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Aromatherapy and dementia sufferers

Terri Anderson | 7 Minute Read

As caregivers, we want to do what we can to avoid using drugs until it’s necessary to help our loved ones who sufferers from a form of dementia. An alternative therapy that has been used for centuries is aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy uses plant oils, including essential oils like peppermint oil, lavender oil, or eucalyptus oil, for mental and physical well-being. Using aromatherapy to either energize or calm you would do the same thing for your loved one. Aromatherapy has proven to be useful for treating dementia symptoms like anxiety, sleep problems, and even memory and cognitive function without the side effects.

Smell plays a significant role in how essential oils may affect the body. When breathed in, these plant oils stimulate smell receptors in the nose that send chemical messages through nerves to the brain's limbic system, which affects moods and emotions, and may have some physiological effects on the body, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). (When used on the skin, the oils are absorbed into the bloodstream.)

Depending on what stage your loved one's dementia is there are different ways to use aromatherapy. If their still mobile, you can take your loved one to a spa, or you can give them a massage at home as touch is essential to those that have dementia. You can also spray some essential oils on their bed sheets or blankets. If they have difficulty wanting to eat maybe spray some grapefruit essential oil on a cloth before a meal.

Here are oils that have been shown to be effective in treating and, control some of the dementia symptoms:

  1. Lavender
    Lavender is thought to be calming. 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, used as a massage oil or sprayed on linens.
  2. Peppermint
    Peppermint is an energizer and stimulates your mind at the same time. Best used in the morning, peppermint oil can be inhaled directly, diffused in a room, used as a massage oil, sprayed in the air or even placed in a bath.
  3. Rosemary
    Like peppermint, rosemary can stimulate your mind. It may even improve cognitive performance and mood. Rosemary has also been known to ease constipation, symptoms of depression and reinvigorate the appetite. Rosemary oil can be directly inhaled, diffused through a room or used as a spray.
  4. Bergamot
    Bergamot can be used to lessen your stress levels. This mood-elevating and calming oil can also be used to relieve insomnia. To use bergamot oil, place a few drops in a bath, use as a massage oil, diffuse through a room or used clothing or linens by spraying it on.
  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 your anxiety and your 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. Yang 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 that suffer from restlessness. Ylang Ylang is often combined with lemon oil and can be placed in a bath, inhaled, diffused or sprayed.
  7. Ginger
    Ginger oil helps digestive 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.

It’s important to note that not all essentials oils are safe and you should consult a professional before practicing aromatherapy. If your loved one has high blood pressure, they should avoid stimulating essential oils, such as rosemary and lavender. If your loved one had severe asthma, and history of allergies should only use essential oils under the guidance of a trained professional and with full knowledge of your physician.

While there are currently no boards that certify or license aromatherapists in the United States, many professionals are members of professional organizations. To locate a qualified aromatherapist in your area, contact the National Association of Holistic Therapy at www.naha.org. Many aromatherapists are trained in some other form of therapy or healing system, such as massage or chiropractic, and include aromatherapy in their practice.

Have you tried aromatherapy? I like how medicine is going back to how we used to care for people in centuries past. Hey, they did something right. What are your thoughts on this? Let’s start the dialogue.

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Aromatherapy and dementia sufferers

Terri Anderson March 29, 2018

Brain & Memory > Dementia

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As caregivers, we want to do what we can to avoid using drugs until it’s necessary to help our loved ones who sufferers from a form of dementia. An alternative therapy that has been used for centuries is aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy uses plant oils, including essential oils like peppermint oil, lavender oil, or eucalyptus oil, for mental and physical well-being. Using aromatherapy to either energize or calm you would do the same thing for your loved one. Aromatherapy has proven to be useful for treating dementia symptoms like anxiety, sleep problems, and even memory and cognitive function without the side effects.

Smell plays a significant role in how essential oils may affect the body. When breathed in, these plant oils stimulate smell receptors in the nose that send chemical messages through nerves to the brain's limbic system, which affects moods and emotions, and may have some physiological effects on the body, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). (When used on the skin, the oils are absorbed into the bloodstream.)

Depending on what stage your loved one's dementia is there are different ways to use aromatherapy. If their still mobile, you can take your loved one to a spa, or you can give them a massage at home as touch is essential to those that have dementia. You can also spray some essential oils on their bed sheets or blankets. If they have difficulty wanting to eat maybe spray some grapefruit essential oil on a cloth before a meal.

Here are oils that have been shown to be effective in treating and, control some of the dementia symptoms:

  1. Lavender
    Lavender is thought to be calming. 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, used as a massage oil or sprayed on linens.
  2. Peppermint
    Peppermint is an energizer and stimulates your mind at the same time. Best used in the morning, peppermint oil can be inhaled directly, diffused in a room, used as a massage oil, sprayed in the air or even placed in a bath.
  3. Rosemary
    Like peppermint, rosemary can stimulate your mind. It may even improve cognitive performance and mood. Rosemary has also been known to ease constipation, symptoms of depression and reinvigorate the appetite. Rosemary oil can be directly inhaled, diffused through a room or used as a spray.
  4. Bergamot
    Bergamot can be used to lessen your stress levels. This mood-elevating and calming oil can also be used to relieve insomnia. To use bergamot oil, place a few drops in a bath, use as a massage oil, diffuse through a room or used clothing or linens by spraying it on.
  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 your anxiety and your 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. Yang 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 that suffer from restlessness. Ylang Ylang is often combined with lemon oil and can be placed in a bath, inhaled, diffused or sprayed.
  7. Ginger
    Ginger oil helps digestive 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.

It’s important to note that not all essentials oils are safe and you should consult a professional before practicing aromatherapy. If your loved one has high blood pressure, they should avoid stimulating essential oils, such as rosemary and lavender. If your loved one had severe asthma, and history of allergies should only use essential oils under the guidance of a trained professional and with full knowledge of your physician.

While there are currently no boards that certify or license aromatherapists in the United States, many professionals are members of professional organizations. To locate a qualified aromatherapist in your area, contact the National Association of Holistic Therapy at www.naha.org. Many aromatherapists are trained in some other form of therapy or healing system, such as massage or chiropractic, and include aromatherapy in their practice.

Have you tried aromatherapy? I like how medicine is going back to how we used to care for people in centuries past. Hey, they did something right. What are your thoughts on this? Let’s start the dialogue.