Lavender oil as a treatment for agitated behaviour in severe dementia: a placebo controlled study

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2002 Apr;17(4):305-8. doi: 10.1002/gps.593.

Abstract

Objective: To determine whether aromatherapy with lavender oil is effective in the treatment of agitated behaviour in patients with severe dementia.

Design: A placebo controlled trial with blinded observer rater.

Setting: A long-stay psychogeriatric ward.

Patients: Fifteen patients meeting ICD-10 diagnostic criteria for severe dementia and suffering from agitated behaviour defined as a minimum score of three points on the Pittsburgh Agitation Scale (PAS).

Intervention: A 2% lavender oil aromatherapy stream was administered on the ward for a two hour period alternated with placebo (water) every other day for a total of ten treatment sessions.

Assessments: For each subject 10 total PAS scores were obtained. Five during treatment and five during placebo periods.

Results: Nine patients (60%) showed an improvement, five (33%) showed no change and one patient (7%) showed a worsening of agitated behaviour during aromatherapy compared with placebo. A comparison of the group median PAS scores during aromatherapy showed a significant improvement in agitated behaviour during aromatherapy compared with placebo (median PAS scores 3 c.f. 4; Wilcoxon Signed-Ranks test p = 0.016 (one-tailed)).

Conclusions: Lavender oil administered in an aroma stream shows modest efficacy in the treatment of agitated behaviour in patients with severe dementia.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aromatherapy*
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use*
  • Psychomotor Agitation / therapy*
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Statistics, Nonparametric

Substances

  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils
  • lavender oil