritating in people with chronic conditions.” Underlying illnesses such as asthma or allergies. “
The assumption that these oils, if they are natural, must be good for you is highly suspect, according to pediatrician Michael Grosso MD.
“The use of essential oils as medicine is extremely complex,” says Dr. Grosso versus Parentology. “There are around 2,000 different compounds from plants that are essential oils, although only around 100 of them are common. They can be inhaled, applied to the skin, or even taken orally. ”
While the hospital where Dr. Grosso works, occasionally uses essential oils in the pediatric department as “anti-anxiety intervention at the time of surgery”, he points out that they are very strictly controlled and administered.
How to use for children at home? Not as much.
“I can’t say I have ever suggested that a parent try an essential oil as a medicine. When asked, I want to know what it is, what the parents want to use it for and how it is used, ”says Grosso.
For example, the intake depends very much on the plant from which the oil comes.
“As is so often the case, it depends on which and in which dose whether it is safe to ingest an essential oil. Many of us have had the opportunity to enjoy lavender ice cream. On the other hand, accidental ingestion of wintergreen oil is a known cause of fatal poisoning in children. As with wild mushrooms, it is really important to know what you are doing before ingesting anything from nature, even something that is touted as “healthy”, ”explains Grosso.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics urges parents to keep essential oils away from children. And for good reason: Poison centers in the United States received more than 17,000 calls about children under the age of 5 who were exposed to essential oils in 2018.
However, DoTerra, one of the largest essential oil companies, is promoting its widespread use. They recommend cooking (that is, ingesting) with them, bathing in them with bath bombs, and putting them on places like the soles of your feet. There is a list of “workarounds” for different scenarios. None of this has been approved by the FDA and there is no real research.
Essential oils are big business
The two largest essential oil companies, doTerra and Young Living, have annual sales of over $ 1 billion through their tiered marketing structure. Young Living was even sued on allegations that it was a pyramid scheme. Both rely on individuals to sell oils online through influence.
“There are influencers at home who sell promises that are not tied to strict medical standards via Instagram profiles and Facebook groups. Young Living and doTerra, meanwhile, are circumventing the Food and Drug Administration’s rules for medical claims by reverting to the hazy language of wellness culture: “vitality,” “energy,” “healing,” “balance,” “The Guardian recently wrote Items.
What is Safe Use?
If you need to use essential oils in your children, Johns Hopkins offers some guidelines for safe or safe use.
- Do not use undiluted oils directly on the skin. Oils in their full form can be harmful if applied directly to the skin. Safe dilutions for children are generally between 0.5 and 2.5%, depending on the condition and the age / weight of the child. Oils can be added to carrier oils, distilled water, and lotions.
- Do not add undiluted oils to the bath water. Since oil and water do not mix, the concentrated form can irritate the skin.
- Do not swallow oils. Essential oils are highly concentrated oils that can be toxic if swallowed.
- Do not use excessive oils. Remember how often and how much you use on your child. For example, don’t use lotion that contains lavender and then apply an essential oil.
- Do not use peppermint oil on children under 30 months. Peppermint in children under 30 months of age can increase the risk of seizures.
Another thing to note is that like adults, children have preferences. It doesn’t matter how useful a particular oil might be to you if your child can’t stand the smell.
Finally, it should be noted that while essential oils are natural, they are still made up of chemicals and can cause reactions.
“This is a really important topic,” says Dr. Grosso Parentology. “It’s not that chemicals are good or bad for you. It’s all chemicals. The fever reducer paracetamol is a chemical, but also tea tree oil. You can look up the chemical formula. The fact that you say you came from nature may lead some people to believe that it can’t harm you. To a large extent, however, the opposite is true. Knowing that the dose is important, it is good to know that with paracetamol, to use this example again, you can be sure of how much your child is receiving. This is often not the case with essential oils. “
** **.Publisher’s Note: This picture shows a male child holding doTerra essential oils from the company’s children’s collection. This is an archive image from Shutterstock. Parentology has not tested this essential oil to determine if it would be harmful or helpful to your child.
Are Essential Oils Safe For A Child? – Swell
New England Journal of Medicine
New York Times