Aromatherapy and ADHD

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

Can aromatherapy really help decrease symptoms of ADHD? As I researched around the internet, I found very little evidence to support aromatherapy. A number of sites reference a small study completed by Dr. Terry Friedmann who measured the brain waves of children with ADHD before and after using aromatherapy. However, if you look at Dr. Friedmann's website you realize he sells aromatherapy products and therefore you have to question whether his study is objective.

An article in Newsweek magazine, "Does Aromatherapy Work?" discusses research on some common scents, lavender and lemon. Lavender is thought to help people relax and lemon is thought to be stimulating. But researchers at Ohio State University did not find this to hold up.
They found that lemon oil helped mood but lavender did not create any change in book. Neither scent helped with pain, heart rate or blood pressure.

But other studies do show that scents can influence our thinking. For example, ScienceDaily reported on a study on shoppers. Women exposed to the scent of chocolate chip cookies tended to make impulsive purchases, even if they were on a tight budget.

While there isn't a great deal of scientific evidence to support aromatherapy for medical conditions, it has been around for around 5,000 years and can be traced back to ancient China, India, Persia and Egypt and is still popular today. Based on this, I researched what scents are thought to help with some of the major symptoms of ADHD, specifically scents which are thought to promote focus and relaxation.
Remember, you may react differently than others so if you are interested in trying aromatherapy, try out different scents to see what works best for you.

Scents to promote relaxation or reduce hyperactivity:

  • Lavender

  • Vetiver

  • Cedarwood

  • Frankincense

  • Bergamot

  • Geranium

  • Rose

  • Patchouli

Scents to promote focus, mental alertness and concentration:

  • Peppermint

  • Lemon

  • Eucalyptus

  • Rosemary

  • Basil

  • Cypress

  • Hyssop

How to Use Essential Oils

Aromatherapy uses essential oils which can be purchased in many stores and online. There are a number of different ways you can use these oils:

  • Inhalation through diffusers

  • Baths, by adding a few drops into your bath water

  • Adding a few drops to a hot compress

  • Putting a few drops in hot water and inhaling the steam

  • Use diluted essential oils for massage (undiluted essential oils should not be applied directly to your skin)

If you have health conditions, such as asthma, seizures, high blood pressure, are pregnant or are currently receiving chemotherapy, you should speak with your doctor before trying aromatherapy.
In some cases, aromatherapy can cause rashes, headaches, or liver or nerve damage. You should speak with your doctor if you experience any of these side effects.


"Aroma Of Chocolate Chip Cookies Prompts Splurging On Expensive Sweaters," 2008, Jan 12, ScienceDaily

"Aromatherapy: Art or Science?" 2004, Tina M. Esposito, Carrie J. DeKorte,

"Does Aromatherapy Work?" 2008, March 4, Author Unknown, Newsweek

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.