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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2017, Article ID 9416305, 8 pages
Review Article

Aromatherapy and Aromatic Plants for the Treatment of Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia in Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease: Clinical Evidence and Possible Mechanisms

1Department of Pharmacy, Health Science and Nutrition, University of Calabria, 87036 Rende, Italy
2Department of Pharmacy and Drug Science, University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, 70125 Bari, Italy
3Department of Chemistry, University of Florence, Sesto Fiorentino, 50019 Florence, Italy
4Department of Health Sciences, University “Magna Græcia” of Catanzaro, 88100 Catanzaro, Italy
5First Department of Pharmacology, Daiichi College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Fukuoka, Japan
6Department of Physiology and Anatomy, Tohoku Pharmaceutical University, Sendai, Japan

Correspondence should be addressed to Giacinto Bagetta; ti.lacinu@attegab.g

Received 22 January 2017; Accepted 2 March 2017; Published 30 March 2017

Academic Editor: Michele Navarra

Copyright © 2017 Damiana Scuteri et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The treatment of agitation and aggression, typical Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSDs) of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), is one of the most complicated aspects of handling patients suffering from dementia. Currently, the management of these symptoms often associated with an increased pain perception, which notably reduces the patients’ quality of life (QoL), relies on the employment of antipsychotic drugs. Unfortunately, the use of these pharmacological agents has some limits: in the long term, they do not result in being equally effective as in the first weeks of treatment and they present important side effects. Therefore, there is growing interest, supported by clinical evidence, in aromatherapy for the control of agitation, aggression, and psychotic symptoms. Some molecular mechanisms have been proposed to explain the behavioural effects of essential oils, as the whole phytocomplex or the single components, but important basic research effort is still needed. For this reason, rigorous preclinical studies are necessary in order to understand the pharmacological basis of aromatherapy in the treatment of BPSDs and to widen the cluster of effective essential oils in pharmacotherapeutic practice.