Posts tagged #aromatherapy

Aromatherapy for Dementia

Many elderly individuals receive little or no caring touch from others. Introducing massage and aromatherapy to this client group can improve the quality of life for both the client and those caring for them. The treatment can pass on feelings of comfort,security and safety. Using specifically chosen aromatherapy oils can enhance this giving deeper relaxation and assisting in insomnia, depression, confusion and anxiety.

Research into this area of work has been developing over recent decades. In the 1980s massage and later aromatherapy were introduced onto an elderly care ward at Churchill Hospital in Oxford. It was noted that patient's skin texture improved and tissue damage was reduced. The introduction of aromatherapy led to a reduction in sedative medication in the ward ( Price L, Price S (1999) Aromatherapy for health professionals.Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh).

Ballard et al (2002) studied the use of Melissa for elderly people with severe dementia and agitation. 72 people were randomly assigned to the aromatherapy group. They recieved massage with a base oil and melissa while the control group had base oil alone. The massage was performed twice daily on the faces and arms.  This was continued for four weeks. The results were positive: sixty percent of the Melissa group experienced a significant improvement in their agitation scores following treatment compared to 14% of the non melissa group. No negative side effects were noted.

The authors concluded that aromatherapy with  melissa was  safe and effective for individuals with severe dementia and clinically significant agitation. The study group was small and more research is needed before a treatment protocol could be developed but there is strong support for the use of this pleasant non invasive therapy. ( Ballard CG, et al. 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.The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. July 2002, Vol. 63 (7), pp 553-8. Caddy R 1997 Essential oils in colour.Amberwood Publishing Ltd, East Horsley)

Melissa oil has a sweet, fresh and citrus-like smell and is pale yellow in colour. Melissa oil is extracted from Melissa officinalis  is also known as lemon balm.This plant from the Mediterranean region and has small serrated slightly hairy leaves and small white-pink flowers.The flowers are very attractive to bees; the name 'Melissa' is the Greek word for honeybee. In the 14th century it was included in tonic water made by the French Carmelite nuns and Paracelsus (1493 - 1541) called this herb 'The Elixir of life' while John Evelyn (1620 -1706) described it as "sovereign for the brain, strengthening the memory, and powerfully chasing away melancholy".

Aromatherapy has been shown to be effective for other conditions experienced by older people such as insomnia, aches and pains and constipation. More research summaries into these areas will be explored in future posts.


Aromatherapy for anxiety

Many of us regularly use aromatherapy oils to help us relax.  We may add aromatherapy blends to our bath or use lavender spray in our bedrooms to aid sleep.

The calming powers of many essential oils have been used throughout history and across different cultures. An experiment in 2012 studied the effects of sweet orange aromatherapy oil on healthy people when placed in a stress inducing situation.  The 40 volunteers were required to perform a complicated test called the the Stroop test. I recall doing these when studying psychology at university and I can confirm they certainly do raise anxiety levels.

During the study a number of outcomes were measured to determine anxiety including heart rate. The volunteers who had inhaled sweet orange oil presented no significant increase in anxiety levels. The volunteers in the control group did display an increase in anxiety.

This research suggests that the use of appropriate aromatherapy oils can help to prevent anxiety in stress inducing situations. This would be very beneficial for many individuals. The study was small and more research is required but the results support the calming powers of certain essential oils.

Find out more about aromatherapy treatments at Breathe Holistic therapy Kidderminster: Aromatherapy.

Posted on August 21, 2013 .

Aromatherapy and Heart Patients

Patients with coronary heart disease often experience very high anxiety levels when admitted to hospital. research indicates that anxiety, stress and related insomnia significantly affect the efficacy of treatment for coronary heart disease.

A Korean study investigated the effects of aromatherapy on anxiety, blood pressure and sleep quality of patients undergoing procedures for coronary heart disease. The study involved 56 patients who were split into control or aromatherapy groups. the aromatherapy oils used were lavender ( reported to lower Blood pressure), roman chamomile ( to relieve anxiety and stress) and neroli ( to calm and ease insomnia).  Aroma stones were used to enable the patients to inhale the aromas prior to their procedure and during the night afterwards.

Anxiety, blood pressure and sleep quality measures were recorded. The results indicated that anxiety levels were significantly reduced in the aromatherapy group. The sleep quality was also improved while the control group reported significantly worse sleep.  The blood pressure of both groups remained comparative with no significant difference.

More reserach is needed but the authors concluded that aromatherapy could become a valuable part of care in hospital.

Find out more about aromatherapy treatments at Breathe Holistic therapy Kidderminster: Aromatherapy.