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Essential oils and dementia

Can there be an aromatherapy plan to help ease the symptoms for dementia patients? What does the research say?

Aromatherapy with essential oils of chamomile, lavender, marjoram and rosemary can significantly reduce agitated behavior in AD patients (Ayaz et al., 2017).

In the case of essential oils, the highest α-amylase inhibitory activities were produced by oregano leaf and lemon myrtle. The highest AChE inhibitory activity was produced by sage and was significantly higher from the rest of the essential oils. Lemon myrtle and rosemary exhibited moderate AChE activity, significantly higher than lavender, peppermint and oregano.

The nutraceutical potential(s) of fresh herbs that are commonly used in the Mediterranean diet (basil, lavender, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme) were compared by assessing their antioxidant, antidiabetic and neuroprotective activities. The highest antioxidant activity was found in extract from fresh oregano leaves, while the highest α-amylase and AChE inhibition were found in lavender leaves extract, followed by the lavender flowers extract and sage extract. α-Amylase inhibitory activities were correlated to AChE inhibition.

The consumption of fresh or powdered herbs from the mint family in culinary doses can help boost memory. This effect is enhanced if combined with the use of essential oils, topically as aromatherapy, by inhalation, and/or by ingestion.
Agatonovic-Kustrin, Snezana MSc Pharm, PhD1, *; Kustrin, Ella2; Morton, David W.3. Essential oils and functional herbs for healthy aging. Neural Regeneration Research: March 2019 – Volume 14 – Issue 3 – p 441-445 doi: 10.4103/1673-5374.245467

Therapeutic properties of herbs and oils

Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) The energetic qualities of chamomile are grounding and calming. The oil can increase the actions of antidepressants. Even topically it can have an interaction with codeine and tamoxifen. (See tisserand young 2nd edition Essential oil safety, pg. 243).
As a tea, chamomile can be used as a mild relaxant; brewing under 4 minutes to avoid bitterness. Note that if allergic to ragweed, there might be an allergic reaction to chamomile. Also, Chamomile contains coumarin which is a natural blood thinner; avoid or check with medical authorities if taking a blood thinner.

Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) is classic for anxiety, sleep, and mood modulation due to the chemical components linalol and linalyl acetate. The uses of lavender essential oil are well known and documented. A study at the University of Florida in 2017 found that the use of lavender had the biggest effect on the frequency of agitation episodes for which a statistically significant decrease was observed, especially in the 70 – 85 age group.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ct. 1,8-cineole) Long known for memory enhancement, rosemary also can increase the ability to be alert. Safety data: The use of rosemary with the 1,8-cineole component at 42% should be used with caution in those with asthma.

Rosemary has been used as a memory enhancer.

Marjoram (Organium marjorana) Not the first essential oil that you would think could be used for calming the agitative state, but this oil has CNS properties that sedate and calm the mind. Marjoram and lavender blend well together when diffused.

Oregano (Origanium vulgare) Although the essential oil oregano is listed in a study for dementia patients, I have read that oregano could increase agitation due to the hot nature of the oil. I would not Use, as there are other oils which are better served for this use. The chemical component in oregano is carvacrol, which should not be used with people who are diabetics, those taking blood thinners or any blood disorders, before or after major surgery, or those with a history of peptic ulcers. Oregano oil is not recommended to diffuse or with an inhaler.

In closing

Being mindful of the studies and safety concerns with patients having dementia, the use of lavender, rosemary and marjoram essential oils and the herb chamomile can be utilized.
The use of oregano essential oil should be used with extreme caution because of the safety issues with medications and disorders.

To get started with using essential oils, check out 6 Easy to use essential oils – Just Essentials Today by going to:

Happy Blending,


“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”

Col 3:23