Benefits of Essential Oils for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Exploring the Benefits of Aromatherapy and Essential Oils for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by challenges in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors. While there is no cure for ASD, various interventions aim to alleviate symptoms and enhance the quality of life for individuals on the spectrum. Aromatherapy, the therapeutic use of essential oils derived from plants, has gained attention for its potential to support individuals with ASD. This document explores the application of aromatherapy and essential oils as a complementary approach in managing symptoms associated with ASD.

How Aromatherapy works:

Aromatherapy involves the use of aromatic compounds extracted from plants, known as essential oils, to promote physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. The plant oils are typically derived from flowers, leaves, stems, roots, or other parts of plants through distillation or cold pressing methods. Each essential oil possesses unique properties and aromatic fragrances that can evoke various physiological and emotional responses when inhaled or applied topically.

Benefits of Aromatherapy for Autism Spectrum Disorder:

Calming Effects: Certain essential oils, such as Lavender, Chamomile, and Bergamot, are known for their calming properties. Inhalation of these oils through diffusion or gentle massage may help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation in individuals with ASD, potentially aiding in managing sensory sensitivities and meltdowns.

Improved Sleep Patterns: Sleep disturbances are common among individuals with ASD. Essential oils like Lavender and Roman Chamomile have been shown to promote restful sleep and alleviate insomnia. Incorporating these oils into bedtime routines may help regulate sleep patterns and enhance overall sleep quality.

Sensory Stimulation: Aromatherapy can engage the sensory system through olfaction (smell) and tactile sensations (massage). For individuals with ASD, sensory experiences play a crucial role in their perception and interaction with the environment. Utilizing essential oils in sensory activities or as part of sensory integration therapy can provide a multi-sensory experience that supports cognitive and emotional development.

Stress Reduction: Essential oils such as Frankincense, Ylang-Ylang, and Vetiver possess stress-relieving properties and may help individuals with ASD cope with environmental stressors more effectively. Incorporating these oils into relaxation techniques or mindfulness practices can promote emotional resilience and self-regulation.

Here are some Commonly Used Essential Oils for Autism Spectrum Disorder:

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia):

Benefits: Lavender is renowned for its calming and relaxing properties. It can help reduce anxiety, promote better sleep quality, and soothe irritability, which are often common challenges for individuals with ASD. The soothing aroma of Lavender can help create a tranquil environment conducive to relaxation and sensory regulation.

Chamomile Roman (Anthemis nobilis):

Benefits: Chamomile essential oil possesses anti-anxiety and sedative properties, making it beneficial for individuals with ASD who experience heightened levels of stress or difficulty in calming down. Inhalation of Chamomile can induce a sense of tranquility and aid in emotional regulation, particularly during times of sensory overload or meltdowns.

Frankincense (Boswellia serrata):

Benefits: Frankincense is valued for its ability to promote emotional balance and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. For individuals with ASD, who may struggle with emotional regulation and mood fluctuations, Frankincense essential oil can offer a grounding effect, fostering a sense of inner peace and stability helping them stay focused. It is also known to help reduce stress reactions and negative emotions.

Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides):

Benefits: Vetiver essential oil is known for its relaxing, grounding and calming properties, making it particularly useful for individuals with ASD who experience sensory sensitivities and difficulty in maintaining attention. The earthy aroma of vetiver can help reduce hyperactivity, promote concentration, and enhance sensory integration, facilitating a sense of stability and focus in various activities.

Bergamot (Citrus bergamia):

Benefits: Bergamot essential oil has mood-lifting and antidepressant effects, which can be beneficial for individuals with ASD experiencing symptoms of depression or low mood. Its citrusy aroma is uplifting and refreshing, promoting feelings of optimism and vitality. Bergamot oil can be used to create a positive atmosphere and enhance emotional well-being, supporting individuals in managing emotional challenges associated with ASD.

How to Use:
Incorporating essential oils into aromatherapy practices, such as diffusion, topical application, or massage, can provide therapeutic benefits for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder. However, it's essential to consider individual sensitivities and preferences when selecting and using essential oils, and to consult with a qualified aromatherapist or healthcare professional for personalized guidance.

Considerations for Safe Use:

Like most people on the spectrum, every essential oil should be considered on an individual basis. No two people on the spectrum are exactly alike, nor should they be treated as such.

Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil before applying them topically, especially for children with ASD who may have sensitive skin. For children one drop may be enough. Conduct a patch test prior to widespread use to check for any allergic reactions or sensitivities.

Use caution with strong aromatic oils and avoid prolonged exposure in confined spaces to prevent sensory overload. Again one drop may be enough.

Consult with a qualified aromatherapist or healthcare professional, particularly if the individual has pre-existing medical conditions or is taking medication.


While essential oils offer potential benefits for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it is essential to approach their use as part of a holistic and individualized treatment plan. By integrating aromatherapy into sensory routines, relaxation techniques, or therapeutic interventions, caregivers and practitioners can explore the potential of essential oils to support the well-being and enhance the quality of life for individuals on the autism spectrum.