Rosemary and Lemon: Aromatherapy for Seniors, Alzheimer’s Patients (and You)

Rosemary_white_bgReblogged from “Mom, Me and Elderly” by Jane Hanser:

“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 about my semi-annual teeth cleanings and how difficult it is to remove plaque! Ouch! (It is so much easier to not allow the plaque to build up in the first place.) Regarding my own high cholesterol numbers, my physician explains you cannot remove the plaque, you can only stabilize it (with statin medications such as Lipitor) so it doesn’t break off and cause heart failure. Or its buildup can be contained by smart eating. But plaque in our brains? Research is now being done in mice to try to successfully remove plaque from their brains but that remains long off for humans.

When it comes to my elderly mother, my mission is to halt the progression of this disease, while she can still get pleasure from life and from our company, and to stop this dreaded disease from further debilitating her 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 is transdermal, and she’s been on an effective dose of the Exelon patch for months with minimal side effects.

Still, necessity mandated that I venture once again into cyberspace, alwyas looking for something I had missed before, or something new, and this 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.

AROMATHERAPY? I do yoga and all, but I have my limits in this wellness craze. Talk to me about wellness and all, and you’ve lost me!What did I have to lose? What does my mom have to lose by trying this?

I ordered a diffuser, 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 little deterioration, and 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…..  Suddenly rosemary is one of the most beautiful smells to me.

And this is over-the-counter! The same type of naturally-growing plant that pharmaceuticals often try to mimic in their medications. I still don’t like to label myself a “naturalist” or get into terms like “wellness” but I’m open to the wisdom of trying these long-coveted medicinals and aromatics, naturally growing plants.

With Alzheimer’s, a nasty disease that usually results in death, it’s best to take an all-inclusive approach. And remember, it takes 15-20 years for the symptoms of Alzheimer’s to appear. So why wait until there’s been an Alzheimer’s diagnosis?

Rosemary and Remembrance. Do some of nature’s own healing aromatherapy with the sweet-smelling scents of rosemary and lemon.

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

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About Jane

The gravitar you see is Joey, narrator and protagonist of my book, "DOGS DON'T LOOK BOTH WAYS," 2015 B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree. Recently I have been film critic for newspapers such as "The Jewish Advocate," "The Jewish Journal" and "The Newton Tab." I love to bicycle, play tennis, and swim, and to participate in local community activities. My favorites are providing food for the needy, bicycle and pedestrian safety, and literacy.
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12 Responses to Rosemary and Lemon: Aromatherapy for Seniors, Alzheimer’s Patients (and You)

  1. Sue Vincent says:

    ‘Rosemary for remembrance…’ what have you got to lose? I wish you all the best with this, Jane.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jane says:

    Sue, I’d like to know more about how you’ve been using herbals. I’m just getting started.

    Like

  3. Léa says:

    Love fresh rosemary, fortunately it is everywhere here as is the lovely lavender… I keep a lavender sachet under my pillow, try it for sweet dreams… 😉

    BTW, rosemary in your lotion is so very cooling in the warmer weather. Lea

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jane says:

      Ah! So you found this rosemary post! This is about as close as I’ve ever come to a “food blog!” (This and my other posts on food to stave off Alzheimers…). My attempts to find olfactory pleasure through a lavender sachet were met with failure. (Much more fun to go to France…) I so used to enjoy the pine sachets that are so ubiquitous in Maine.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Léa says:

        While I lived on the east coast for nearly six years, I never got to Maine. There is no chance now as I’ve been in France over eight years and nothing sounds as good as this feels…
        My great-uncle’s second wife had Alzheimer’s and I cared for her for three years. Unfortunately he was a beast but a rich one and nobody would intervene. I kept it up as long as I could and hope that others stepped in. Vern is gone now but I do have some fond memories of her.
        The olfactory sense is great for memory. We did some testing in the psychology department in my undergrad days.
        There is plenty of pine a short walk from my house and up near the cascade… it is mostly scrubland and we are minutes from the Mediterranean… I know it is tough but someone has to live here.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Jane says:

    Sue, So he did! But it was a fair race!
    Hamlet, act 4 scene 5
    “OPHELIA
    There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love,
    remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.”

    I’ll take both!

    Like

  5. Jane says:

    Very interesting, all, Lea. Will have to come back to your comments and blog when I’m not writing on my iPhone in an airport! I know what you mean – same with Aroostook. Very wilderness but some rugged souls simply have to live there! And smell the pines!

    Like

  6. Pingback: Rosemary and Lemon: Aromatherapy for Seniors, Alzheimer’s Patients (and You) – Studio KAKU presents

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