AN AROMATHERAPY OVERVIEW
by Jeanne Rose
for Aromatherapy Quarterly, Spring 1998 issue
January 23, 1998
Is it Alzheimer’s or just normal
thoughtlessness? Your grandmother doesn’t recognize you
and calls you by the name of your mother, which is her daughter.
Often she can not remember what she wants to say and will call her
elbow, a knee. Sometimes, she forgets how to write a check and she
is confused and repeats herself and often misplaces objects and
accuses a member of the family of stealing. Sometimes your
mother-in-law sees a beautiful piece of food such as a luscious
salad and thinks of it as an art object, something to take home and
looked at rather than eaten. Could this be Alzheimer’s disease?
Dr. Jerome Goldstein, MD
directs the San Francisco Alzheimer’s and Dementia Clinic and
states that a neurologist can indeed diagnose this incurable
memory-destroying disorder with 90-95% accuracy. What is needed is a
consultation with a neurologist and a battery of mental status
tests. The neurologist considers the medical history and current
symptoms as well as several factors that may predict the course of
the disease. These factors include:
Loss of skills - such
as the ability to perform or have interest in routine tasks.
Impaired judgment or lost interest in what was once interesting;
Personality change, an irritable person becomes complacent, a
quiet person becomes irritable, other changes include being
anxious, depressed, or restless;
Memory loss, impaired short-term memory, yet can remember events
that occurred many years ago, such as the father who talks to his
50 year old daughter as if she were 15 and discusses the
basketball game she is going to that actually happened 35 years
Confusion, loses track of time and events, forgets when to eat or
eats constantly because they forget they just ate, gets lost in
familiar places, repeats stories endlessly, misplaces objects,
forgets why they turned the oven on, forgets to bathe.
Besides the factors that predict the course of the disease there
are risk factors that include:
Age - the potential for developing the disease increases with age.
Family history - having a relative with Alzheimer’s disease or
Education level - Alzheimer’s is less common in people who have
completed more years of education.
Some of the tests that
Dr. Goldstein uses are: a test of cerebrospinal fluid that may
detect abnormal proteins that are found in Alzheimer’s patients
and other tests that can help rule out conditions that causes
confusion, including alcoholism, thyroid disease, psychiatric
disorders, stroke, cancer or head injuries.
How To Lower Your Risk. Alzheimer’s is a progressive
degenerative brain disorder and causes devastation to the patient
and to the family and caregivers as well. Impaired memory, behavior
and thinking are the most common symptoms and it usually strikes
people over 65 years of age. AD (Alzheimer’s Disease) currently
affects over four million Americans and according to the
Alzheimer’s Association, approximately fourteen million Americans
will develop the disease by the middle of the next century unless
preventative measures are found.
There is some research
that indicates that certain measures may help lower the risk of
developing AD and these are:
1. Take vitamin E. Taking high doses delays the progression of the
Vitamin E may help reduce the nerve cell damage says Creighton
Phelps, Ph.D., director of the NIAADRC program.
2. Take estrogen after menopause. According to a recent study of
more than 1100 post-menopausal women, taking estrogen
significantly lowers their risk of AD. Estrogen keeps brain cells
healthy and prevents them from dying. Taking estrogen for AD
prevention must be weighed against the possible increased risk of
breast cancer and uterine cancer.
3. Take NSAIDs. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs taken
instead of aspirin reduced the risk of AD by about 60% when
compared with those who don’t take them. This was found in a
recent John Hopkins School of Medicine/National Institute on Aging
Study of more than 1800 people.
4. Keep learning and keep studying. This may create extra
synapses, the region of the brain cells where nerve impulses that
are involved in memory and cognitive functions are transmitted.
Continue to do crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, word games,
practice memorization techniques, develop memory skills.
5. Don’t use aluminum pots and pans for cooking. This is a
controversial and unproved recommendation, but if it delays the
onset of AD it should be considered.
6. Use Aromatherapy and Music Therapy to stimulate the mind and
Ginkgo biloba found effective as a treatment. Ginkgo used for
5000 years for a variety of ailments may also be affective in
treating AD, improve mental functioning and the social behavior of
demented patients. A study in the Journal of the American Medical
Association published in October 22, 1997 published findings that
were the result of the first empirical clinical trial using
extract of Ginkgo. The results were that a particular extract of
Ginkgo, EGb appears to stabilize and improve the patient’s
functioning for periods of 6 months to one year, effectively
delaying the onset of AD by 6 months.
The Promise of
AROMATHERAPY for AD patients. AD is one of the most-horrible of
modern curse’s, an aspect of life for many hundreds of aging
parents, wives, husbands, lovers, friends. We live longer than our
brains can tolerate and they stop functioning. Consciousness dims ,
faculties are lost, once bright minds fade into a space and are lost
to friends and family, cursing the healthy to continue care and
attention to a beloved person who may no longer recognize the
How to Use
Aromatherapy for AD: forgetfulness, anger,
aggression, mood swings, confusion and combativeness.
Essential oils can be
used as blends (synergies) or simples where only one essential oil
is used for any occasion. These oils and blends will be mentioned
later in the this article. But here it would be well to review how
we can use these oils in various situations. Since AD patients can
either be at home or in a palliative care facility, you must
choose the method that will work best for your personal situation.
In a facility, nurses, doctors and aides simply may not have the
time to perform a full-body massage, but there may always be a
moment when a 30 second hand massage is adequate. Often the
caregiver may need to apply the essential oil to themselves, to
their own hands prior to touching a patient. In this way, the
magic of the essential oil will be transferred in a single touch.
You can breathe the essential oil straight from the bottle or
via the diffuser. You can apply a drop of essential oil to a
hankie and give it to the patient to hold and inhale as needed.
The EO can be applied to the collar of a pajama or to a pillow
or sheet. Clean scents such as Lemon EO can be diluted and
sprayed onto napkins at mealtime. Every time the patient’s
mouth is wiped, they will inhale the odor that you have chosen.
EO can be used via steam using a towel as a tent, especially
when there is respiratory trouble or congestion. Diffuser can be
electric, candles, or light rings. They are a wonderful way to
infuse your environment with stress-relieving or depression
relieving scent. Set the electric diffuser on a timer in the
patients room so that it emits scent at regulate intervals
throughout the day to coincide with the emotional state you are
treating. If a diffusing device is not available, small bottles
of synergies can be carried, to be inhaled from at any time.
Simply open the bottle, waft the bottle lightly under the nose
and inhale deeply. A drop of stress relieving blend can also be
placed on a hankie to be carried. At home, 3 drops of synergy
are placed in a pot of steaming water. Allow the steam to gently
play upon the face while inhaling.
2. Compresses. Moisten a handkerchief with warm water to
which has been added several drops of your essential oil. Wrap
loosely around the neck, for inhalation purpose or wrap around
the body part that needs attention. Some AD patients have very
dry skin and small cuts and scratched on their body. A compress
applied is a way to apply aromatherapy via both inhalation for
mental care and application for skin care.
3. Bath/Shower. Enhance the effects of the bath
experience by dimming the lights and lighting candles. You might
even warm the towels on a radiator, or place a few drops of the
chosen blend on the collar of the patient’s robe for
inhalation after the bath. Draw a bath of pleasantly warm water.
Add 2-5 drops of blend to the bath, swish the water to disperse,
soak at least 20 minutes. One may also dissolve 2-5 drops of
synergy in a 1/2 teaspoon of perfume alcohol for more complete
disbursement in the water. You may use aromatherapy in the
shower by palm blending 3 droops of EO plus 1/2 teaspoon carrier
oil together. While in the shower the blend may be used to apply
all over the body.
4. Lotion. 10 drops of synergy or single EO are added to
one ounce of unscented lotion. Carry the lotion with you for
on-the-spot relief to you or the client throughout the day.
Always keep the lotion close by. Remember to make the lotion
regularly in small batches rather than all at once so that the
EO can be changed to suit the condition.
5. Massage. Utilize the healing powers of touch as they
have been practiced for centuries. Simple self massage can be
used. Put the blend in your palms, rub them together and apply
around the nose, ears, neck, shoulders, arms. As Candace Welsh
says “make the nose-brain connection first”. For massage to
others put the blend in your palms, apply some under the
patients nose and then rub the mixture on the body. This is a
good time to learn a simple hand massage technique. Much can be
accomplished by gently massaging someone else’s arm in long
slow strokes from elbow to fingertips.
AromaHerbalist Jeanne Rose recommends the following essential
oils and blends for mental conditions.
- May be used for all these mental states including
– to soothe
Matricaria recutita (German Chamomile), Cananga
odorata (Ylang-Ylang #1)
Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary)
Citrus bergamia (Bergamot), Citrus
Pogostemon patchouli (Patchouli),
Salvia sclarea (Clary Sage), Citrus
Jasminum officinalis (Jasmine)
Salvia sclarea (Clary Sage)
Origanum majorana (Marjoram), Lavandula
angustifolia (Lavender), Cananga
odorata (Ylang-Ylang #1)
Picea mariana (Spruce), Pinus
or any Fir
Pelargonium graveolens (Geranium),
Cananga odorata (Ylang -Ylang),
spp. (Rose), Citrus
reticulata (Mandarin Orange), Mentha
x piperita (Peppermint)
, Nardostachys jatamansi (Spikenard)
Ocimum basilicum (Basil), Citrus
spp. Citrus oils, Citrus
aurantium (Neroli), Cymbopogon
Lavandula angustifolia (True Lavender), Bergamot,
Ylang-Ylang and Marjoram
Jasminum officinalis (Jasmine),
and Conifer oils
Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender), Pelargonium
graveolens (Geranium), Citrus
FOR MENTAL HEALTH & ALZHEIMERS
-Ylang x or #1
x or #1
drops to one ounce carrier oil for massage or undiluted into a bath
or into the diffuser.
oils to use for AD, a Basic Selection
The Good Old Days
Clear Thinking and Breathing
The above is a basic selection
of essential oils that will treat the symptoms of AD. Since every
patient is an individual, you may find that other oils will need to
be substituted or added to your repertory of EO. Those that can be
added are listed in the charts and include a calming oil such as
Petitgrain of Orange an Mandarin (leaf oil), an assertive oil such
as Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), a soothing confidence builder such
as Linden blossom, a meditative and aggression reducer such as
Frankincense, something to calm anger such as chamomiles, pure
happiness is Orange peel, joy can be induced by Mimosa, all types of
anxiety can be smoothed by Bergamot, confusion can be cleared by
This overview of AD can be
supplemented by writing to the organizations listed in the Sources
as well as looking in your local phone book for an organization or
aid society near you.
All rights reserved 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006. No part of this article may
1. Dr. Jerome Goldstein, MD, San Francisco Alzheimer’s and
Dementia Clinic at (415) 673-4600; 909 Hyde St., Ste. 230, San
Francisco, CA 94109
2. Zaven Khachaturian, Ph.D., director of the Alzheimer’s
Association’s Ronald & Nancy Reagan Research Institute in
3. NIAADRC is National Institute on Aging & Alzheimer’s
Disease Research Centers Program.
4. ROSA. Resource Organization for Scent & Aromatherapy, 219
Carl St., San Francisco, CA 94117. Aromatherapy kits and education.
1. LifeTimes, Autumn 1997 c/o CHW West Bay, 1900 Sullivan Ave. Daly
City, CA 94015-2200.
2. Women’s Day, 9/1/97. ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE, How to Lower Your
Risk by Maureen P. San Georgio
3. Remedy, July/August 1997. PARTING THE CLOUDS OF ALZHEIMER’S by
4. NNFA TODAY, November 1997, Vol 11, No. 10, call 800/548-9362.
5. Rose, Jeanne and Susan Earle, editor. THE WORLD OF AROMATHERAPY,
Frog, 1996 see the article entitled “Memory loss and Alzheimer’s
Disease” by Deanna Wolf. 219 Carl Street, San Francisco, CA 94117.
6. Rose, Jeanne. The Aromatherapy Studies Course. 1998. A variety of
charts and graphs are listed with essential oil usage.
7. Alternative Health Practitioner, Vol. 3, No. 1, Spring 1997.
Three Essential Oils for the Medicine Cabinet by Candace Welsh.
8. HERBS IN THE NEWS, Herbs Research Foundation. vol. 2, No.3 1997.
St, Ste 200 Boulder, CO 80302.
be used without prior permission from Jeanne Rose.
© Authors Copyright Jeanne Rose,