But I'm raving too much, back to the nitty gritty. What do I consider absolutely essential in my kit? In my opinion, everyone should have the following oils around:
- Mandarin (or any citrus, or all the citruses, but at least one and this is my favorite)
- Tea Tree
- Peppermint (Do not use on or around children under 6, even to diffuse, but Spearmint is similar and safe to use around children over 2)
- Eucalyptus (Do not use on or around children under 10, even to diffuse)
- Clove (do not, I repeat do not, use this for teething... or any topical use on kids under 2)
- Ravensara (Agathophyllum aromatica or Ravensara aromatica, NOT the similarly named Ranintsara or Cinnamomum camphora)
- Roman Chamomile
- Thyme Linalol (the linalol bit is important, esp if you're using it around kids)
- Cinnamon (works as a blood thinner, so do not use if you have clotting issues. Even if you diffuse it)
- Clary Sage (has an estrogenic affect, so avoid if you should be avoiding estrogen, eg. if you are pregnant or suffering from certain cancers)
General warnings- Essential oils should be used sparingly around kids under 2. Topical use should be avoided altogether for kids under 2. Diffusing is my favorite method of use, and what I do 95% of the time. Please dilute appropriately for age any time you use topically (see sources below for dilution rates)
K, now that I got all of THAT out of the way (phew! but we want to be safe, right?), what do I do with all of these? Just a few quick examples of what I do (see above re: not listening to me, though).
Frankincense- gives a general feeling of well being, can be calming for after something traumatic. Also anti-inflammatory and useful in skin care. Good for coughs.
Lavender- this is popular for a reason. It smells amazing, for one thing. And it has been clinically proven to enhance relaxation and lessen anxiety. It is safe for use around children of all ages (not topically under 2) and is one of the ONLY oils that can be used neat (in moderation, not on children, and only if you know what you are doing). It also happens to be anti-inflamatory and antibacterial. So yeah, this one gets used a lot.
Mandarin (or any citrus)- citrus oils are another awesome and widely used oil. They are cheap, easy to obtain, and other than the fact that most are phototoxic (ie don't use them on your skin if you're going to be in the sun, you will burn badly... and mandarin is NOT, which is one of the reasons it's my fave!) they are safe for use around children of all ages. They uplift the spirit, lessen anxiety, and are antibacterial. They also bust grease like no one's business... as well as melt plastic, so be careful with them. DO NOT ingest citrus oils, no matter what you hear, unless under the direction of an aromatherapist. If you want lemon water, buy a lemon!
Tea Tree- Tea tree oil is another that is hugely popular, especially with parents, because it is antifungal, and who hasn't suffered from a yeast issue when you have one in diapers? Here's a tip, though- DO NOT waste your oils by putting them in the wash. Your washer is huge. You would need huge amounts of tea tree oil to kill the yeast in your diapers. It is better to use properly diluted tea tree oil on the rash itself. A balm made from tea tree oil can also be useful on ring worm.
Peppermint- Because of the menthol content, peppermint is not recommended for children under 6. Otherwise, this is a generally safe oil that can be used to treat nausea and headaches and that has an energizing, invigorating scent. As I said above, spearmint has similar affects and is safe for children over 2.
Eucalyptus- Do not use eucalyptus on or around children under the age of 10. Because of one of it's constituents (1, 8 cineole) it can cause small childrens' breathing to slow dangerously or even stop. However, for children over 10 and adults it is an extremely effecitve decongestant and expectorant.
Clove- As I said above, do NOT use as a teething remedy! Otherwise, clove smells really good and is a great oil to diffuse during flu season, as it is anti viral.
Ravensara- Ravensara oil is a STRONG antiviral. It is the kind of oil that I think is important to keep around and hope you never have to use it. I bust this one out in case of actual flu, Norovirus, or fifth disease... the kinds of nasty viruses kids tend to attract. And then I would only diffuse unless under the direct supervision of an aromatherapist.
And I will avoid going over the second list, because really, if you're going to keep and use essential oils, you need to do your own research. I only meant to pique your interest and show the wide variety of applications of a few oils. Although I will add, I totally want to put Roman Chamomile on the "must have list." I only got it myself recently because OMG the price... it is like gold (and coincidentally, my daughter left a bottle OPEN the other day and 1/3 of what I just bought evaporated into nothingness... on the same day I spilled a half a bottle of goldenseal tincture, which falls into the same "OMG pricey" category), but now that I have used it I see why. It is so soothing and relaxing, and it is safe to diffuse around kids of all ages. My big kids have been having issues sleeping lately and a combination of lavender and roman chamomile has made a huge difference. Like we all (well, all but the nursing mama!) are getting a full night of sleep again.
Anyway, here are some resources to begin your research on essential oils, including where I buy what.
Learning About Essential Oils- this is THE website (and there is a facebook discussion group as well) when it comes to learning about the safety of essential oils around children. If you go to the home page (the page I linked to) and scroll down you'll see a box that includeds many of their most popular posts- I specifically want you to read "Children and EO's" if you have children, and "Diluting EO's." But honestly every one of those is worth a read.
Mountain Rose Herbs- a great source for affordable essential oils (mostly organic) and hydrosols (in addition to herbs and other fun stuff).
Verditas Botanicals- this is a local (to me) company that makes great, high quality organic essential oils. I get 99% of my single oils from them and Mountain Rose Herbs.
The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, by Valerie Worwood
Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child, by Valerie Worwood
Essential Oil Safety by Robert Tisserand
(those are the books I own, and therefore can recommend, but there are other recommendations on the Learning about Essential Oils Page)