Aromatherapy (essential oil therapy) has a role in treating Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
Waterloo, ON (PRWEB) July 13, 2012
Aromatherapy goes beyond smell and the scientific community is taking an interest. Research has been completed by King's College and the University of Northumbria in the UK and the University of Calabria in Italy. Although essential oils have been used to treat a variety of conditions for a century, there are many skeptics. Anecdotal evidence is not enough for some and scientific research is needed to validate this field. More and more research is being done on the benefits of essential oil therapy.
Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disease of the brain, which causes thinking and memory to become seriously impaired. It is the most common form of dementia. Dementia is a syndrome consisting of a number of symptoms that include loss of memory, judgment and reasoning, and changes in mood, behaviour and communication abilities.
There has been research to support the use of essential oils for aiding with cognitive function, agitation, behavioural issues, aggressiveness, memory enhancement and mood. Essential oils such as rosemary, peppermint and lemon are known to enhance memory and alertness. Oils such as lavender, orange and ylang ylang are known for their sedative, calming and antidepressant properties. To increase alertness, Aromatic Health recommends oils such as rosemary, basil, peppermint and lemon. Oils to aid with sleep and restlessness include lavender, Roman chamomile, neroli and mandarin.
Research has also shown that although there is an olfactory dysfunction in people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the loss of one’s sense of smell does not affect the essential oils effectiveness, as they work at a physiological level. The oils are inhaled through, and absorbed by the lungs and through the skin, and are effective due to their chemical make up. It is believed that the loss of smell may be an early sign of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
One of the most popular essential oils, and one shown to be beneficial with Alzheimer’s, is lavender. A hand massage with lavender essential oil has shown to help with emotions and reduce aggressive behaviour in elderly with Alzheimer’s type dementia.
In another study, lavender and orange were used in the evening, and rosemary and lemon used during the day with 28 patients with dementia, of which 17 had AD. All patients showed significant improvement in orientation related to cognitive function. Laboratory tests after this study showed that there were no side effects with the use of aromatherapy.
Acetylcholinesterase, aka AChE, is the main target for many drugs to treat AD and dementia. AChE is an enzyme, which degrades the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Thyme essential oil and its compounds, thymol, linalool and carvacrol, were found to inhibit AChE.
In a placebo controlled, double blind study, sage and Spanish sage have shown to increase the speed of memory and enhance mood. An earlier study showed that Spanish sage inhibits the enzyme acetylcholinesterase (AChE). Black pine has also shown to have AChE and butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) inhibitory activity.
Another placebo controlled trial with lemon balm was conducted in a health care facility to assess treatment for agitation in patients with severe dementia. Sixty percent of the active group showed a 30% decrease of their CMAI agitation (Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory) score.
Some people who suffer from AD and other forms of dementia, experience Sundowner’s Symdrome, named so as these confusion symptoms appear after "sundown." These symptoms can include restlessness, wandering, depression, agitation and hallucinations. Many of the essential oils mentioned can be used to aid with these symptoms.
Applications, which have been used successfully in nursing homes and at home, include inhalation of the essential oil, a room spray made with the appropriate hydrosols, use of the essential oils in a diffuser, adding a few drops to a bath or onto a pillow and a custom made inhaler for personal use. As more research and clinical trials are completed, aromatherapy will become more recognized as an accepted and evidence based alternative to pharmaceutical drugs.
Michelle Reynolds founded Aromatic Health in 2003, after seeking alternatives to help heal common ailments and natural skin care products. Aromatic Health focuses on the benefits of clinical aromatherapy, or essential oil therapy.
At Aromatic Health, all products are hand made, using only pure and organic essential oils and raw ingredients. All products are cruelty free and do not contain synthetic fragrances, parabens, petrochemicals or preservatives. Their product lines include Aromatherapeutic, Mother & Child, Skin Care and Gift Sets.
To learn more about Aromatic Health and their products, visit http://www.aromatichealthshop.ca, call 519-498-9851, or email info(at)aromatichealth(dot)ca.
Michelle Reynolds, Aromatic Health's sole proprietor, is a resident of Waterloo, ON.