By the time you finish reading this sentence, two people in the United States will have been diagnosed with dementia.1 Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.2 Sadly, many medical experts claim Alzheimer’s is the only disease on the top 10 leading causes of death that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed.
This just isn’t true. While there is truth to the research that shows pharmaceuticals are woefully ineffective at treating Alzheimer’s, natural treatments, such as meditation with essential oils, have shown positive results.
Dr. Rebecca Erwin Wells, a Harvard Medical School fellow, said, “We know that approximately 50 percent of people diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment – the intermediate stage between the expected declines of normal aging and the more serious cognitive deterioration associated with dementia – may develop dementia within five years. And unfortunately, we know there are currently no FDA-approved medications that can stop that progression.”3
While her comments are shocking, she’s simply saying that dementia cannot be stopped by any FDA-approved medication. While this is true, it’s important to note that pharmaceuticals are not the only option. There are natural remedies that are proven to treat Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Essential Oils And Dementia
There are about 100 billion nerve cells in the brain. When those cells are damaged, dementia occurs. Since these damaged cells can be anywhere in the brain, each person experiencing dementia has a slightly different experience.
But essential oils can help. For example, aromatherapy has shown to provide “significant improvement in personal orientation” for people suffering from dementia. In this study, patients, the majority of whom had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, were treated with rosemary and lemon aromatherapy in the morning and lavender and orange at night. These patients exhibited positive signs with no deleterious side effects.4
Unfortunately, research with dementia and essential oils is still limited. However, controlled clinical trials are underway.5 As I have said repeatedly, anecdotal case studies are important and they are being noticed more and more by researchers.
The Best Essential Oils For Brain Health
If you’re looking to prevent, reverse, or slow dementia, your best bet is to focus on exercise, calming the brain and maintaining a proper microfloral balance in your body.
In fact, studies have found that:
- Meditation and Yoga reduce brain atrophy, which is common in people with Alzheimer’s.
- Meditation builds protective tissue around our brain, protecting it against disease.
- Meditation helps increase gray matter and cortical thickness, effectively slowing down the brain’s aging rate. Cortical thickness is also associated with memory and decision-making skills.
- Meditation reduces stress hormones, such as cortisol, high levels of which make people susceptible to Alzheimer’s.
Essential oils can also help with many of these. For instance, frankincense, lavender, and chamomile are great essential oils for calming an overstimulated brain.
How To Use Essential Oils During Meditation
Here’s a quick overview of how to use oils during meditation:
- Diffuse the essential oil of your choice before bedtime and during the night to promote a good night’s sleep. Use 4-6 drops in a diffuser.
- Identify trigger points on your body and use calming oils to target specific areas throughout the day and night. Spots to target include temples, wrists, and behind the knees. It’s important to dilute these oils with a carrier oil to prevent skin irritation.
How To Use Essential Oils To Boost Exercise Performances
Essential oils are also commonly used to boost exercise performance. Here are a few ways to use your favorite oils to enhance your workout routines.
- Peppermint oil boosts energy and increases your oxygen capacity, which helps keep you moving during a vigorous exercise routine. It also helps in relieving muscle soreness and inflammation.
- Dilute your peppermint oil with a carrier oil and apply to the chest, back, and neck before your workout. This will help stimulate blood flow and open your airways.
- Peppermint oil, as well as wintergreen and fir oils, can also help tired, achy joints. These oils can reduce common pains that prevent people from exercise.
But what about oils that specifically treat dementia and Alzheimer’s?
How To Use Essential Oils For Dementia
Elaine Perry, a professor of Neurochemical Pathology at the Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle General Hospital, wrote a paper that highlighted the most pertinent research on this topic.6
In her paper, she points out the following:
- One trial found lavender improved sleep patterns in dementia patients who were currently receiving residential care.
- Massage therapy using lavender improved the moods and reduced anxiety in 122 non-demented patients in an intensive care unit.
- In one trial, dementia patients treated with lavender, geranium, and mandarin essential oils in an almond oil base were more content and had fewer sleepless nights. These 39 patients who were treated over an unknown period also experienced higher levels of alertness and contentment.
- Another trial on people with dementia using an assortment of essential oils, including ylang-ylang, patchouli, rosemary, peppermint, and others, proved a stark decrease in disturbed behaviors among patients, which resulted in a reduction in medication and treatment costs.
The results of a placebo-controlled study using lavender and a lemon balm called Melissa have shown incredible results in the treatment of patients with advanced dementia, including:
- A marked increase in the functional abilities and communication in six patients treated with lemon balm and lavender aroma. These patients also exhibited reduced behavior issues.
- A significant reduction in excessive motor behavior in 21 patients treated with lavender aromatherapy and massage.
- A significant reduction in agitated behaviors of 15 patients who were given lavender aroma oil as well as a placebo on alternate days for 10 days.
And, yet, what’s the most remarkable of all is that all these treatments had significant benefits for patients suffering from dementia, including reduced agitation, sleeplessness, and unsociable behavior.
When it comes to all of this research, it’s important to remember that a lot of it is still experimental. However, these results show much promise and should encourage you to try some of these techniques today!
|↑1||World Alzheimer Report 2015. Alzheimer’s Disease International.|
|↑2||Leading Causes of Death. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑3||Stress Reduction through Meditation May Aid in Slowing the Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.|
|↑4||Jimbo, Daiki, Yuki Kimura, Miyako Taniguchi, Masashi Inoue, and Katsuya Urakami. “Effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer’s disease.” Psychogeriatrics 9, no. 4 (2009): 173-179.|
|↑5||Aromatherapy. Alzheimer’s Society.|
|↑6||Perry, Robert H., Dorothy Irving, Garry Blessed, Andrew Fairbairn, and Elaine K. Perry. “Senile dementia of Lewy body type: a clinically and neuropathologically distinct form of Lewy body dementia in the elderly.” Journal of the neurological sciences 95, no. 2 (1990): 119-139.|