Aromatherapy and Aromatic Plants for the Treatment of Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia in Patients with Alzheimer's Disease: Clinical Evidence and Possible Mechanisms

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:9416305. doi: 10.1155/2017/9416305. Epub 2017 Mar 30.


The treatment of agitation and aggression, typical Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSDs) of Alzheimer's Disease (AD), is one of the most complicated aspects of handling patients suffering from dementia. Currently, the management of these symptoms often associated with an increased pain perception, which notably reduces the patients' quality of life (QoL), relies on the employment of antipsychotic drugs. Unfortunately, the use of these pharmacological agents has some limits: in the long term, they do not result in being equally effective as in the first weeks of treatment and they present important side effects. Therefore, there is growing interest, supported by clinical evidence, in aromatherapy for the control of agitation, aggression, and psychotic symptoms. Some molecular mechanisms have been proposed to explain the behavioural effects of essential oils, as the whole phytocomplex or the single components, but important basic research effort is still needed. For this reason, rigorous preclinical studies are necessary in order to understand the pharmacological basis of aromatherapy in the treatment of BPSDs and to widen the cluster of effective essential oils in pharmacotherapeutic practice.

Publication types

  • Review