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A randomized, controlled cross-over trial of dermally-applied lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) oil as a treatment of agitated behaviour in dementia


O'Connor, Daniel W., Eppingstall, Barbara, Taffe, John, van der Ploeg, Eva S


BMC Complementary And Alternative Medicine, Volume: 13, Pages.: 315-315

Year of Publication



Background: Lavender essential oil shows evidence of sedative properties in neurophysiological and animal studies but clinical trials of its effectiveness as a treatment of agitation in people with dementia have shown mixed results. Study methods have varied widely, however, making comparisons hazardous. To help remedy previous methodological shortcomings, we delivered high grade lavender oil in specified amounts to nursing home residents whose agitated behaviours were recorded objectively.; Methods: 64 nursing home residents with frequent physically agitated behaviours were entered into a randomized, single-blind cross-over trial of dermally-applied, neurophysiologically active, high purity 30% lavender oil versus an inactive control oil. A blinded observer counted the presence or absence of target behaviours and rated participants’ predominant affect during each minute for 30 minutes prior to exposure and for 60 minutes afterwards.; Results: Lavender oil did not prove superior to the control oil in reducing the frequency of physically agitated behaviours or in improving participants’ affect.; Conclusions: Studies of essential oils are constrained by their variable formulations and uncertain pharmacokinetics and so optimal dosing and delivery regimens remain speculative. Notwithstanding this, topically delivered, high strength, pure lavender oil had no discernible effect on affect and behaviour in a well-defined clinical sample.; Trial Registration: Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN 12609000569202).;

Bibtex Citation

@article{O_Connor_2013, doi = {10.1186/1472-6882-13-315}, url = {}, year = 2013, publisher = {Springer Nature}, volume = {13}, number = {1}, pages = {315}, author = {Daniel W O'Connor and Barbara Eppingstall and John Taffe and Eva S van der Ploeg}, title = {A randomized, controlled cross-over trial of dermally-applied lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) oil as a treatment of agitated behaviour in dementia}, journal = {{BMC} Complementary and Alternative Medicine} }


administration & dosage, aged, aged, 80 and over, animals, aromatherapy, australia, chemistry, complications, dementia, drug therapy, etiology, female, humans, lavandula, lavender, male, oil, oils volatile, plant oils, psychology, psychomotor agitation, treatment outcome

Countries of Study


Types of Dementia

Dementia (general / unspecified)

Types of Study

Randomised Controlled Trial

Type of Outcomes



Nursing Homes

Type of Interventions

Non-pharmacological Treatment

Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions

Complementary therapies