When it comes to treating Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia, you may never have considered aromatherapy. New studies suggest that alternative and holistic therapies such as aromatherapy may yield positive effects for those who suffer from the Alzheimer’s.
Aromatherapy is a treatment that uses essential oils extracted from plants to improve a person’s health, as well as their state of mind. It is a holistic type of healing that doesn’t use medications or synthetic products.
Although these treatments have been used for hundreds of years, there has been very little, if any, scientific proof that they work, but that is starting to change. New studies have begun to show that aromatherapy has a positive effect on patients with Alzheimer’s.
Aromatherapy and Alzheimer’s
In recent studies, researchers have seen positive signs that aromatherapy can help Alzheimer’s patients. In one open trial, patients seemed to sleep better at night, were less agitated, and reported a higher level of contentment and alertness when they had mandarin, lavender, and geranium applied to their skin.
In controlled studies, both lemon balm and lavender, when applied to the skin, decreased difficult behavior. Lavender oil had multiple positive effects, with its scent reducing agitation in Alzheimer’s sufferers, as well as producing a calming effect when applied to the skin.
As many Alzheimer’s patients have lost their sense of smell, there is some debate as to whether the oils need to be applied directly to the skin to have any effect or if using their aroma is enough.
Another study applied lemon and rosemary oils in the morning and orange and lavender in the evening for a period of 28 days. All of the patients demonstrated great improvement when it came to cognitive function. Also, there were no negative side effects. The overall conclusion from the study was that aromatherapy is an effective treatment for those with Alzheimer’s.
When used properly, essential oils have no negative side effects. This makes them a good choice when compared to many medications. In general, lavender is the safest oil to use, but the others are safe, as well, and there is likely less risk of adverse side effects than some antipsychotic drugs that may be prescribed to people dealing with dementia.
The Calming Effects of Lavender on Dementia Patients
Lavender, in particular, seems to help calm those with Alzheimer’s, and one chain of assisted living homes has taken note. Instead of reaching for medications to sedate their patients, they instead reach for lavender and other essential oils.
From putting lavender into the resident’s bathwater to spraying it on their pillows, it seems to be helping. Lavender has a natural calming effect that can help people sleep while citrus can provide energy during the day.
If an older loved one in your life is suffering from Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia, it might make sense to give aromatherapy a try. It is safe, and it could make a difference in your loved one’s life and — particularly if you’re a caregiver — yours, too.