The Wonders of Essential Oils for Alzheimer’s Patients

People suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have experienced vast improvement with the use of essential oils. Some oils are used individually, while there are blends formulated to support specific needs, such as relaxation during the waking hours, anxiety, mind stimulation, sleep support and appetite stimulation. The task of taking care of people who suffer from these diseases is very challenging, and aromatherapy has also shown to be helpful for caregivers and family members.

Jackie Farnell, owner of Scentsible Solutions, created aromatherapy blends and protocols for Alzheimer’s patients that are used in more than 450 nursing facilities. Studies with these blends showed overall improvement in the quality of life of patients, reduction in medications and improved attendance of caregivers.

One of Farnell’s blends, Restore Peace, which contains frankincense and grapefruit was used for a woman who screamed nonstop, unless she was asleep. After one week of use, her screaming decreased by 50 percent and completely subsided by the end of week two. The patient was eventually taken off her anti-psychotic medication and was able to move out of the dementia unit.

Donna Whyte-English, owner of Holistic Aromatics, relates how one patient became mean while being bathed, dressed or redirected, but with inhalation of lemon balm essential oil, there was an immediate mood change to one of peacefulness and cooperation. Another patient found this same aroma intolerable, but loved those of orange, lemon, frankincense, vetiver and may chang, and when inhaling them was no longer combative.

Clove, bay laurel, cinnamon leaf, rosemary, lemon balm, nutmeg, frankincense, and basil are some of the essential oils that improve cognition. If agitation becomes a problem, you could use these essential oils: lavender, rose, orange, patchouli, Ylang Ylang, or lemon balm.

Other aspects of Alzheimer’s patient care that have been successfully addressed with essential oils include memory enhancement, pain and constipation relief, infection control (via reduced transmission/prevention of bacterial and viral illnesses), wound care (including MRSA), palliative care, and stress reduction and enhanced well-being of residents, facility staff and home caregivers.

Can Massage Therapy Help Prevent Stress-Related Obesity?

Often, stress is related to weight gain and obesity. Many people develop cravings for salt, fat, and sugar to counteract life’s stressors and tension. As a result, they gain weight. Weight gain can occur even with a healthy diet, however, in some people who are exposed to stress it can be more severe. In addition, the weight gained is often abdominal fat, which increases the risk of diabetes and heart problems.

The release of cortisol, a major stress hormone, appears to boost abdominal fat and may be the primary connection between stress and weight gain. Cortisol is a glucocorticoid. These hormones, along with insulin, appear to be responsible for stress-related food cravings. Evidence suggests that hormonally induced cravings for “comfort foods” may have a biological benefit for managing stress. Eating comfort foods appears to reduce the negative hormonal and behavioral changes associated with stress, which might lessen the impact of stress on an individual. Carbohydrates in particular may increase levels of tryptophan and large neutral amino acids. This leads to more production of the chemical messenger serotonin, which might improve mood and performance under stress.

There may be a “reward-based stress eating” model. In this theory, stress and tasty, high-caloric foods cause the brain to produce chemicals called endogenous opioids. These neurotransmitters help protect against the harmful effects of stress by slowing activity of a brain process called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, thus weakening the stress response. Repeated stimulation of the reward pathways through stress-induced HPA stimulation, eating tasty food, or both, may lead to changes in the brain that cause compulsive overeating.

Research finds that overeating may be triggered by different stressors in men and women. Women tend to put on extra pounds when dealing with financial and work problems, as well as strained family relationships. Men gain more weight from lack of decision authority at work and difficulty in learning new skills on the job.

Clinical studies show that even a single 1 ½ -hour session of massage therapy can significantly lower heart rate, cortisol levels and insulin levels. Massage therapy helps to bring calmness back into your life. It allows your body to turn off the survival mechanism and begin to relax. Being in this state of deep relaxation, your body is able to restore homeostasis, the balance that your body constantly strives to maintain. Stress is relieved by increasing circulation to the tissues and organs, freeing tension from constricted muscles, stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system which aids in digestion and stabilizes heart rhythm and breathing patterns. Massage is thought to increase the flow of endorphins which are neurotransmitters in the brain that have pain relieving properties and produce overall feelings of euphoria. When all these systems are working properly, the body is functioning at its optimum level of wellness.

Receive regular massages that can greatly benefit your health and well being by reducing stress both physically and psychologically at our Centers!

Massage Therapy Facts & Fallacy

Like sleeping in, enjoying a beach day or eating some chocolate, many people look at massage as an indulgent way to treat themselves and de-stress. However, in addition to making you feel good, massage therapy – manipulation of the skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments through touch – is also associated with numerous health benefits. Nevertheless, as with other forms of alternative medicine, not all of the health claims made by massage therapy are supported with scientific evidence.

FACT: Massage eases lower back pain – even better than medication.

As many as one-in-four Americans suffer from lower back pain, and it is estimated that 80 percent of Americans experience debilitating lower back pain at least once in their lives. However, long-term use of conventional medical treatments for lower back pain, such as opioid painkillers, can lead to organ damage and even addiction. Massage may represent a safer and more effective lower back pain treatment. A study published in the July 2011 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine found that among 401 middle-aged female participants with chronic lower back pain, those who received a 10-week series of either relaxation massage or structural massage—a more intensive type of massage—experienced less pain and improved functioning compared to those who received only usual care such as painkillers, muscle relaxants and physical therapy.

FALLACY: Massage burns fat.

Although some beauty spas, salons and massage practitioners offer weight loss massage services, massage has not been proven to burn fat or reduce cellulite. Massaging devices sold on TV or over the Internet are similarly ineffective at burning fat. The only safe and proven ways to burn fat are diet and exercise. That said, while massage itself won’t burn fat, a relaxing massage is a healthier alternative to more fattening de-stressors like sweets or alcohol. If getting a massage helps keep you from reaching for that chocolate cake, then by all means, make an appointment!

FACT: Massage reduces post-exercise muscle soreness.

While massage has been used to treat muscle soreness after strain or exercise for thousands of years, the mechanisms behind its effectiveness have not been well understood until now. Research published in Science Translational Medicine in February 2012 examined the effects of a 10-minute massage on the thigh muscles of young, healthy male volunteers who had just completed vigorous exercise to exhaustion. By studying muscle biopsies, scientists found that massage reduced the production of cytokines, pro-inflammatory compounds associated with post-exercise muscle pain. Additionally, massage stimulated mitochondria, energy producers inside of cells responsible for cell function and repair. The study’s authors also noted that massage is a safer way to reduce muscle pain than taking anti-inflammatory medication.

FALLACY: Massage builds muscle tissue.

Unfortunately, this is another myth. You cannot attain hypertrophy, or muscle growth, through massage. It is also untrue that certain forms of massage, such as tapotement can be used to strengthen muscles, as muscle strengthening requires muscle growth. Although massage can help relax tight muscles, only resistance exercise can build muscle. But as with weight loss, getting a massage might indirectly influence muscle growth – you might be encouraged to engage in some muscle-building strength exercises if a massage eases your muscle pain, lower back pain, depression, etc.

To minimize any risks associated with massage, make sure your session is conducted by a certified massage therapist, and get your doctor’s approval prior to getting a massage if you have unexplained pain, blood clots, bone fractures, severe osteoporosis, cancer, burns, open wounds or rheumatoid arthritis, or are pregnant.

Achieving Daily Emotional Balance with Aromatherapy

Stress appears in various ways throughout the day, from being stuck in traffic to managing work, school responsibilities and family life. When stress seems to be getting in the way, diffusing essential oils during the day can help with activity and productivity.

Aromatherapy utilizes essential oils to achieve desired mental and emotional effects. Essential oil scents promote certain moods and states within the body, the conscious and intuitive mind. The benefit of aromatherapy is that different aromas cause the body and the mind to receive specific influences of life forces that attune the inner self to achieve balance.

Diffusing essential oils in a room is an easy and direct inhalation application method. When essential oils are diffused, the molecules are broken up into microfine mist particles. These mist particles stay suspended in the air for long periods of time, which reduces bacteria, mold and dispels odors in the air. These micromist particles also benefit those who inhale them. Diffused essential oils actually alter the structure of the molecules that create odors, rendering them harmless. In addition, they increase available oxygen in the room and produce negative ions.

There are many types of diffusers:

  • vaporizers are clean and safe
  • hand-held ones can be used while traveling
  • glass diffusers
  • nebulizers
  • diffuser timers, which have an on-off cycle during the day
  • fan diffusers can be placed on a desk or in a central area of the room

To relax the mind and body, relieve tension and clear the mind, try diffusing the following essential oils in a room daily at specific times. Each of these oils has specific energetic properties that make them effective at achieving the desired state of mind during specific times of the day.

  • Morning: Use citrus oils to decrease mental exhaustion, be fully alert and awake, such as lemon (Citrus limonum), orange (Citrus aurantium) or grapefruit (Citrus paradisi).
  • Afternoon: After lunch, use spice oils to decrease tension, fatigue and nervousness, such as cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) and peppermint (Mentha piperita).
  • Mid-day: Later in the day to calm and decrease fatigue and stress, use floral oils like lavender (Lavendula angustifolia), rose (Rosa damascena) or jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum).

You can now be stress-less or stress-free the whole day with this simple practice using essentials oils. If you don’t have much time to do this yourself, you can visit one of our Centres near you. Surely, our masseuses will take care of releasing all the tensions in your body and mind. Find time to relax, de-stress and indulge with Thai Odyssey.