Alzheimer’s Disease Treatments

According to the National Institute on Aging, “as many as 2.4 to 4.5 million Americans are living with [Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)],” and, as the American population ages, some experts believe as many as 41 million people will be affected by the year 2020. AD progresses over time and basically goes through three broad stages—the first stage is increasingly forgetfulness, the second is continued memory loss, and the third is unmistakable signs, such as nerve damage, hallucinations, and delusions. Besides traditional and conventional therapies, some of the Alzheimer’s disease treatments that you may have not considered include acupressure, aromatherapy, and Bach flower remedies.

Acupressure

Chinese Medicine News reports that agitated and aggressive behavior often seen in dementia patients may improve with acupressure. They base their statement on a study where “therapy seemed to calm patients’ behaviour immediately and reduce their episodes of aggression over the four-week treatment period.” Researchers believe acupressure may be successful because of the human contact involved. Another study also showed that “needling specific acupoints may help patients with dementia…[because it] affect[s] glucose metabolism in different functional regions of the brain.”  In addition, acupressure is believed to increase metal awareness and relieve stress and tension, which may also counteract aggressive behavior in dementia patients.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine. It involves the use of plant extracts, often referred to as essentialoils, to balance, harmonize and promote a healthy mind, body, and spirit. Essential oils are highly concentrated oils and are made from roots, leaves, berries, flowers, bark, rhizomes, seeds, resins, or peels. Because they are so concentrated, they are usually diluted and added to vegetable-based “carrier” oils, which include almond, grapeseed, hazelnut, or olive oil—before they applied. Sometimes they are used in baths, creams, or diffusers, or they may be sniffed or inhaled. Rose, ecualyptus, jasmine, lavender, tea tree, rosemary, and myrrh are just a few of the essential oils that you may have heard of or tried.

Several aromatherapy studies have been conducted, and many appear to alleviate aggressive or agitated behavior in Alzheimer sufferers. The first study by Holmes, et al in 2002, used 2 percent lavender that was inhaled daily. Researchers reported “significant improvement in agitated behaviour during aromatherapy.” Another study by Bowels in 2002 used creams with “one of four essentialoils (lavender, sweet marjoram, patchouli or vetiver) or cream alone.” The creams were massaged into the skin five times daily for eight weeks, and, researchers noted, “a significant decrease in behavioural problems and resistance to care in the patients who received the cream with essential oils.” However, not all aromatherapy studies have proved beneficial. One study (Holmes et al, 2001) showed patients severely affected by dementia “may show a deleterious response to aromatherapy.”

Alzheimer’s patients who suffer fatigue or tiredness may be helped when a few drops of essential oils are added to their baths. According to various aromatherapists, rosemary is an excellent oil to combat fatigue and eliminate physical exhaustion, and it may also alleviate aches and pains and stimulate mental function. Other essential oils used to improve fatigue symptoms include lavender, neroli, geranium, and basil. However, before using any aromatherapy oils, read Essential Oil Safety Tips.

Bach Flower Therapy

The last Alzheimer’s Disease treatment is Bach flower therapy. It is different from aromatherapy because it is based on the idea that each flower has energy and that the energy is transmitted to the user through the extracted liquid. Similar to homeopathic remedies, Bach flower essences are diluted and are administered as drops. They are also used to eliminate stress and facilitate relaxation, and some proponents of Bach flower therapies claim they healcauses of psychological illnesses. Here’s a chart of how Bach flower essences may help.

 

Bach Flower Essence Possible Benefit and What It is Used For
Chestnut Bud Aids childlike behavior or helps in cases where there is difficulty learning
Chicory Improves insecure feelings
Holly Helps angry feelings based on envy, jealousy, or suspicion.
White Chestnut Improves obsessive thoughts

 

Conclusion

Acupressure, aromatherapy, and Bach flower therapy are often not considered traditional or conventional Alzheimer’s Disease treatments. However, they may offer unique benefits. They may calm agitated Alzheimer’s sufferers, relieve stress, and improve mental clarity. They also tend to be treatments that can be easily incorporated into a person’s life, and because these therapies are essentially drug free, they may eliminate side effects often seen with drug-based therapies.

 

 

Information Note:

This site provides information for educational purposes, and although many people have used these herbal products without incident, there are several important things you should know.

People sometimes have allergic or adverse reactions to aromatherapy essential oils and Bach flower essences. Make sure you know what adverse reactions can happen if you use them. Additionally, if you are taking other medications or if you suffer from a chronic disease, DO NOT take anything without first talking to your health care professional. 

 

2 Comments

  1. I have a friend whose mother suffers from alzheimer’s. Her symptoms began when she was in her late 40’s. The decline has been difficult to watch. These treatments sound wonderful – for soothing, if nothing else.

  2. Geri, the alternative therapies you mention are definitely worth a try. I use aromatherapy while massaging and find the essential oils you mention very calming for both clients and myself. My essential oil of choice is lavendar.

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