Is aromatherapy an effective intervention for people with dementia?

From: The Cochrane Collaboration

Journal rating:
rating: 98%
Study Quality:
rating: 100%

Overall Reliability

Article Quality:
rating: 35%
rating: 0%


  • 72 people in just 1 study (note that the paper is a systematic review / meta-analysis of all relevant trials). All 72 participants had severe dementia.


  • Melissa and base lotion applied topically to arms and face twice daily for 1-2 minutes for 4 weeks.
  • The control condition was sunflower oil applied in the same way.


  • 60% of the active treatment group and 14% of the placebo-treated group experienced a 30% reduction of CMAI (Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory) score, with an overall improvement in agitation of 35% in patients receiving Melissa balm essential oil and 11% in those treated with placebo.
  • Quality of life indices also improved significantly more in people receiving essential balm oil


  • Yes (with confidence)


Editors Notes

  • The great majority of reported research on aromatherapy for people with dementia is of scientifically inadequate quality.
  • Low numbers of participants questions the validity of the findings.