Essential Oils for Focus
Essential oils are natural products which are gaining popularity with the public in recent years. An essential oil is a volatile oil in highly concentrated form which can have positive effects on the body. Essential oils may be used to enhance an individual’s physical, psychological and emotional well-being.2
Increasingly, essential oils are being used to influence mental states and promote focus or boost mental alertness. While the interest in essential oils is fairly recent in North America, they have been used for thousands of years in different cultures.3
As volatile oils with powerful aromas and beneficial effects, researchers are beginning to uncover the connection between essential oils and improving concentration. While research is preliminary, the most effective essential oils for mental focus include basil, frankincense, patchouli, rosemary, sage and ylang ylang. Through inhalation or topical application of an essential oil, focus, memory or concentration may be enhanced.
Basil Essential Oil
Basil essential oil’s properties may relieve mental exhaustion and improve concentration. In a 2012 clinical trial, researchers investigated a blend of basil, helichrysum and peppermint essential oils to help focus. Participants were instructed to inhale the blend for three weeks. Results indicate a 21% improvement in mental alertness.
To use basil essential oil for focus, add 2-4 drops to a diffuser filled with water. Let the uplifting aroma fill the room when studying or working.
Patchouli Essential Oil
One benefit of patchouli essential oil is that is has a natural stress-relieving effect. Inhaling patchouli essential oil was shown to decrease relative sympathetic activity by 40% in a 2002 study. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for heart rate, blood pressure and controlling the ‘fight or flight’ response. Regulating these factors during stressful situations may help increase focus and concentration.
Use patchouli essential oils for focus and memory at home via diffusion or therapeutic massage. To apply topically, mix 5 drops of patchouli essential oil with 1 Tbsp. of carrier oil, such as grapeseed or coconut. Apply the mixture to the temples of the head, gently massaging the mixture.
Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an evergreen herb that came originally from Africa and the Mediterranean Sea. Studies have shown that when used in aromatherapy, rosemary essential oil’s benefits include improving mental alertness and cognition. According to natural healers, rosemary essential oil may also temporarily improve memory recall and can also be combined with other essential oils for alertness, such as basil or lemon essential oil.
Sage Essential Oil
According to a 2005 study, sage essential oil may enhance memory and cognition. 24 participants received single doses of sage essential oil or a placebo in specially designed capsules. Users reported feeling more alert, calmer and noted an overall improvement in mood.4
In a separate clinical trial, sage essential oil was shown to provide cognitive support and improve mental alertness when inhaled. Researchers suggested that a specific compound in the essential oil should be further studied for its protective effects against conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Note: Essential oils should not be ingested unless under the direct supervision of a health care professional.
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
For individuals who get stressed after focusing for long periods of time, ylang ylang may be the essential oil to turn to. The benefits of ylang ylang essential oil include promoting relaxation and reducing cortisol levels.
When cortisol levels increase, users may have impaired focus, memory or concentration. Similarly, stressed individuals may have a difficult time concentrating or completely simple tasks. Inhalation of ylang ylang essential oil was observed to help users feel calmer and more relaxed in a 2006 study.
Essential Oils for ADHD
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a brain disorder which may impair the ability to pay attention and may be marked by hyperactivity, impulsivity or inattention to such a degree that development or everyday tasks may be hindered.1
Symptoms may include a tendency to be highly distractible, to miss details, inability to focus or lack of ability to follow-through on day to day tasks. People with ADHD may find it difficult to be organized or sit still.1
Traditionally, treatments have included medication and psychotherapy. Prescription medications may be used to help decrease impulsivity and hyperactivity, and increase the ability to focus on one task. Prescription medications can carry a number of risks and side effects that may make them undesirable.1
As the number of children and adults with ADHD continues to rise, new natural and alternative methods to treat ADHD are increasingly in-demand. With natural calming properties, using essential oils for ADHD may help temporary relax individuals and help them concentrate.
For those wondering which essential oil is good for ADHD, there are several that have been studied for their effects on the nervous system. While researchers are still studying the connection between essential oils and ADHD, the following are considered the top essential oils for ADHD. Users are encouraged to create their own ADHD essential oil blend from the list below to help address individual symptoms.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil’s calming properties may help individuals with ADHD stay focused. Studies have shown that lavender essential oil can help stabilize moods, promote relaxation and may help lower energy levels and regulate general anxiety. These qualities may be particularly effect for those with hyperactivity symptoms.
Lavender essential oil can be applied topically or inhaled via aromatherapy for ADHD. When applied topically, constitutes of lavender essential oil may have an acute influence on the central nervous system.3 Lavender is often regarded as one of the top essential oils for hyperactivity.
Lemon Essential Oil
The aroma of lemon essential oil is said to help induce relaxation, relieve stress and promote mental clarity. A recent study noted that lemon essential oil has significant anti-stress effects. For patients with ADHD who get stressed when trying to complete day to day tasks, inhaling lemon essential oil may help calm them down.
People with ADHD are more likely to have other mood disorders such as depression or anxiety, that may add to their ADHD symptoms.1 Preliminary studies have observed anti-depressant-like effects when using lemon essential oil in animal models. It’s thought that lemon essential oil may help regulate serotonin and dopamine in the brain, and may provide benefits to individuals with ADHD as well.
Vetiver Essential Oil
Vetiver essential oil’s properties can help relieve mental exhaustion and stress, and enhance the ability to focus. Known as the ‘oil of tranquility’, vetiver essential oil, along lavender and cedarwood essential oil were studied for their effects on children with ADHD. Patients simply inhaled the essential oil by opening the bottle and holding under their nose daily, for a 30-day period. Results show that in the group who received vetiver oil, ADHD symptoms were significantly decreased and patients were shown to have a 32% improvement in post-treatment testing.5
While vetiver and ADHD may be an unlikely combination, its natural calming properties may have an effect on nervous tension and impulsivity. While research is preliminary, these results indicate that with vetiver essential oil, ADHD symptoms may become much more manageable.
For those wondering how to use vetiver essential oil for ADHD, add 2-3 drops of vetiver essential oil into a diffuser. Allow the aroma to spread throughout the room. As vetiver has a strong earthy aroma, you may wish to combine with other ADHD essential oils. For a pleasant aroma, combine 2 drops each of vetiver and lavender essential oil in a diffuser.
Essential Oils for ADHD Child
While many symptoms of ADHD are considered ‘normal child behavior’ the frequency or severity of symptoms may point to a larger problem. ADHD symptoms may emerge as early as the age of 3 and continue into adolescence. Diagnosing and helping the child who has ADHD as early as possible can be of great benefit to both the child and to the family. Often symptoms such as inattention or impulsivity may affect schoolwork, behavior or interaction with others. Untreated ADHD may lead to difficulty learning, developing bad habits and or affect self-esteem.1
Using essential oils for ADHD in children may play a supportive role in managing the condition. With essential oils, focus can be maintained and a sense of control over one’s life can be encouraged.
Lavender, vetiver and lemon are often cited as the best essential oils for ADHD children. Aromatherapy for ADHD can easily be done at home, is non-invasive and natural.
When using essential oils for kids with ADHD, always use smaller quantities as children are more susceptible to their effects. Parents should consult with a health care professional before using any ADHD or focus essential oil on their child.
Best Essential Oils for ADHD, Focus, and Concentration
For those interested in finding the best essential oils for ADHD, there are plenty to choose from. Depending on their symptoms, users may consider using lavender, lemon, vetiver or ylang ylang essential oils. These are all excellent essential oils for ADHD and can easily be combined together in a diffuser, therapeutic bath, or massage. Basil, lemon, peppermint and rosemary essential oils may all be used as natural remedies for energy and alertness. Rosemary is also considered one of the best stimulating essential oils.
Patchouli, vetiver and ylang ylang are good choices of essential oils for focus and concentration. These may be beneficial for individuals with ADHD symptoms such as inattention or those who have trouble staying on task. Using an essential oil for concentration may help support mental focus or alertness for users of all ages.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- National Institute of Mental Health. (2016, March). Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Retrieved May 10, 2017 from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml – View reference
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: PubMed Health. (n.d.). Essential Oils. Retrieved May 10, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0025082
- Koulivand, P. H., Khaleghi Ghadiri, M., & Gorji, A. (2013). Lavender and the Nervous System. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013, 1-10. doi:1155/2013/681304
- TILDESLEY, N., KENNEDY, D., PERRY, E., BALLARD, C., WESNES, K., & SCHOLEY, A. (2005). Positive modulation of mood and cognitive performance following administration of acute doses of Salvia lavandulaefolia essential oil to healthy young volunteers. Physiology & Behavior, 83(5), 699-709. doi:1016/j.physbeh.2004.09.010
- Friedmann, T. S. (n.d.). ATTENTION DEFICIT AND HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADHD). Retrieved May 10, 2017 from https://www.scribd.com/document/215984541/ADHD-Research-by-Terry-S-Friedmann-M-D-Adobe-Doc