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Children’s Essential Oil Preferences – A Pilot Study

The effect of gender and ethnicity on children’s attitudes and preferences for essential oils: a pilot study. Fitzgerald M, Culbert T, Finkelstein M, Green M, Johnson A, Chen S.Integrative Medicine Program, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55404, USA. CONTEXT: Aromatherapy is frequently recommended for children but children’s preferences for specific essential oils [...]

The effect of gender and ethnicity on children’s attitudes and preferences for essential oils: a pilot study.

Fitzgerald M, Culbert T, Finkelstein M, Green M, Johnson A, Chen S.
Integrative Medicine Program, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55404, USA.

CONTEXT: Aromatherapy is frequently recommended for children but children’s preferences for specific essential oils are not well documented.

OBJECTIVE: To measure preferences of school aged children for essential oils based on gender and ethnicity.

DESIGN: Descriptive study measuring children’s responses to and preferences for selected essential oils.

SETTING: Pediatric integrative medicine clinic in a Midwestern children’s hospital.

PARTICIPANTS: Healthy school-age children of Latino (N = 39) and non-Latino Caucasian (NLC) (N = 48) ethnicity, 41.7% of the NLC group and 59.0% of the Latino Group were males.

INTERVENTION: Participants smelled single essential oils, answered three forced choice questions and one open ended question, order of exposure was varied.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Participants evaluated each scent’s effect on mood and energy, stated their preferences, indicated if scents evoked particular thoughts and selected a favorite essential oil.

RESULTS: Females were more likely to feel happy when smelling sweet orange (p = .043). Female Latinos were more likely than NLC females to find sweet orange calming (56.2% vs. 18.5%). Male Latinos were more likely (65.2%) to describe peppermint as “energetic” than male NLC (30%). Children chose an essential oil that they rated as “making them feel happy” (72.6%) and/or as “liking the most” (64.3%). Other results that approached statistical significance were: females felt more energetic with spearmint (p = .055). Latinos preferred spearmint over NLC (p = .075), and all males felt more energetic when smelling ginger (p = .091). Ginger and lavender were the least preferred. Results indicate that children have specific essential oil scent preferences. There is trend toward differences based on gender and ethnicity.

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