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Alzheimer's Disease was identified in 1906 by Dr. Alois Alzheimer. The disease is a progressive brain disorder that affects memory, basic abilities, communication, and behaviour. Dr. Alzheimer identifies it with two specific features: plaques and tangles.
Plaques are deposits of a protein called A-Beta. When the proteins form a clump, plaques form that prevent signals from firing between nerve cells in the brain.
The tangles are similarly made up of proteins, called Tau. Tau helps support brain cells by transferring nutrients and other materials to them. When the protein collapses and twists, tangles form and prevent the transfer of nutrients. This results in dead brain cells.
Some of the most common symptoms of those affected by Alzheimer's disease include memory loss, confusion with time and place, and misplacing and losing belongings. Although these are the most common and are typically hard to treat, there are some specific symptoms that can be relieved with aromatherapy.
These include a change in personality, change in mood, and a lack in motivation to take part in regular social activities. These symptoms typically are accompanied by depression, anxiety, irritability or fear.
Aromatherapy, sometimes referred to as essential oil therapy, uses aromatics extracted from plant sources by distillation, pressing and purifying, or diffusion. The oils are usually inhaled or put directly onto the skin in a diluted form.
Essential oils can be used in baths, body wraps, masks and plasters, air diffusers, and through many types of massage techniques. They are often used to achieve different goals, primarily to affect general mood (e.g. relax, calm, stimulate), fight bacteria, and alleviate some cases of pain.
Oils may be combined into specific blends and applied in more concentrated amounts and in smaller areas for specific therapeutic purposes.
Lavender is well known for its calming effect. Inhaling lavender or spraying it on linens can help alleviate symptoms such as depression, anger, and irritability.
Lemon balm oil is one of the most studied oils and one of the most effective. Lemon balm helps relax people dealing with anxiety or insomnia and improves memory.
Ylang ylang oil helps ease depression while promoting a good sleep. This can benefit not only those with Alzheimer's Disease but also caregivers who struggle with sleeping.
Bergamot oil can be used when anxious, agitated, or stressed. It can also help with insomnia.
Although there is currently no cure for Alzheimer's Disease, using different treatments like aromatherapy can help relieve some of the symptoms that come with it. Give lavender or ylang ylang a try to relax a patient or loved one and perhaps lemon balm to help with insomnia.
For more information about aromatherapy use our Health Provider Directory to find a practitioner in your area.