How to Use Essential Oils for Cerebral Palsy
Although cerebral palsy is not progressive and the underlying damage doesn’t worsen, there is no available cure for the disorder. It is possible, however, to manage your child’s condition and help make their life as free of pain and stress as possible, and many parents of children with cerebral palsy turn to alternative therapies to help. One natural remedy, essential oils, may help relieve a child’s discomfort and aid in relaxation.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are certain compounds extracted from plants that capture the plant’s essence, including its scent and flavor. Plant leaves, seeds, barks, roots, and rinds can all produce essential oils, many of which have medicinal or healing properties.
Why Use Essential Oils for CP?
Because cerebral palsy is a neurological issue, it affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills. It also disrupts the body’s ability to move in a coordinated way. Most children with cerebral palsy experience pain as a result of impairments such as abnormal posture, contractures, dystonia, skin breakdown, hip subluxation, and scoliosis.
The pain associated with CP can greatly affect a child’s well-being, behavior, and overall mood. Incorporating various pain management techniques helps discover to see what works best for your child. Many families turn to the holistic, soothing properties of essential oils as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs that often cause side effects. Others use them as a safe and complementary therapy alongside the doctor-prescribed treatments that work for them.
Some of the benefits of using essential oils for symptoms of CP include:
- Improved relaxation
- Decreased muscle strains and stiffness
- Pain management
- Calming effects
- Mood-boosting effects
Which Essential Oils Are Most Commonly Used to Treat Symptoms of CP?
- Ginger. This warming spice has long been used in various forms of traditional and alternative medicine. The part of the plant that’s used for these purposes is called the rhizome, which is an underground stem from which the roots of the ginger branch. Ginger has incredible anti-inflammatory properties, so it helps ease pain and improve mobility. It also functions as a sort of muscle relaxant—which helps treat the muscle stiffness and spasms that are so common with cerebral palsy.
- Copaiba. This exotic oil comes from resin tapped from the Brazilian Copaifera reticulata tree. It supports the nervous system while also acting as natural pain relief. In fact, a 2018 study found that people with arthritis experienced a decrease in pain scores, an increase in finger strength, and improved finger dexterity when using a copaiba essential oil and Deep Blue essential oil blend, as compared with coconut oil.
- Chamomile. Long touted for its medicinal properties, chamomile is one of the most ancient medicinal herbs known to mankind. Its flowers contain terpenoids and flavonoids contributing to its medicinal properties, and it can help with inflammation, muscle spasms, and overall relaxation.
- Peppermint oil. Chronic fatigue is another symptom that affects individuals with cerebral palsy, which can be a considerable disruption to a child’s life. Peppermint oil, however, is great for increasing alertness and mental clarity throughout the day. In fact, one study showed that inhaling peppermint essential oil increased lung capacity and inhalation ability. Researchers theorize that this resulted in more oxygen to the brain, which could be useful in continuing physical activity.
- Vetiver. Emotional regulation is often a challenge for children with cerebral palsy. Vetiver oil—also known as khus oil—is extracted from the vetiver plant, in the same family as other grasses used for essential oils such as citronella and lemongrass. Vetiver oil is very useful for calming the mind and body, which can help tremendously for children who are experiencing anger, anxiety, or frustration.
- Lavender. There’s a reason why this scent is so often associated with bubble baths, relaxation, and bedtime rituals. Various studies have shown the efficacy of lavender for a good night’s sleep, including this one, which highlighted increased daytime alertness and more sustained sleep at night.
Alternative approaches to healing and relief, including the use of essential oils, are becoming increasingly more common in the treatment of many illnesses and conditions, including CP. Many alternative therapies are considered low risk, which is what makes them appealing to families and caregivers of children with CP.
As with any alternative treatment, essential oils may not work for everyone. However, they’ve shown plenty of anecdotal evidence of improvements with individuals who live with cerebral palsy. And because they’re extracted from plants, they’re a natural option that typically doesn’t come with the harsh side effects that many pharmaceutical drugs do.
It is important to know that some treatments, like dietary supplements or essential oils—including all-natural herbal products—may be dangerous by themselves or interact with other products or medications. Parents of children with CP should always discuss alternative therapies with their doctor in the search for providing the best care and quality of life for their children.
If you suspect that your child’s cerebral palsy was the result of preventable medical errors, contact the Cerebral Palsy Family Lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs to discuss your legal options. We put our 40+ years of experience to work in uncovering the truth and seeking compensation to provide for your child for the rest of their lives.
Giles H. Manley, M.D., J.D., F.A.C.O.G. | CPFN Medical Advisor
Board-Certified OBGYN | Medical Malpractice Attorney
Dr. Manley has delivered over 2,000 babies and uses his wealth of medical knowledge to uncover medical errors that were missed by others (keep in mind most CP cases involve errors committed at or around the time of birth). READ FULL BIO