The Whitworths of Arizona, bringing science to you in everyday language.

Friday, December 28, 2018

Diffusing Essential Oils

Last week's blog was about lavender and how helpful it can be during the holidays. There are some other essential oils that can also be helpful. Aromatherapy makes them very easy ways to add a calming element to the holidays. Just put the scents out there in the air and let them do their work. Remember, even if your loved one has lost their sense of smell, aromatherapy may still work. But first, you should know a little about the different ways of doing that:
  • A warm air humidifier (or diffuser) is least effective method for aromatherapy. Heat changes the qualities of oil and usually decreases its effectiveness. Many of us use humidifiers, especially in winter, when heaters dry out our indoor air. Try adding a few drops of essential oil. It won't hurt and it might help--and it will add an enjoyable scent to the air.
  • Candles smell lovely but you still have the heat issue. Again, use and enjoy, but don't expect them to be very helpful as a relaxing agent.
  • A nebulizer uses full strength oil. While they are very effective, they are also very expensive. Essential oil nebulizers are not like those you carry around and sniff. They are more like diffusers, except that they don't require water. They do have their uses. One is that they often offer programming. I have one that I use to diffuse a blend of oils that helps me sleep without getting a stuffy nose. I set to run a few minutes every half-hour. Then I connected it to a 24 hour timer set to run only at night. I believe the high cost of the unit ($100-$150) is worth the continuity I get. With the timers, my oils last a long time too.
  • A cool mist diffuser is both effective and inexpensive. You can get a good diffuser for between $15 and $25. Usually you just add a few drops of your favorite oil or blend to the water and let it "peculate." I keep one near my desk where I work and one in the living room where I relax with different blends in each one.
You can also mix your calming oils with a carrier oil such as coconut oil and use this as a massage agent. While massage is more work than aromatherapy, it can be quite effective. In addition, it adds a rewarding element of togetherness to the mix.

There are several other oils besides lavender that are known for their calming qualities: bergamot, cinnamon, ylang ylang, geranium, patchouli, rosewood, jasmine and basil. In addition, peppermint and the citrus oils--lemon, ornate and pink grapefruit are all uplifting and energizing.

Next week: More about these oils and a few others that can help with after-holiday stress "leftovers."

For more about essential oils that are most helpful with dementia, read our 12/8/2017 blog.

For more information about Lewy body disorders, read our books: A Caregivers’ Guide to Lewy Body Dementia
Managing Cognitive Issues in Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia

 Helen and James Whitworth are not doctors, lawyers or social workers. As informed caregivers, they share the information here for educational purposes only. It should never be used instead of a professional's advice.

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