Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Aromatherapy for Seniors, Alzheimer's Patients (and Others)

"There is no cure for Alzheimer's" I read again and again. I've alternated between accepting that claim and refusing to accept it. Scientists promise a cure in the future, but what about now? Even if there is no cure currently, maybe it's possible to stop its progression. This - stopping the progression of Alzheimer's - is in itself a blessing and this is my goal for my elderly mom.

I think I get a wisp of a sense of how difficult it is to remove plaque when I think about my semi-annual teeth cleanings! Ouch! It is so  much easier to not allow the plaque to build up in the first place. Or when I think about my own high cholesterol numbers, which is why I've been on Lipitor for so many years. As I just discussed with my doctor, the plaque in the arteries cannot be removed, but it can be stabilized. Or its buildup can be contained by smart eating. Such would be the plaque in the brain of Alzheimer's sufferers.

When it comes to my elderly mother, my mission is to halt its progression, and to stop this dreaded disease from further debilitating my mom's mind and robbing her of her intellect and memory. When Aricept had to be discontinued due to gastrointestinal side effects, I discovered that the Exelon patch bypassed that issue, as it was transdermal, and she's been on the Exelon patch ever since with minimal side effects.

My most recent protocol is aromatherapy. AROMATHERAPY? I do yoga and all, but I have my limits in this wellness craze. 

Still, need mandated that I venture forth once again into cyberspace, at which time I found a study done by faculty at the Tottori University, Yonago, Japan, which used the essential oil rosemary. Rosmarinus officinalis. The same rosemary that we use for cooking to make food smell yummy? The same herb that I have growing in my garden? The study also used the essential oil of lemon. In this study, the two essential oils, rosemary and lemon, were added to water in a diffuser. Both are presumed to have properties that, by traveling through the nasal cavity, and thus avoiding being broken down in the liver, directly affect the hippocampus or amygdaloid body, which is in charge of discharging neurotransmitters. A compound in rosemary, 1,8-cineole, causes an increase in a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine. It is the breakdown of these neurotransmitters which causes the lapses in memory and cognition.

What did I have to lose? What does my mom have to lose by trying this?

I ordered a diffuser and ordered the essential oils, and we went to work. The morning aid comes in to give my mom her meds and follows the protocol indicated in the study, exactly. She puts just enough water in the diffuser that the oils diffuse in under two hours, while my mom goes back to sleep. She sleeps as close to the diffuser as possible because she loves smelling the sweetness. Pretty interesting from somebody who insisted she had no sense of smell. Is there something in this essential oil is igniting her sense of smell?

If there's any water left over, in the evenings she holds the diffuser close to her nose and just breathes in the vapors. She loves the sweet smell. And as a bonus it may actually be helping to WHAT the neurotransmitters.

Is it affecting, or improving her cognitive functioning and her memory?

I believe so.  I maintain a log of what she does, what she says, and have been keeping this for months now. We also have a week-at-a-glance book that her aids and she fill in daily. In the last 5 weeks I've seen extraordinary improvement. In addition to the Exelon patch (which, by the way, is designed to block the enzymes that break down the neurotransmitters), she is also taking the doses of coconut oil (see next blog post.)

Doubtful? Read the Japanese study for yourself by following the link above. If your parent or spouse is suffering from Alzheimer's, what do you have to lose? What does he or she?

As for the rosemary growing in our garden, I have snipped off some branches and every now and then take a deep whiff. A big inhale... AHHHHH! And while inhaling I think about how much my brain loves this.....

And this is over-the-counter! The same type of naturally-growing plant that pharmaceuticals often try to mimic in their medications.

With this nasty disease, Alzheimer's, which usually results in death, it's best to take an all-inclusive approach. And remember, it takes 20 years for the symptoms of Alzheimer's to appear. So why wait until it's too late? Do some aromatherapy with the sweet-smelling scents of rosemary and lemon.

(See also: BBC: What Does Rosemary Do To Your Brain?)

No comments:

Post a Comment