Although they’ve been used for centuries, essential oils have surged in popularity in the past few years. Their benefits range from stress relief and mental clarity to easing muscle aches and pains. Essential oils are considered a complementary therapy, which means they are used in addition to standard memory care, not in place of it.
Essential oils are not used to cure medical conditions, but rather to help improve symptoms. As is the case for many complementary or alternative therapies, there aren’t many well-designed studies looking at the benefits of essential oils for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, but there are several smaller studies that suggest the use of essential oils can improve symptoms like insomnia or anxiety with few to no side effects.
What is Aromatherapy?
Essential oils are most commonly related to the practice of aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is defined as the therapeutic application or the medicinal use of aromatic substances (essential oils) for holistic healing. Each essential oil has an array of unique healing properties, uses, and effects.
Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy, which means that it should not be the only source of medicine you should use for treatment. It can be combined with massage therapy, acupuncture, or regular standard medical treatments. If you are wanting to use essential oils in addition to your other treatment, you should always try to learn about the brand first before buying from them. For example, if you’re buying from Motive, you want to first read their reviews before buying from them. Reading reviews about Motive will let you know what their past customers have experienced with their essential oils.
Benefits of Essential Oils for Memory Care
Aromatherapy works by stimulating olfactory receptors that in turn stimulate the part of the brain that is linked to the regulation of emotions. It has been widely used to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. Now, many studies show that aromatherapy can benefit patients with dementia, like those with AD.
Some of the essential oils stimulate cognitive functioning and memory for patients with memory loss. In dementia, the hardest symptom to treat is agitation and aggression among patients. A study has found that essential oils, particularly lavender, bergamot, and lemon balm, can help calm the patient and suppress aggression, agitation, and other psychotic symptoms in patients with dementia.
Choosing the Right Essential Oils
When picking essential oils, it is important to make sure the oils are pure and natural. You should also do some research, if you are not going to see an aromatherapist, to figure out which oils would be best for you.
Some oils are more likely to have a beneficial effect than others, although personal preference always plays a role.
Lavender (Lavandula): It’s called the mother of all oils, in part because it’s usually well-received by most everyone, from children to older adults, because of its chemical makeup.
Several small studies have shown that lavender can help improve behavior and improve sleep in patients with dementia. It’s also been shown to help management of agitation, which can be a symptom of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis): This can be massaged into the skin or inhaled, and has shown benefits in reducing stress and anxiety. A placebo-controlled trial of people with severe dementia found that lemon balm improved agitation when applied as massage twice a day for four weeks with no significant side effects.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia): This essential oil is often used in men’s cologne and deodorant. It’s considered an earthy scent. Bergamot essential oil can be uplifting and is used in people who are tense, anxious, or depressed. Whether the scent is agreeable depends on the person’s individual preference.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale): Ginger essential oil is something that we offer our patients who are experiencing nausea. Many people drink ginger ale or eat ginger candy when they have an upset stomach.