Lavender oil aromatherapy, calorie restriction

Created date

November 1st, 2019
Dr. Jennifer Tam is the medical director at Linden Ponds, in Hingham, Mass.

Dr. Jennifer Tam is the medical director at Linden Ponds, in Hingham, Mass.

Q: Can aromatherapy with lavender oil improve health?

A: People have used lavender in various forms for many years to help with problems, including gastrointestinal symptoms, low mood, anxiety, pain, and poor sleep. Despite years of research, however, there is not enough scientific evidence to say with certainty that lavender is effective for health conditions. Most studies on the topic have been small, of a poor quality, or have shown mixed results. 

Lavender oil is generally considered safe, so if it seems to work for you, there are no known hazards to aromatherapy if done safely and properly. The oil might cause irritation if exposed to skin, and since seniors have delicate skin, they should use caution if handling it. Also, to keep you in your best health, your health care provider should know about everything you do to manage your health, including aromatherapy.


Q: Can restricting daily calories prevent aging?

A: A calorie-restricted diet is lower in calories than a normal diet, but still contains all necessary nutrients. Some animal research has shown that 40% fewer daily calories than normal can have a positive effect on disease risk, markers of aging, and life span. As far as humans go, a large study sponsored by the National Institute on Aging showed that people who reduced their calories by about 12% for two years had some reduced risk factors—lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol for age-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. In addition, they had decreases in some inflammatory factors and thyroid hormones. It is important to note that the calorie restrictions resulted in the study subjects having a normal to overweight body weight, and that the oldest subjects were middle-aged. 

This is only one study, and long-term effects of calorie restriction are not known. Proper nutrition, especially for seniors, is crucial, and sufficient calories are necessary to make enough energy to carry out normal bodily functions. If you have chronic medical conditions, you may need more calories than you already take in. Talk to your doctor or a dietitian about your nutritional needs.  

Health and wellness experts practice exclusively at Erickson Living communities all over the U.S. Dr. Tam received her bachelor’s degree in biology and her medical degree from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. She completed her internship and a joint residency in internal medicine and primary care at the Sound Shore Medical Center of Westchester in New Rochelle, N.Y. Tam is board-certified in geriatric medicine and has a fellowship in geriatrics from Harvard Medical School. She joined Linden Ponds in October 2005.