Listed in Issue 250


YOSHIYAMA and COLLEAGUES, 1. Clinique L'Esprit Naturel , Nagoya, Japan .

2. Tenri Health Care University , Nara, Japan; 3. Public Health & Medical Center of Sagamihara City , Kanagawa, Japan conducted randomized, crossover pilot trials to assess the effectiveness and safety of clinical aromatherapy in people with dementia.


Clinical aromatherapy is a complementary therapy that may be very helpful for elderly dementia care. Aromatherapy may reduce the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD), improve quality of care, and thus improve the quality of life for people with dementia. In this pilot study, aroma hand massage therapy was used for elderly patients in a medical institution in Japan. The study assessed the effectiveness and safety of clinical aromatherapy as part of routine integrative care among people with dementia in a clinical care setting.


The randomized, crossover pilot trials were performed among 14 patients with mild-to-moderate dementia older than age 65 years living in a nursing home in Nara, Japan. Participants were divided into two groups and offered, alternately, control therapy and clinical aromatherapy 3 times a week for the 4-week trials. The effects on BPSD and activities of daily living (ADLs) were evaluated quantitatively before and after the study and 4 weeks after the study ended as a follow-up. Observation records were also collected to obtain qualitative data.


The quantitative data showed that neither therapy significantly improved the BPSD or ADL results. The qualitative data were classified into four main categories-mood, behaviour, verbal communication, and nonverbal communication-reflecting the positive experiences of participants during both therapies. No harmful reactions or changes in medication occurred during the study.


This pilot study demonstrated that clinical aromatherapy was clinically safe but did not lead to statistically significant improvements in BPSD or ADL among people with dementia. Further research on therapeutic effects is needed to develop high-quality care with clinical aromatherapy for elderly patients with dementia in Japan and to fully establish evidence for effective and safe practice in health care institutions.


Yoshiyama K1, Arita H2, Suzuki J3. The Effect of Aroma Hand Massage Therapy for People with Dementia. J Altern Complement Med. 21(12):759-65. Dec 2015. doi: 10.1089/acm.2015.0158. Epub 2015 Sep 18.

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