Alzheimer’s disease is the most common disease leading to the symptoms of dementia. These symptoms include loss of memory, language skills, judgment, social skills and other functions of the brain to the point that the loss interferes with a person’s normal functioning. A person may exhibit changes in mood and social behavior with dementia. Loss of memory alone is not regarded as dementia but rather when there is a loss of at least two of the major brain functions.
The cause of Alzheimer’s is not clearly understood but advanced age, family history, and some gene combinations increase the risk of having Alzheimer’s. Recent research also links Alzheimer’s with nutritional deficiencies. Other factors that are believed to lead to higher risk is prolonged high blood pressure and head injuries. The incidence is higher among females.
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease wherein the neurons in the brain are damaged or die and as the disease progresses more brain cells degenerate and hence a steady advance in the symptoms if left unchecked. The phases and symptoms are:
MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment)
- Short term memory loss
- Difficulty in multitasking
- Slow in solving more difficult tasks
Early AD (Alzheimer’s Disease)
- Forgetting names of common objects
- Misplacing items
- Forgetting places and routes
- Difficulty in social settings
- Not interested in previous hobbies or activities
- Difficulty with previously understood task
- Forgetting current events and personal history
- Difficulty reading or writing
- Misuse or forget words
- Unusual sleep patterns
- Withdrawing socially, depression, agitation
- Unusual or violent behavior
- Not able to understand conversations or instructions
- Not recognizing family or close acquaintances
- Difficulty with basic tasks such as eating, dressing, etc.
- Incontinence or swallowing problems
[search helps: AD, mild cognitive impairment, MCI, Alzeimer’s, Altheimer’s, Alzeimers, Altheimers, Alzheimer, Alzhiemer’s]
Please note: The information provided below is a compilation of suggestions made by those that have used essential oils and has NOT been scientifically verified with clinical tests nor reviewed by medical experts. It is anecdotal information and should be treated as such. For serious medical concerns please seek professional medical attention.
Essential Oils to Use:
Oils: Frankincense, Lavender, Melissa, Patchouli, Peppermint, Rosemary, Ylang Ylang
Also consider: Basil, Cassia, Cinnamon, Clove, Cypress, Helichrysum, Marjoram, Myrrh, Oregano, Sandalwood
Basic health and prevention:
Use Vitamins and Frankincense. Apply 1 to 3 drops of the oil topically to the brain stem (back of neck) twice daily.
To help with depression and sleep:
Diffuse a calming blend of oils or Lavender. Give a massage blend of oils (Lavender, Frankincense, Ginger, with a carrier oil such as coconut oil) weekly or more often if possible.
For agitation and depression:
1 – 2 drops of Melissa and/or Frankincense on brain stem, bottoms of feet, roof of mouth, or under the tongue.
To improve cognitive impairment:
1 – 2 drops of Patchouli on brain stem, bottoms of feet, roof of mouth, or under the tongue.
Experiences & Testimonials
Please note: The information provided below is a compilation of the experiences of others who have used essential oils and has NOT been scientifically verified with clinical tests nor reviewed by medical experts. It is anecdotal information and should be treated as such. For serious medical concerns please seek professional medical attention.
Stacy – Has anyone had any experience with Alzheimer’s? My friend’s father has been diagnosed with it.
Kathy – Neurological diseases are very complex and come with a wide range of underling causes, triggers and varying disorders. It is definitely one of those issues where you can’t say that what is good for Johnny is good for Sally. You need to be patient, experiment, use intuition, divine guidance, and consistency.
With that in mind, I can give you a range of essential oils that I have personally found successful on some level of success in stabilizing the various issues of associated with Alzheimer’s. It will be up to you after that.
Most useful has been the use of Frankincense and Peppermint. Nothing has been better than using these as a blend to help clarify the mind and to calm fear, anger, and emotions of confusion. Diffusion of these oils, inhaling the blend or even having a bottle of water nearby with a drop of each, and hydration often has shown as very effective. Sometimes Rosemary can be exchanged for Peppermint so the body does not grow tired of the blend.
Incorporate the oils mentioned above as well as a grounding blend of oils, Helichrysum, Ylang Ylang and Clove (hot so dilute with coconut oil). Also consider daily topical application of Frankincense to the brain stem, the crown chakra, key reflex points, and the bottoms of the feet. At night to reduce sleeplessness and dread dreams, diffuse a calming blend of oils.
Diet and nutrition are each very important. Vitamin supplements should be encouraged. Some other oils to consider are Basil, Helichrysum, Oregano, Marjoram, Lavender, Cinnamon or Cassia and Cypress.
Also incorporate kind touch, loving patience, pleasant interaction, and prayer.
BK – Great advice Kathy Dawson. I wanted to add, Stacy, that Frankincense contain sesquiterpenes which enable it to pass the blood-barrier which is important and necessary for aiding Alzheimer’s. Sesquiterpenes also increase the number of certain receptors in the brain that make it ideal for help with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and schizophrenia. I would also include Myrrh among the oils that Kathy listed as possible singles that might help. But for sure use Frankincense everywhere, and often. Especially cranially, on the bottom of the feet, and internally.
Kristi – I know Frankincense is so good for Alzheimer’s, but recently gave some to my aunt to try on her husband, she said he seemed to get more agitated. She had to give him a calming blend of oils to calm him down. I was thinking it could have been a little too stimulating on it’s own, but maybe mixed with Lavender, or Ylang Ylang, or a calming blend each time, might be better in his case. Any experiences out there, are welcome.
Leah – How about a grounding blend of oils, since that has Frankincense in it.
Carol – You may want to try Melissa on the back of the neck and diffuse Rosemary.
Janyce – My Mom has advanced Alzheimer’s disease. She had gotten to the point where she was sitting or lying down with her eyes closed all the time and would open them when spoken to. She wasn’t recognizing my brother any more for maybe 6 months. She had to be prompted to eat, was not socializing, was weak and unsteady on her feet.
In March we started her on Vitamin supplements. Within days, the staff were saying, you know – she seems to be doing better. Each week we have watched her improve – with much delight! After 2 weeks she recognized my brother and with a huge smile on her face said, Oh Wow! I haven’t seen you in so long! I asked her how she was and she said, “Fine”, I said you are? She said, “yes – VERY GOOD!” we were grinning from ear to ear! The following week she was strong in her legs and we didn’t have to support her to walk. She was no longer closing her eyes, she was trying to talk and she was going to the social hall.
Now, 3.5 months later, with only 1/2 dose per day, she is having great days. She is playing bingo, eating better, strong in her body, talking, interested in working her word-find puzzles, recognizing my brother, whew! Last Sunday, she even had communion at the church service! And we are all so delighted at the positive changes that have taken place, with only adding the vitamins to her routine.
If I were able to get her doctor to authorize an oil, I would give her Frankincense on the back of the skull a couple of times per day, and I would also love to give her the GI Cleansing Formula and Probiotic Defense Formula. Get rid of any candida, etc. Many blessings to all of you caregivers out there. This is not an easy one.
Jeanette – What a wonderful testimony! May your mother continue to be well and happy! I’m in my middle years had a great check up with a natural health practitioner who ran a test on me for minerals and nutrients and she could not believe how high my levels were! I take vitamins and would not be without it! I intend to pass into the next life worn out from living – not from some invading disease! I’m so glad (…) found ME!
Lauri – I love coconut oil and use it regularly, daily I use it as my moisturizer. I have read that it helps Alzheimer’s Patients.
ReNay – Just put drops of oil in a capsule and take them internally.
Ginny – A newsletter I get discussed an Alzheimer’s study in Hawaii that showed that about half of those that were diagnosed actually did not have Alzheimer’s (based on autopsy). The author further discusses vitamin deficiency as the cause of the dementia. At any rate I thought I’d share it because to me it further supports using vitamins in treatment for Alzheimer’s and dementia.
What Science & Research are saying
Essential oils to calm Alzheimer’s patients
The International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry reports two studies using essential oils to calm agitated Alzheimer’s patients. One study of 15 patients in Canada seems to report modest success while the other (2007) in China with 70 patients reports “significant decrease in agitated behavior”. The latter was a placebo/Lavender controlled test over a three-week period with one half the group given Lavender and the other the placebo. After three weeks the groups were reversed and the test continued for another three weeks.
- Holmes C, Hopkins V, Hensford C, et al. Lavender oil as a treatment for agitated behaviour in severe dementia: a placebo controlled study. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry . 2002;17:305-308.
- Lin PW, Chan WC, Ng BF, et al. Efficacy of aromatherapy ( Lavandula angustifolia ) as an intervention for agitated behaviours in Chinese older persons with dementia: a cross-over randomized trial. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 2007 Mar 7.
Should nursing take aromatherapy more seriously?
British Journal of Nursing, 16, (2), 116-120. Buckle, J. (2007).
This article discusses the expansion of aromatherapy within the U.S. and follows 10 years of developing protocol and policies that led to pilot studies on radiation burns, chemo-induced nausea, slow-healing wounds, Alzheimers and end-of-life agitation. This article outlines pilot studies, carried out in the U.S. by nurses, that subsequently led to the integration of aromatherapy in hospitals.
Melissa in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s
Journal of Neurological and Neurosurgical Psychiatry. 2003 July; S Akhondzadeh, M Noroozian, M Mohammadi, S Ohadinia, A Jamshidi, and M Khani Roozbeh Psychiatric Hospital, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
Melissa officinalis extract in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled trial.
Objective: To assess the efficacy and safety of Melissa officinalis extract using a fixed dose (60 drops/day) in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
Design: A four-month, parallel group, placebo controlled trial undertaken in three centres in Tehran, Iran. Methods: Patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease aged between 65 and 80 years (n = 42; 18 women, 24 men) with a score of ≥ 12 on the cognitive subscale of Alzheimer’s disease assessment scale (ADAS-cog) and ≤ 2 on the clinical dementia rating (CDR) were randomized to placebo or fixed dose of Melissa officinalis extract. The main efficacy measures were the change in the ADAS-cog and CDR-SB scores compared with baseline. Side effects were systematically recorded. Results: At four months, Melissa officinalis extract produced a significantly better outcome on cognitive function than placebo (ADAS-cog: df = 1, F = 6.93, p = 0.01; CDR: df = 1, F = 16.87, p < 0.0001). There were no significant differences in the two groups in terms of observed side effects except agitation, which was more common in the placebo group (p = 0.03).
Conclusions: Melissa officinalis extract is of value in the management of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease and has a positive effect on agitation in such patients.
Nutritional deficiencies in Alzheimer’s patients
McCaddon, A., Davies, G., Hudson, P., Tandy, S. and Cattell, H. (1998), Total serum homocysteine in senile dementia of Alzheimer type. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 13: 235–239. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-1166(199804)13:4<235::AID-GPS761>3.0.CO;2-8
Objective. The main hypothesis was that subtle vitamin B12 deficiencies occur more commonly in senile dementia of Alzheimer type (SDAT) than in healthy elderly individuals, and may be revealed by elevated total serum homocysteine (tHcy). A subsidiary hypothesis was that such deficiencies would be nutritionally independent as determined by retinol binding protein (RBP).
Results. Patients had a highly significant elevation of tHcy compared with controls (p<0·0001). Multiple regression highlighted the interrelated effects of tHcy and total serum cobalamin on cognitive scores. RBP did not differ between groups. Macrocytosis was absent, and neutrophil hypersegmentation uncommon, in hyperhomocysteinaemic patients.
Conclusions. SDAT patients have significantly elevated tHcy. This is independent of RBP determined nutritional status. ‘Classical’ haematological changes of cobalamin or folate deficiency are poor predictors of tHcy in these patients. Aberrant cobalamin tissue delivery appears to contribute to SDAT cognitive decline. Relative contributions of other tHcy determinants require further investigation. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.