As you know, for a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, life can be frustrating, confusing, and scary. Aromatherapy makes the challenges of Alzheimer’s more manageable. This type of complementary medicine uses essential oils to confer wellbeing for the mind, emotions, and body. Here’s how aromatherapy can make life easier for your loved one.
Science of AromatherapyEssential oils are concentrated plant extracts with restorative qualities. The liquids are pressed or distilled from plant parts such as flowers, fruits, bark, leaves, roots, and seeds. After processing, an oil contains the “essence” of its source plant, including its scent, flavor, and biological compounds. When you inhale the vapor, receptor sites in your nose respond by sending nerve messages to your brain. Then, specific brain regions interpret these signals, producing physiological effects. Activated brain areas include the:
- Hippocampus – Used for learning and memory
- Amygdala – Registers emotion
- Hypothalamus – Produces hormones that govern body processes such as digestion, cardiovascular function, body temperature, appetite, sleep, behavior, and memory formation
- Pituitary gland – Releases hormones that control organs, such as those involved with metabolism, immunity, pain, and moods