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.