Aromatherapy for an Aging Brain

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Image courtesy of Jonathan Cohen on flickr.com

Recently the town of Boulder, CO had a Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The disease is on the rise with nearly 44 million people worldwide suffering from Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. Current statistics show that 1-in-9 Americans over 65 has Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Aromatherapy doesn’t have a solution but essential oils can help our brain as it ages.

Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia which affects neurons in the brain causing problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Research has shown that certain essential oil use can help those diagnosed with dementia but could also be a possible preventative measure. Scientists studied the inhalation of lemon and rosemary essential oils in the morning for dementia patients. They found that all patients showed cognitive improvement and concluded that “aromatherapy may have some potential for improving cognitive function, especially in AD patients.” So, starting your day with diffused lemon or rosemary essential oil may assist your brain today and in the future.

An aspect of Alzheimer’s, called sundowner’s, presents at sunset and causes agitation, confusion and impaired brain function. Numerous case studies include aromatherapy applications to help curtail these symptoms. Bergamot, sweet orange and ylang ylang have all been used via diffusion or when applied to a pajama collar to lessen the severity of sundowner’s.

Studies also show that lavender essential oil reduced agitation and anxiety in dementia patients. When combined with lemon balm it forms a treatment to increase functional abilities and communication while decreasing difficult behavior. A moderate hand massage of the patient can be a way to introduce the oils into their care and calm them down. Add a drop of oil or blend to a teaspoon of unscented lotion and apply to your palms. Allow the patient to sniff your palms first, then gently massage their hand and arm in long, slow strokes. This activity can connect and relax both of you.

– I dedicate this post in loving memory of my father.