Many massage therapists use aromatherapy in sessions, and aromatherapy has been shown to effect a variety of physical and psychological benefits, including stress relief and relaxation.

As the world’s population ages, age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, will rise. New research is underway to determine if aromatherapy using, specifically, Lavandula angustifolia (lavender), will ameliorate behaviors associated with dementia, including pacing, aggression and calling out.

“The agitated behaviors that accompany dementia are stressful to both nursing home residents and their carers and are difficult to treat,” the researchers noted in a report published on www.pubmed.gov. “The aim of the current study is to test the effectiveness of topically applied pure lavender oil in reducing actual counts of challenging behaviors in nursing home residents.”

The Australian researchers will use a blinded repeated measures design with random cross-over between lavender oil and placebo oi, the report noted. People with moderate-to-severe dementia and associated behavioral problems living in aged-care facilities will be included in the study.

Participants will be assigned in random order to lavender or placebo blocks for one week then switched to the other condition for the following week.

In each week the oils will be applied on three days with at least a two-day wash out period between conditions, the report noted. Trained observers will note presence of target behaviors and predominant type of affect displayed during the 30 minutes before and the 60 minutes after application of the oil.

“If our results show that the use of lavender oil is effective in reducing challenging behaviors in individuals with dementia, it will potentially provide a safer intervention rather than reliance on pharmacology alone,” the researchers noted.

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