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Essential Oils for Parkinson's Disease

Limited research says that essential oils may ease some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, but more studies need to be conducted. Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive brain condition that can cause many physical symptoms, including balance and coordination difficulties, stiffness, and tremors. The symptoms will gradually worsen over time, leading to changes in mobility

  • Posted on 25th Apr, 2022 17:30 PM
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Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive brain condition that can cause many physical symptoms, including balance and coordination difficulties, stiffness, and tremors. The symptoms will gradually worsen over time, leading to changes in mobility and speech. People with PD can also develop mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and sleep problems.

Parkinson’s disease treatment has traditionally involved prescription medication, physical therapy, and, on occasion, surgery. The use of essential oils can benefit people living with PD by easing some of the symptoms associated with the condition. 

This article will discuss research on essential oils and which oils have shown to be potentially beneficial for people with Parkinson's disease.

The Spruce / Anastasiia Stiahailo

What Is Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is caused by a decrease in the production of dopamine.

People with PD have low dopamine levels. Dopamine is a chemical produced in the brain that regulates smooth, controlled movements. The nerve cells in the brain that make dopamine have died or are damaged.

Experts do not know what exactly causes PD. However, there is emerging evidence that suggests that there are genetic, inflammatory, and environmental factors (such as toxins) that can trigger PD.

Parkinson’s disease symptoms can include:

  • Tremors in the arms, hands, legs, and face
  • Stiffness
  • Slow movements
  • Decreased balance and coordination

Essential Oils for PD Symptoms

Essential oils are extracts pulled from plant material by steaming or pressing the plant. The oils pulled can be used as a complementary therapy to manage symptoms of several conditions, including PD. 

There is a 2020 study that supports inflammation within the body as a trigger or a cause of worsening PD. Some essential oils have anti-inflammatory properties and may ease some PD symptoms

Lavender

Lavender is a common essential oil that has been used for its calming scent. It is commonly found as an added fragrance to soap, lotion, and candles.

People with Parkinson’s disease can have difficulty sleeping. With lavender’s strong, calming properties, it’s no surprise that it can be used as a sleep aid.

A 2013 study reported that older adults who stopped using benzodiazepines (a common class of sedation medications) as a sleep aid did not sleep as long at nighttime. However, when they started using lavender aromatherapy oil, their sleep duration increased back to their previous duration.

Sweet Orange

People who have PD can suffer from mood changes and anxiety. Sweet orange has a light, citrusy scent that has been shown to improve mood and anxiety symptoms. A 2018 study found that people who inhaled citrus scents for 90 seconds experienced temporary changes in the brain, increasing relaxation and comfort levels.

Adding sweet orange essential oil to a diffuser for aromatherapy or in your bath may help ease anxiety related to PD. However, more research specific to people with Parkinson's disease is needed.

Peppermint

One of the mainstay treatments for PD is a combination medication called Sinemet (levodopa/carbidopa). Potential side effects of this medication are nausea and vomiting.  

Peppermint is a popular flavor and scent additive that can be used to help manage gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea and vomiting. A 2021 study tested inhaled peppermint as a treatment for nausea. It was found to be even more effective than a combination of peppermint and traditional nausea medication.

Add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to a diffuser when nausea hits and it may help ease the discomfort.

Rosemary

Rosemary is a green plant with leaves similar to an evergreen tree. The essential oil from this plant is thought to help with inflammation, pain, and infection. 

One hypothesis that experts are exploring is that PD can be triggered by brain inflammation. Using rosemary for its anti-inflammatory properties may have a positive effect on people with PD.

A 2016 study suggests that components of rosemary, fennel, and myrtle may have a protective effect against PD. The results are not conclusive and more research needs to be done on how rosemary and these other oils can slow the progression of PD.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a household spice that has a familiar smell and taste. It’s used in baking, tea, and as an essential oil. 

There is a study that shows cinnamon as a potential protective agent against the progression of PD. The 2021 study showed that essential oils from the Cinnamomum species could work to provide brain protection. More research needs to be done, as the study was only done on animals and has not gone through human trials.

Considerations for Treatment

While preliminary studies suggest that some of these essential oils may serve as effective complementary treatment methods for PD and other conditions, keep in mind that research is limited at this time. Always discuss complementary methods with your healthcare provider before adding them to your care routine.

How to Use Essential Oils

There are three ways that you can absorb essential oils, they are:

  • Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy refers to inhaling the essential oil. This can be done through a diffuser that uses a few drops of oil diluted into water. The diffuser then creates a mist that is sent into the room. Avoid using hot water diffusers due to the increased risk of accidental burns.
  • Topical absorption: This method is when you place a small amount of essential oil on the skin to be absorbed. Some options include essential oil rollers, massage oils, or lotions.
  • Internal ingestion: The last option is a gelatin pill with a safe amount of essential oil. This should be discussed with your healthcare provider and pharmacist to ensure there is no interaction with other medications you are currently taking.

Summary

Parkinson's disease is a progressive condition that affects the nervous system. It currently has no known cure. There are treatments available to help manage the progression of the disease and its symptoms.

Essential oils are a complementary therapy that may help reduce PD symptoms. Lavender can aid in sleep, sweet orange can help with anxiety, and peppermint eases nausea. In studies, rosemary and cinnamon have been shown to potentially slow down the progression of PD. However, more research needs to be done to determine these two essential oils' effectiveness in managing PD.

A Word From Verywell

Adding integrative treatments like essential oils may help you manage some of the symptoms of PD. Essential oils may ease your sleep troubles, stress, and nausea. It's important to note that essential oils are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so be sure to talk to your healthcare provider to ensure it is safe for your situation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do essential oils help PD?

    There is no scientific proof that essential oils treat or cure PD. But when used with prescribed treatments, essential oils may help manage some of the symptoms of PD like difficulty sleeping and anxiety.

  • Are there any side effects to using essential oils?

    Generally, most people will not experience negative side effects when using essential oils. However, there have been a few cases of serious side effects that you should be aware of.

    These include:

    • Abnormal pregnancies
    • Breathing problems
    • Liver toxicity
    • Early puberty
    • Allergic reaction
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