Efficacy of aromatherapy (Lavandula angustifolia) as an intervention for agitated behaviours in Chinese older persons with dementia: a cross-over randomized trial

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2007 May;22(5):405-10. doi: 10.1002/gps.1688.


Background: Agitated behaviours among persons with dementia are distressing to both patients and their caregivers. As pharmacological interventions may be limited by their potentially adverse effects, the use of complementary therapies for treatment of agitation has become more popular and aromatherapy is the fastest growing one.

Objectives: This study investigates the effectiveness of lavandula angustifolia (lavender) in treating agitated behaviours of demented people in Hong Kong.

Methods: It was a cross-over randomized trial. Seventy Chinese older adults with dementia were recruited; half were randomly assigned to the active group (lavender inhalation) for three weeks and then switched to control group (sunflower inhalation) for another three weeks; the other half did the opposite. Clinical response was evaluated using the Chinese versions of Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CCMAI) and Neuropsychiatric Inventory (CNPI).

Results: The mean CCMAI total scores decreased from 24.68 to 17.77(t=10.79, df=69, p<0.001). The CNPI scores changed from 63.17 (SD=17.81) to 58.77 (SD=16.74) (t=14.59, df=69, p<0.001) after receiving Treatment A (Lavandula Angustifolia). There were no period and sequential effects noted.

Conclusion: In summary, lavender is effective as an adjunctive therapy in alleviating agitated behaviours in Chinese patients with dementia. In a patient population particularly vulnerable to side effects of psychotropic medications, aromatherapy using lavender may offer an alternative option.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / ethnology
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Alzheimer Disease / therapy*
  • Aromatherapy*
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Female
  • Homes for the Aged
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Lavandula*
  • Male
  • Nursing Homes
  • Psychomotor Agitation / ethnology
  • Psychomotor Agitation / psychology
  • Psychomotor Agitation / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome