Back to School Aromatherapy

Published 3:52 pm Friday, July 28, 2017

Written by Amanda Edwards, photos by Tom and Sue Rea

Using essential oils to prevent sickness, aid concentration, hide gym shoe odors

Well, moms, dads, and grandparents, it’s that time of year again… back to school! As you plan healthy lunches, shop for those elusive erasable red pens, arrange car pool drop offs, and buy backpacks, do not forget that with homework and papers come germs and sickness. By sharing supplies, using public restrooms, and touching playground equipment, there are many different ways to spread germs within schools. Instead of sending your child with chemical-laden sanitizers and sprays, you can use a much safer and healthier alternative – essential oils to disinfect hands, surfaces, and equipment.

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As a certified aromatherapist, I know that oils such as rosemary, lavender, lemon, and peppermint can aid in keeping sickness-causing germs at bay. For instance, Mentha piperata, or peppermint, not only has a rejuvenating fragrance and can give a nice energy boost, but is also anti-bacterial and anti-viral. Peppermint is a great addition to sanitizing blends, but is also useful for headaches and concentration. When my children have a test or quiz coming up, I apply a few drops of peppermint essential oil to an inhaler, along with grapefruit, sweet orange, and lemon essential oils. This wonderful blend assists in keeping them alert and awake on test-taking days. If your child has test anxiety, add a few drops of lavender and Roman chamomile essential oils to help keep them calm.

Rosmarinus officinalis, or rosemary, can ward off skin infections, enhance memory functions, and is useful when battling colds or the flu. It’s also anti-viral and anti-bacterial, which makes it a powerful addition to homemade hand sanitizer. 

Back to school time also means the kids will be busy with extra-curricular activities and sports. Whether it is marching band, football, soccer, or cross-country, there is one thing we parents can count on after picking up our kids from practice—smelly shoes, gym bags, and equipment.

Instead of using store bought spray filled with unsafe chemicals, you can create your own DIY blend with essential oils. A powerful oil to use is Melaleuca alternifolia, or tea tree. Tea tree is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and can also help with acne issues. To battle the rancid smell of gym shoes, I suggest using Cedrus Atlantica, or cedar essential oil to refresh shoes.

Remember when grandmothers used cedar chests to protect linens and keep them smelling fresh? They knew exactly what they were doing. A refreshing essential oil, cedar, especially when paired with tea tree, is perfect for sanitizing smelly shoes and equipment. Don’t like cedar? Use pine instead! Or, add sweet orange, which adds a lovely, uplifting smell to any aromatherapy blend. 

Regarding essential oil safety, I must, in good conscience, give you a warning—do not apply essential oils directly onto the skin without a carrier oil. Children are highly sensitive to oils, and blends used on them must be highly diluted. Common carrier oils used in aromatherapy include grapeseed, jojoba, coconut, rosehip, and argan. This list is not exclusive.

In addition, please do not ingest essential oils. Currently, there is a lot of misinformation about essential oils being spread around the Internet. Remember, whatever you apply to the skin is absorbed into the blood stream. Some oils can permanently damage and scar skin, or if ingested, can be fatal.

Express great caution when using essential oils with children. A wonderful resource for parents interested in using essential oils with children is “Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child” by Valerie Ann Worwood. When sending an aromatherapy blend to school, please remember to include a signed and dated note, or call the school nurse in advance to see if inhalers, sprays, and rollers are allowed. If you are unsure about how to dilute essential oils, please contact a certified aromatherapist for more information, and use common sense.

Essential oils can be a wonderful eco-friendly and holistic addition to the family medicine cabinet. They have the ability to boost immunity, improve focus, and create a calming environment during study time. I hope the use of essential oils will assist your family as much as it has mine. •

Amanda Edwards is a certified aromatherapist, member of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, and owner of her own company, Juniper Jade Essentials. Amanda lives in Tryon with her husband and two children.
She writes a lifestyle blog at