Aromatherapy and Dementia, there is a connection. Aromatherapy isn’t just good for reducing anxiety, but it is also effective at easing certain symptoms of dementia/Alzheimer’s.
What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is an ancient practice in which essential oils from plants, herbs, flowers, and trees are used to improve the mental, spiritual, and physical well-being of patients. Essential oils are used by inhalation or application to the skin.
Aromatherapy has been widely used because of the known health benefits of essential oils. These essential oils have been used to reduce pain, promote relaxation, and relieve the symptoms of many diseases.
Essential oils used in aromatherapy are typically extracted from various parts of plants and then distilled. The highly concentrated oils may be inhaled directly or indirectly or applied to the skin through massage, lotions or bath salts. Aromatherapy is thought to work by stimulating smell receptors in the nose, which then send messages through the nervous system to the limbic system — the part of the brain that controls emotions.
How does it work for Dementia/Alzheimer’s care?
Some of the essential oils stimulate cognitive functioning and memory for patients with memory loss. In dementia, the hardest symptom to treat is agitation and aggression among patients. A study has found that essential oils, particularly lavender, bergamot and lemon balm, can help calm the patient and suppress aggression, agitation, and other psychotic symptoms in patients with dementia.
Essential Oils That May Help Those Living with Dementia
Here are oils that have been shown to be effective in treating and controlling different symptoms of dementia:
Lavender is thought to be calming and able to balance strong emotions. It has also been used to help with depression, anger and irritability, and can help in some cases of insomnia. Lavender can be directly inhaled or sprayed on linens.
Peppermint is an energizer and can be used to stimulate the mind and calm nerves at the same time. Best used in the morning, peppermint oil can be inhaled directly, diffused in a room, sprayed in the air or even placed in a bath.
Similar to peppermint, Rosemary is an uplifting oil used to stimulate the mind and body. It may even improve cognitive performance and mood. Rosemary has also been known to ease constipation, symptoms of depression and also reinvigorate the appetite. Rosemary oil can be directly inhaled, diffused through a room or used as a spray.
Bergamot can be used to relive anxiety, agitation, mild depression and stress. This mood elevating and calming oil can also be used to relieve insomnia. To use bergamot oil, place a few drops in a bath, diffuse through a room or use a spray on clothing or linens.
5. Lemon Balm
While lemon oil may be among the more expensive oils, it is also one of the most studied and more effective oils. It has been shown to help calm and relax people who are dealing with anxiety and insomnia, improve memory and ease indigestion. Lemon oil can be dropped into a bath, inhaled directly, diffused, sprayed or applied directly to the skin as a massage oil
6. Ylang Ylang
Ylang Ylang oil can help ease depression while also promoting good sleep. This is a great oil not only for a person living with Alzheimer’s, but also for caregivers struggling with restlessness and lack of sleep. Ylang Ylang is often combined with lemon oil and can be placed in a bath, inhaled, diffused or sprayed.
Ginger oil is helpful for anyone struggling with digestion issues. Commonly used to treat a loss of appetite and constipation, ginger can help promote good eating habits. Ginger oil can be applied directly to the skin as an abdominal massage, inhaled, diffused, sprayed or placed on a compress.
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