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Lavender essential oil as a treatment of behavioural symptoms in dementia

Eva van der Ploeg
Research Centre DCRC Assessment and Better Care
Partner Institution Monash University
Project Description

Aromatherapy is widely used in residential aged care settings to calm and relax residents. This randomised, placebo-controlled trial tested whether lavender oil was more effective than jojoba oil (control condition) to reduce agitation in nursing home residents with dementia with frequent agitated behaviour.

The control oil was not considered to have any of the beneficial properties that lavender has, but was applied to control for the tactile and social interaction with the nurse that applied the oil. All sixty-three participants received the lavender and control oil, so that we could make comparisons within individuals. Residents were randomly assigned to the order in which they received the oils and both oils were applied on 3 occasions in 1 week. Residents were observed 30 minutes and 60 minutes after the application. Lavender did not prove to be more effective in reducing agitation, increasing positive affect or decreasing negative affect than the control oil.

While we did not find evidence for benefits of lavender oil in this population, it may work in people with less impaired cognition or as part of a massage or a multisensory intervention.

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