Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Alzheimer's, dementia and essential oils: scientific studies

Below, we have summarized some research involving individuals with dementia or Alzheimer's and essential oils. To read some stories about how individuals have been supported by essential oils, click here.

Lavender essential oil

The International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry reports two studies using essential oils to calm agitated patients with dementia.  A placebo-controlled study that involved 15 patients in Canada reported that lavender had a modest efficacy in the treatment of agitated patients with dementia (Holmes et al. 2002), while a placebo-controlled cross-over study that was conducted in China with 70 patients reported a “significant decrease in agitated behavior” (Lin et al. 2007). 

Holmes C, Hopkins V, Hensford C, et al. 2002. Lavender oil as a treatment for agitated behaviour in severe dementia: a placebo controlled study. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 17:305-308. 

Read powerpoint presentation summarizing the results of Lin et al. (2007) here.

Rosemary, lemon, lavender and orange essential oils

28 days of aromatherapy consisting of the use of rosemary and lemon essential oils in the morning, and lavender and orange essential oils in the evening, resulted in significant improvement in personal orientation related to cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients.

Daiki Jimbo, Yuki Kimura, Miyako Taniguchi, Masashi Inoue, Katsuya Urakami. Effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Psychogeriatrics. 2009 Dec. 9(4):173-9. PMID: 20377818.

Melissa essential oil

In a double-blinded randomized placebo controlled experiment, at four months, Melissa officinalis extract produced a significantly better outcome on cognitive function than placebo (ADAS-cog: df = 1, F = 6.93, p = 0.01; CDR: df = 1, F = 16.87, p < 0.0001). There were no significant differences in the two groups in terms of observed side effects except agitation, which was more common in the placebo group (p = 0.03).

Akhondzadeh et al. concluded that Melissa officinalis extract is of value in the management of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease and has a positive effect on agitation in such patients.

S Akhondzadeh, M Noroozian, M Mohammadi, S Ohadinia, A Jamshidi, and M Khani Roozbeh. 2003 Melissa officinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease: a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled trial. Journal of Neurological and Neurosurgical Psychiatry 74(7): 863–866. 

More reading:
  • An article entitled "Aromatherapy for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease" summarizes additional scientific studies about this topic. The scientific studies involved lavender, lemon balm (melissa), marjoram, patchouli and vetiver. Read more here.
    • "What is remarkable is that all treatments resulted in significant benefit, including (in most instances) reductions in agitation, sleeplessness, wandering and unsociable behaviour."
  • An article in the Alternative Daily states that lavender, rosemary, lemon balm (aka melissa), ylang ylang, bergamot and peppermint essential oils can support individuals with dementia. Read more here.
  • This article recommends the same 6 essential oils, in addition to ginger essential oil. Read more here.