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Aromatherapy and Dementia: Lavender and Melissa Essential Oils

These two studies show the efficacy of lavender and melissa essential oils for soothing agitated behavior for patients with dimentia. Study: The effect of lavender aromatherapy on cognitive function, emotion, and aggressive behavior of elderly with dementia. Lee SY, Department of Nursing, Kongju National University, Korea. PURPOSE: This study was to develop an aromatherapy hand [...]

These two studies show the efficacy of lavender and melissa essential oils for soothing agitated behavior for patients with dimentia.

Study: The effect of lavender aromatherapy on cognitive function, emotion, and aggressive behavior of elderly with dementia.

Lee SY, Department of Nursing, Kongju National University, Korea.

PURPOSE: This study was to develop an aromatherapy hand massage program, and to evaluate the effects of lavender aromatherapy on cognitive function, emotion, and aggressive behavior of elderly with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type. METHOD: The Research design was a nonequivalent control group non-synchronized quasiexperimental study. Lavender aromatherapy was administrated to experimental group I for 2 weeks, jojoba oil massage was administrated to experimental group II for 2 weeks, and no treatment was administrated to the control group for 2 weeks. Data was analyzed using the chi(2)-test, ANOVA, repeated measures of ANCOVA and ANCOVA in the SPSS program package. RESULT: 1. Experimental group I did not show significant differences in cognitive function in relation to the experimental group II and control group. 2. Experimental group I showed significant differences in emotion and aggressive behavior in relation to the experimental group II and control group. CONCLUSION: A Lavender aromatherapy hand massage program is effective on emotions and aggressive behavior of elderly with dementia of the Alzheimer’s type.

Study: Aromatherapy as a safe and effective treatment for the management of agitation in severe dementia: the results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with Melissa.

Ballard CG, O’Brien JT, Reichelt K, Perry EK. Wolfson Research Centre, Newcastle General Hospital, Institute for Ageing and Health, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.

BACKGROUND: Behavioral and psychological symptoms in dementia are frequent and are a major management problem, especially for patients with severe cognitive impairment. Preliminary reports have indicated positive effects of aromatherapy using select essential oils, but there are no adequately powered placebo-controlled trials. We conducted a placebo-controlled trial to determine the value of aromatherapy with essential oil of Melissa officinalis (lemon balm) for agitation in people with severe dementia. METHOD: Seventy-two people residing in National Health Service (U.K.) care facilities who had clinically significant agitation in the context of severe dementia were randomly assigned to aromatherapy with Melissa essential oil (N = 36) or placebo (sunflower oil) (N = 36). The active treatment or placebo oil was combined with a base lotion and applied to patients’ faces and arms twice a day by caregiving staff. Changes in clinically significant agitation (Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory [CMAI]) and quality of life indices (percentage of time spent socially withdrawn and percentage of time engaged in constructive activities, measured with Dementia Care Mapping) were compared between the 2 groups over a 4-week period of treatment. RESULTS: Seventy-one patients completed the trial. No significant side effects were observed. Sixty percent (21/35) of the active treatment group and 14% (5/36) of the placebo-treated group experienced a 30% reduction of CMAI score, with an overall improvement in agitation (mean reduction in CMAI score) of 35% in patients receiving Melissa balm essential oil and 11% in those treated with placebo (Mann-Whitney U test; Z = 4.1, p < .0001). Quality of life indices also improved significantly more in people receiving essential balm oil (Mann-Whitney U test; percentage of time spent socially withdrawn: Z = 2.6, p = .005; percentage of time engaged in constructive activities: Z = 3.5, p = .001). CONCLUSION: The finding that aromatherapy with essential balm oil is a safe and effective treatment for clinically significant agitation in people with severe dementia, with additional benefits for key quality of life parameters, indicates the need for further controlled trials.

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