(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – The growing trend of using essential oils to calm children with autism and help them sleep has caught the attention of researchers who’ve launched a study to see if there is any proof the approach works.
“All over the country, parents claim they’ve seen improvements in the quality of life and in the behavior of their children by using essential oils, but all those claims are anecdotal,” said Jill Hollway, Ph.D., who is leading the study at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Nisonger Center. “We want to see if there is any science behind it.”
Essential oils like lavender, sandalwood and frankincense have been said to help children with autism better handle transitional periods, like going to school or to bed. It’s estimated as many as 3 out of 4 children with autism experience trouble sleeping and there are currently no FDA-approved medications for pediatric sleep problems.
“We’re going to test two different mixtures of 18 different essential oils, having parents apply them topically and using them at night through a diffuser,” said Hollway. “Children will also wear a device at night that measures their activity level to see if the oils help them stay asleep.”
The study will follow two dozen children over the course of the next two years.