Data and Statistics
Cost of ADHD
The Science of ADHD
The Importance of Science
Understanding Research Studies
Levels of Evidence for ADHD Interventions
Treatment of ADHD
Complementary and Other Interventions
Neurofeedback (EEG Biofeedback)
Fish Oil Supplements and ADHD
Nutrition and ADHD
Questions and Answers
Carrying Your Medication
ADHD, Sleep and Sleep Disorders
Disruptive Behavior Disorders
Tics and Tourette Syndrome
Professionals Who Diagnose and Treat ADHD
Hospital and University ADHD Centers
Insurance and Public Benefits
The Insurance System
Paying for Medications
Private Health Insurance
Public Health Insurance
Frequently Asked Questions about ADHD
Myths and Misunderstandings
Glossary of Terms
ADHD in the News
Fact Sheets on ADHD
For Parents & Caregivers
Parent Training and Education
Social Skills Interventions
Coexisting Conditions in Children
Pediatric Bipolar Disorder
Substance Abuse and ADHD
Common Coexisting Conditions in Children
Preschoolers and ADHD
Behavioral Therapy for Young Children
ADHD and Childcare
Diagnosing ADHD in Adolescence
Treatment of Teens with ADHD
ADHD Information for Teens
Parenting Teens with ADHD
Questions and Answers
Teens with ADHD and Driving
Teens and Driving
Medication Abuse and Diversion
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Requesting an Evaluation in Public Schools
Tips for Working with the School
Tips for Talking to Teachers about ADHD
Finding the Right College
Disclosing ADHD During the Admissions Process
Succeeding in College with ADHD
Scholarships & Financial Aid
Questions and Answers
Tips for Completing Homework
How to Communicate with your Child’s Teacher
Homework Help for ADHD
Surviving the Holidays with ADHD
Diagnosis of ADHD
Diagnosing ADHD in Adults
ADHD and the Military
How to Succeed in the Workplace
Laws and Legal Protections
Americans with Disabilities - ADA & ADAAA
Legal Rights in Higher Education and the Workplace
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Finding an Attorney or Legal Advocate
Living with ADHD: A Lifespan Disorder
Women and Girls
ADHD Medication and Pregnancy
ADHD and Driving
Organization and Time Management
Relationships & Social Skills
Marriage and Partnerships
Social Skills in Adults with ADHD
Mastering Social Skills
Time Management: Step-By-Step with a Day Planner
Apps for ADHD
For Healthcare Professionals
Clinical Practice Guidelines
The ADHD Diagnostic Process
Diagnosis in Adults
Diagnosis in Children
Clinical Practice Tools
Evaluation and Assessment Tools
Rating Scales and Checklists
Treatment of Adults
The Role of Medication
Teacher Training on ADHD
Tips for Teachers Video Series
Recursos en español
Tips and Resources
Medical Benefit Program
Start a Group
Current CHADD Volunteers
Volunteer Leader Center
Login to your CHADD email
Edit your website
Other Local Support Resources
Find a Study
Post a Research Study
Young Scientist Awards
CHADD's Amazon Store
P2P On Demand Webinars
CHADD Advocacy Manual
Training & Events
Save the Date - 2018 Conference on ADHD
Call for Papers - 2018 Conference on ADHD
2017 Annual International Conference on ADHD
2017 Conference Web Site
Pre Conference Handouts -Thursday 11/9/17
General Conference Handouts -Friday 11/10/17
General Conference Handouts - Saturday 11/11/17
General Conference Handouts - Sunday 11/12/17
Conference Program Book
Order the 2017 CHADD Conference In-A-Box
ADHD Awareness Month
ADHD Awareness Month Calendar
Ask the Expert
Ask the Expert Educator Edition
Parent to Parent Program
P2P On Demand Sessions
Family Training on ADHD In Your Community
Teacher to Teacher
Teacher to Teacher - School System
Calendar of Events
Training for Professionals
Health Care Providers
Training for Parents
Transitioning to Adulthood
Find a Chapter
Local Affiliate Resources
Tools and Resources
Start a Group
Recruitment & Retention Tools
Renew My Membership
The ADHD Tool Kit
Membership Types and Benefits
Get Listed in CHADD's Resource Directory
JOIN CHADD - International Membership
JOIN CHADD - US Membership
Attention Magazine Subscriptions
Attention Magazine - Digital Editions
CHADD Discount Advantage Programs
Mission and History
National Resource Center
Boards and Staff
Board of Directors
Professional Advisory Board
Public Policy Committee
CHADD Funding Sources
Advertise with CHADD
2018 Annual Meeting - Exhibitor Information
Jobs at CHADD
Report a Problem
Gifts that Lead
Gifts that Sustain
Gifts that Double
Other Ways to Donate
Corporate Partner Members
Donate Your Vehicle
ADHD Weekly Newsletter
Smells Good to Me: What about Aromatherapy?
Join the discussion.
Although many essential oils smell nice, there is no scientific evidence they produce positive measurable outcomes consistently across a given population. Nevertheless, you may have seen online articles and advertisements for essential oils to alleviate ADHD symptoms. But do essential oils actually help?
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are the fragrant oils of flowers, herbs, or trees. When you inhale the sweet smells of an orange or a rose or your nose itches after sniffing cedar wood in a closet, you’ve breathed in small amounts of these plants’ essential oils. They can be removed from the plant and bottled for use by steam distillation or by pressing the plant. Essential oils can be used by putting them in a diffuser, which releases the scent into the air; putting them in a bath; or mixing them with a carrier oil such as almond or olive oil and rubbing on the skin.
Some people believe using essential oils will diminish symptoms of inattention, anxiety, depression, anger, and hyperactivity and increase one’s ability to focus on a task.
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years in various cultures to attempt to treat various ailments. The use of essential oils is known as
. When combining aromatherapy with treatment for any medical condition, it is considered a
; meaning it is used in addition to other forms of treatment.
Some people use aromatherapy in an attempt to enhance their quality of life, such as reducing stress and anxiety.
Laboratory studies and animal studies have suggested that certain essential oils may have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, calming, or energizing effects.
Safety testing on essential oils has found very few negative side effects.
Aromatherapy products do not need approval by the US Food and Drug Administration because no specific medical claims are made.
Aromatherapy and Essential Oils (PDQ®)–Patient Version
Research focusing on aromatherapy and ADHD is limited. Studies often look at aromatherapy or the effect of specific essential oils on ADHD and co-occurring anxiety and depression. Other studies look at aromatherapy on cognitive disorders including Autism Spectrum Disorder and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers have studied individual essential oils and multiple oils mixed together, known as blends, as complementary treatments.
Matricaria chamomilla may improve some symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
A small sample of teen boys was given chamomile oil preparations to address the ADHD symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention. When evaluated using the Connors evaluation tool, the researchers saw some improvement in the boys’ scores. Researchers concluded, “Although the sample size is very small and therefore generalization is very difficult, this observation indicates that Matricaria chamomilla [the chamomile preparation] might be a slightly effective treatment also for ADHD” symptoms.
The effectiveness of aromatherapy for depressive symptoms: a systematic review.
Researchers reviewed a collection of studies that considered the effects of various essential oils and blends of oils on the symptoms of depression, a condition that frequently co-occurs with ADHD. The analysis found enough evidence to suggest that aromatherapy, when combined with massage therapy, may be helpful for some people affected by depression. They write, “Aromatherapy showed potential to be used as an effective therapeutic option for the relief of depressive symptoms in a wide variety of subjects. Particularly, aromatherapy massage showed to have more beneficial effects than inhalation aromatherapy.”
There are more studies, in addition to the ones referenced here, exploring aromatherapy as a complementary approach. For more information on aromatherapy as an adjunct approach to treatment, visit the
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
Is aromatherapy a complementary approach for some people in addressing their ADHD symptoms? Here are some considerations in answering this question:
The available research provides some peer-reviewed studies that seem to indicate that symptoms may lessen; however, few people participated in these studies (suboptimal sample size).
Repeating these results may be difficult because the essential oils are derived from plants, are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, and, therefore, the amounts and effects are not standardized.
The research is inconclusive because other factors―including massage, memory association with some scents, and the effect of the carrier oil—were not controlled in these studies and therefore can be neither quantified nor ruled out as dependent variables.
In some studies, the results were not reliably measured in numbers but only in descriptive data.
Although using aromatherapy as a complementary approach
may be helpful
for some people, the evidence isn’t strong enough to broadly suggest its use.
As with all complementary, alternative, and traditional treatment approaches to ADHD, discuss with your health care provider before adding essential oils to your routine. Many people will also consult with a trained aromatherapist when first learning about essential oils; your health care provider or local health clinic or hospital may be able to direct you to professionals in your area.
You can find more research on this topic and other topics related to ADHD in our
ADHD Research Library
Have you tried essential oils or aromatherapy to help your well-being or to scent your environment?
Share your experiences with our community
This article appeared in
on March 2, 2017.
This article appeared in
March 02, 2017.
The information provided on this website was supported by Cooperative Agreement Number NU38DD005376 funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC or the Department of Health and Human Services.