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Essential oils are made by plants. They are very concentrated and only a small amount is needed. Essential oils can be inhaled (breathed in) or diluted and applied to the skin. Different essential oils are helpful for different things. 

There are many essential oils. Here are five that can be provided by the hospital and what they can be helpful for. 

  Pain Headache Nausea Insomnia Anxiety Fatigue
Lavender   X   X X  
Lemon     X   X X
Orange     X X X  
Peppermint X X X     X
Spearmint X   X     X

If essential oils are placed on the skin they should be diluted in a carrier oil (such as jojoba, olive, almond, coconut, or canola oil) or lotion. The essential oils provided by the hospital are diluted in jojoba oil. 

Aromatherapy Recipes 

These recipes use undiluted essential oils. Essential oils are sold undiluted. 

Room Spray 

  • 2 ounces water + 5-10 drops essential oil 
  • Shake well before each use. 


  • 8 drops essential oil in 1T milk, cream, or honey OR to 1/4 c Epsom salts 
  • Add to bath water after filling tub (full-size tub, use fewer drops in baby tub) 

Lotion or massage oil 

3-24 months: 1 to 3 drops essential oil per 1 ounce lotion or oil 

2-6 years: 6 to 12 drops essential oil per 1 ounce lotion or oil 

6-15 years: 9 to 18 drops essential oil per 1 ounce lotion or oil 

15 years and older: 15 to 30 drops essential oil per 1 ounce lotion or oil 

Use fewer drops if you plan to put lotion on a large area. It is always ok to start with fewer drops and add more, but do not go above the highest number of drops. 

Lotion recommendations: 

  • Avoid anything with perfumes or dyes.  
  • Avoid anything with mineral oil, petrolatum, or petroleum jelly. These will degrade essential oils. 
  • Lotions with no or minimal alcohol are better choices. Alcohol is drying and also binds essential oils so it is not well absorbed by the skin. Cetearyl alcohol is the exception, it will not affect essential oils. 
  • Examples of good lotions to use: plain Lubiderm, Cera Vie, Aquaphilic, Vanicream, Cetaphil

Tips for finding good quality essential oils 

  • The label should include both the common name (lavender) and the scientific name (Lavendula augustifolia) of the plant. 
  • Look for a company that does quality testing (called GC/MS testing). Even better if the company hires an independent lab to do their testing and/or is willing to publicize results. 
  • Avoid “perfume oil” or “compounded oil.” These are made in a lab to smell like the essential oil but do not have the same effects as actual essential oils from plants. 
  • “Certified organic” is fine, but any other kind of certified is suspicious because there is no one in the United States that certifies essential oils.  
  • Avoid companies that sell all their oils for the same price. Some oils are more expensive to produce than others so the prices should be different. For example, orange is easy and should be cheap while rose is very difficult and should be expensive. 
  • Be cautious of companies that send their products to private individuals to sell to you. 
  • Some examples of companies that follow all these rules are Wyndmere, Mountain Rose Herbs, Plant Therapy, Aura Cacia, and Aethero. There are many more. Many whole foods stores also carry quality oils. 

Reviewed 9/2023

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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