Frankincense Essential Oil as a Complementary Therapy for Autism
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental condition characterized by challenges with social skills, communication, and restrictive/repetitive behaviors. While there is no cure for autism, many complementary therapies and interventions aim to improve symptoms and quality of life for individuals on the spectrum. Frankincense essential oil is a natural treatment that some parents and caregivers have found helpful. Derived from the resin of Boswellia tree species, frankincense oil has been used therapeutically for thousands of years. Today, some proponents suggest it may support relaxation, focus, and communication in people with autism.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the proposed benefits of frankincense for ASD and guide safe and appropriate usage. While more research is still needed, frankincense oil shows promise as a supplemental aid for managing autism symptoms. When used correctly, it may help calm the body and mind for improved well-being.
Proposed Benefits of Frankincense Oil for Autism
Frankincense oil influences the limbic system, the brain region involved in emotions, behavior, motivation, and long-term memory. For individuals with autism, supporting healthy limbic system function may have the following benefits:
- Reduced anxiety and emotional overwhelm. The calming aroma of frankincense may help relax the mind and body, easing anxiety, agitation, and emotional meltdowns. The oil may promote feelings of comfort and security.
- They have improved focus and concentration. Some parents report the oil helps their children feel more focused, attentive, and engaged. This may support learning and academic performance.
- It has enhanced communication and connection. By reducing anxiety and supporting focus/engagement, frankincense may help kids on the spectrum communicate more effectively. The oil may also improve bonding between parent and child.
- Better sleep. Frankincense is known for its relaxing, sleep-promoting properties. Getting healthy sleep is crucial for kids with ASD.
- It decreased repetitive behaviors. The oil’s balancing effect on the limbic system may reduce tendencies toward repetitive movements and speech.
- Immune system support. Frankincense oil contains Boswellia acids that support healthy inflammation responses in the body. Managing inflammation may benefit autistic behaviors.
Using Frankincense Oil Safely and Effectively
Frankincense essential oil has a warm, woody, sweet aroma. To use it as a home treatment for autism, here are some tips:
- Try diffusing a few drops in your child’s bedroom at nighttime for restful sleep. It can also diffuse during homework time to enhance focus.
- For emotional regulation, place 1-2 drops on your palms, rub your hands together, and inhale deeply. It can provide quick soothing during meltdowns.
- Add a few drops to an Epsom salt bath – the magnesium sulfate is absorbed through the skin to calm the nervous system further.
- To improve communication, diffuse oil in the room or apply diluted oil to the child’s feet and wrists before therapy sessions.
- Massage diluted oil (combined with carrier oil) into shoulders, neck, back, or hands to reduce stimming behaviors.
- For immune support, add 1-2 drops to water or smoothies. It is also safe to apply diluted oil to the chest during illness.
Always use high-quality, 100% pure therapeutic-grade frankincense oil. Perform a skin patch test before wide-scale use to check for allergies. Keep out of reach of young children. Consult your pediatrician if your child has medication allergies or health conditions before use. Finally, monitor your ASD child closely and note any positive or adverse changes after starting an oil regimen. Adjust usage accordingly.
Research on Frankincense for Autism
While many parents and natural healers praise frankincense oil as a helpful complementary autism therapy, scientific research is still early. However, a few promising studies have emerged:
- A 2016 study found Boswellia acids in frankincense oil may inhibit 5-lipoxygenase, an enzyme associated with inflammation and autism. This suggests potential anti-inflammatory benefits.
- In a 2018 study, mice predisposed toward autistic behaviors were given boswellia resin extract. Their repetitive and anti-social behaviors were reduced, suggesting frankincense may balance key brain chemicals.
- A small 2014 clinical trial involving children ages 5-12 found that Boswellia extract improved leaky gut symptoms and reduced autistic behavior scales by 82% after 12 weeks.
While human studies are still needed, this preliminary research is encouraging. The safety profile and long historical use of frankincense oil also support its potential in managing ASD symptoms.
For parents and caregivers seeking complementary therapies for autism, frankincense essential oil appears promising based on its proposed limbic system support and calming biological actions. Using the oil aromatically, topically, or orally may help ease anxiety, enhance focus, boost communication, reduce repetitive behaviors, and support a healthy inflammation response. While more research is warranted, frankincense oil may be a beneficial natural aid when managing ASD. When purchasing high-quality oil from a reputable source, following safety guidelines, and monitoring your child closely, frankincense will likely have an excellent risk/benefit profile. Many parents report noticeable improvements in quality of life without adverse side effects. If used as part of a holistic approach alongside other therapies and interventions, frankincense oil could make a difference!