Can aromatherapy help dementia sufferers and their care people?

I asked myself this question as I struggled to find ways to sooth and comfort my mother who suffers from this dreaded condition. To complicate, many years back she lost her sense of smell. Could essential oils help? To my delight, I discovered the answer is yes (scientifically proven*) and now, backed up by my own personal experience.  

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​​I read how clinical studies have shown a reduction in agitation and better sleep for dementia sufferers through use of essential oils so I was keen to try.
 
So how do essential oils help? Essential oils consist of many naturally occurring chemical constituents referred to as the plants life force. They enhance homeostasis of our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual levels of well being.   
 
They enter our system through our nose, skin, mouth (to stomach) and lungs. Tiny essential oil particles are drawn into the nose. Then through our amazing, complex nervous system, messages are transmitted up to the limbic system of our brain where memory and emotions are controlled. Signals conveyed affect digestive, sexual and behavioral systems of body.
 
Scents have the ability to act as a trigger and can help people remember past experiences. Ever smelt baking and been reminded of a favourite past experience? Or maybe the scent of a Daphne bush or favourite rose reminds you of your grandmother?
 
Our brain registers aroma twice as fast as it does pain. This is why the inhalation of aromas can so powerfully transform our emotions. Smell is the only sense that bypasses the blood brain barrier to the central nervous system. This can be working when you are unaware or unconscious.   
 
Via our skin, particles enter our blood stream, reaching organs and tissues organs with time to absorb ranging from 20 minutes to several hours with the effects lasting up to several days. Likewise through our breath, then into our blood stream to be taken around body – eucalyptus inhalation is a well know example.
 
Effects are many. Oils may be relaxing, uplifting, an anti-depressant, bring about positive thinking and well being, relieve stress and anxiety to name a few. They can also increase circulation, lower or raise blood pressure, assist with lymphatic drainage, muscle tension or change appetite plus much more.

So back to my question – did the use of essential oils help? Firstly I made up a specific blend for mum in a hand cream including Melissa, Geranium and Roman Chamomile which I chose for their calming, harmonizing and soothing properties. The cream not only feeds her skin, but the therapeutic properties of the oils are absorbed into her bloodstream.  Next I offer mum a massage when I visit with an aromatherapy synergy blend. This helps to calm the nervous system, eases bodily aches and pains and importantly fills the space if conversation is not flowing. There is no need to talk, we are simply “being” and connecting. The therapeutic benefits of the oils are many and are helpful for me also as the journey of life continues to unfold for us both.  

If you’d like to know more about Aromatherapy and how it may help you, contact Robin today.

This is generalised information only, please consult a qualified Aromatherapist for a personalised plan specific to your situation. Never stop taking your medication without first seeking medical advice.
 
NOTE: Some essential oils can interfere with medications such as St. John’s Wort or Grapefruit.
 
* Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, Price, Shirley and Len 


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