July 29, 2021
Aromatherapy refers to the medicinal or therapeutic use of essential oils absorbed through the skin or olfactory system. Essential oils, which are derived from plants, are used to treat illness as well as to enhance physical and psychological well-being. Although many claims have been made relating to the benefits of aromatherapy, most research has focused on its use to manage depression, anxiety, muscle tension, sleep disturbance, nausea, and pain. Some studies suggest that olfactory stimulation related to aromatherapy can result in immediate reduction in pain, as well as changing physiological parameters such as pulse, blood pressure, skin temperature, and brain activity.
Aromatherapy is most commonly applied topically, or through inhalation. When applied topically, the oil is usually added to carrier oil and used for massage. Essential oils can be inhaled through a humidifier or by soaking gauze and placing it near the patient.
Even though aromatherapy is commonly used and has been practiced for centuries, few high quality empirical reviews have examined its effectiveness in reducing pain.
A review article concluded that essential oils are useful for pain management, particularly acute pain related to injury, surgical procedure, and obstetric and gynecological pains. The oils that were listed as most commonly used in clinical trials include lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary, chamomile, and peppermint.