March 2007: Aromatherapy for Alzheimer’s Disease
Preliminary controlled trials suggest, surprisingly, that a far milder treatment might help some cases. The use of scented oils, a method known as
In one interestingly designed, but very small, study published in 2002, a hospital ward was suffused with either lavender oil or water for two hours. An investigator who was unaware of the study’s design and who wore a device to block inhalation of odors entered the ward and evaluated the behavior of the 15 residents, all of whom had dementia. The results indicated that use of lavender oil aromatherapy modestly decreased agitated behavior.
A Chinese study published in 2007 supports these findings. In this trial, 70 people with severe dementia and a tendency toward agitation were given either lavender or a sunflower oil placebo to inhale for three weeks. At that point, the two groups were crossed over to the opposite treatment for an additional three weeks. The results indicated that use of lavender oil significantly decreased agitated behavior as compared to placebo.
Holmes C, Hopkins V, Hensford C, et al. Lavender oil as a treatment for agitated behaviour in severe dementia: a placebo controlled study. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry . 2002;17:305-308.
Lin PW, Chan WC, Ng BF, et al. Efficacy of aromatherapy ( Lavandula angustifolia ) as an intervention for agitated behaviours in Chinese older persons with dementia: a cross-over randomized trial. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry . 2007 Mar 7 [Epub ahead of print].
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