You've probably heard of essential oils, and you probably know that many of them smell good. But few parents realize just how useful they can be on a day to day basis. These natural oils, extracted from different sorts of plants, retain many of the properties of the amazing plants they come from. Just as veggies, fruits and other healthy foods have many benefits for our bodies and minds, so do essential oils.
Essential oils can be useful no matter your age, though it's always best to monitor their usage when it comes to children. Here are six of the most useful essential oils for parents and families.
1. Tea tree oil
Extracted from the tea tree (also known as the Melaleuca tree--not be be confused with the tea plant from which beverages are made) tea tree oil is one of the most popular essential oils. You can find it in everything from soaps to shampoos to vapor rubs to lotions. It stands to reason, since the oil is known to have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Like aloe, it is safe for use on children, and can be rubbed onto cuts, burns, and rashes to soothe skin. If your child has a cold, some tea tree oil-infused vapor rub can help gently relieve congestion. A small amount can also be added to bath water and breathed in, to sooth inflamed nasal passages.
Have a little one who won't go to sleep? Lavender essential oil, extracted from the herb of the same name, may be just the thing to help them nod off. Lavender is renowned the world over for its calming scent, so much so that it has been widely used to help people suffering from anxiety and insomnia. Use an infuser on a child's nightstand to spread the scent of lavender essential oil throughout their bedroom, or add a bit of lavender to the tub before bath time and bed.
3. Peppermint oil
Peppermint isn't just a candy! Those popular red and white breath-fresheners derive their flavor from the peppermint plant--the same place peppermint essential oil comes from. This zesty essential oil is famous for its fresh scent, but perhaps its most important use is as a digestive aid.
Peppermint oil is known to soothe mild indigestion. If your child has a grumbling stomach, add a couple of drops to their water or tea. But be conservative! This oil is strong and can be bitter if too much is used.
4. Rose oil
Enter any cosmetics store, and you'll find all sorts of products, from face scrubs to bath bombs, infused with rose oil. That's because this essential oil is known to be good for the skin. Rose oil can soothe mild rashes and has been know to help reduce the redness of acne--a useful thing to know if you have pre-teens suffering from the irritating condition.
Rose oil's other most important property is the wonderful scent. It's a natural mood lifter. Which means that whether your kid has had a rough day at school, or you've had a stressful parenting day, a whiff of rose oil can calm the nerves and make anyone feel a bit happier.
5. Chamomile oil
Extracted from the daisy-like chamomile plant, chamomile is most famously known as an ingredient in sleep-aiding tea. This plant's soothing properties are potent. When rubbed into a sore area, it can even relieve aching muscles. And what parent doesn't endure some aching muscles, now and then?
This is another great essential oil to help kids get to sleep, as well, or to help calm them during rowdy periods. Infusing the scent throughout your home, using a heated infuser or infusing sticks, should do the trick.
Frankincense is the name for the hardened sap of the Boswellia tree. It is this sap from which this essential oil is extracted. Sometimes referred to as "the king of essential oils," Frankincense is often pricey, but versatile.
Like rose oil and tea tree oil, it can soothe skin. Like peppermint, it can aid in digestive health, and gently treat conditions like flatulence and indigestion. Like lavender and chamomile, the scent is soothing and a good sleep-promoter. If you're willing to invest in frankincense, it can have a myriad of uses, from soothing diaper rash, to helping kids sleep, to calming their upset stomachs.