Essential oils used as therapeutic tools in the classroom

Riley Johansen | Staff Writer

Mason High School’s staff and students have sniffed out a new way to help relieve stress and distraction in the classroom.

Essential oils are naturally found in bark, seeds, flowers, and more found in plants and have been used in food, beauty products, and health care for a long time because of their mental and physical benefits. However, the use of these oils is now becoming increasingly popular in the households of students and teachers along with their classrooms at MHS.

Former Mason Middle School teacher and supervisor of the Special Education department at Sycamore Christina Layton has been using essential oils for over two years along with researching how they work and new ways to incorporate them into her and her family’s daily life, which eventually integrated into her classroom setting as well. Layton says since she has began to use the oils she has noticed major changes in her households’ health and mindset and found ways they could help her students as well.

“The byproduct (of using essential oils) is that my son stopped needing his inhaler,” Layton said. “I’ve noticed that my kids aren’t sick as much, if ever, because everything I do has oils from plant based products to help fight germs and build the immune system. I even noticed that there were certain blends that I could do for my kids when they were doing homework, and homework time wasn’t as big as of struggle anymore. In the classroom it was kind of the same thing, with research that supported when there is a type of aroma that you have in the classroom when teaching a subject, (when there’s the) the same aroma when you’re testing there’s a better recall.”

Layton also says that the driving factor behind her interest in essential oils was learning how they benefit you on a cellular level.

“The whole reason essential oils work is that the plant cells in them are the most closely related to our human cells as compared to synthetic or man-made substances,” Layton said.  “I think learning for me how they work with the body and how the cells interact with one another and talk to each other within the body, the science behind it is the most interesting thing about them.”

AP Language and Composition teacher Lori Roth has found very similar results when using them in her classroom as well. Roth values the benefits they provide as well as the support that the students receive from knowing that their teacher is trying to provide a way to manage their stress.

“I think it adds a comforting environment to the classroom and makes it more homey,” Roth said.  “It doesn’t feel so much like a classroom, it feels more inviting. The kids know that you care about the fact that they are worked up or worried and that you are trying to inspire them in another way, so they know you are constantly thinking about what they need.”

Roth’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by her students. Junior Emma Etherington says that she finds the presence of essential oils in her classroom calming and makes the room feel more open.

“I find that the most stressful classes have diffusers and essential oils in it,” Etherington said.  “I would say (they’re beneficial) because the aroma in the room is noticeably different, it’s not as stuffy or gross in the room. Especially since that class had 50 people in it, I didn’t feel as claustrophobic because of the fresh air in there.”

Essential oils are proven to have benefits in and out of the classroom for parents, students and  teachers. Despite the plethora of advantages coupled with essential oils, there are still skeptics. Layton says that people who still aren’t sure about using them should stay in their comfort zone and give them a try for a little while to truly see the benefits.

“I always tell people to give it a try, and I tell those that are skeptical that they should stay in their comfort zone,” Layton said. “I’d say just try one thing that you want to focus on, and think about one thing at a time. I don’t think I’ve ever had a single person say that they were completely uninterested after giving it a try.”