Is aromatherapy an effective intervention for people with dementia?
From: The Cochrane Collaboration
- Holt, F.E., Birks, T.P., Thorgrimsen, L.M., Spector, A.E., Wiles, A., Orrell, M., 1996. Aroma therapy for dementia, in: Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
- 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)
- 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.