Aromatherapy Massage Studies
Massage using essential oils in a carrier oil is also known as 'aromatherapy massage'. Aromatherapy massage has been studied in clinical settings for its effect on the subjective wellbeing of patients, as well as for changes in physiological markers such as cortisol levels, white blood cell activity and the like. In general, aromatherapy massage seems to help patient's conditions, though some of the markers tested for do not always show statistically significant improvements. It would be interesting to see results if first the patients were allowed to select their favorite aromas for the blend, as we all know how many scents are loved by some and not by others. Aromatherapists would point out that this is a psycho-emotional response which should be listened to for best results with aromatherapy. Here's a few of the studies:
An evaluation of aromatherapy massage in palliative care.
Wilkinson S, Aldridge J, Salmon I, Cain E, Wilson B. Marie Curie Cancer Care, London, UK.
The use of complementary therapies, such as massage and aromatherapy massage, is rising in popularity among patients and healthcare professionals. They are increasingly being used to improve the quality of life of patients, but there is little evidence of their efficacy. This study assessed the effects of massage and aromatherapy massage on cancer patients in a palliative care setting. We studied 103 patients, who were randomly allocated to receive massage using a carrier oil (massage) or massage using a carrier oil plus the Roman chamomile essential oil (aromatherapy massage). Outcome measurements included the Rotterdam Symptom Checklist (RSCL), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and a semi-structured questionnaire, administered 2 weeks postmassage, to explore patients' perceptions of massage. There was a statistically significant reduction in anxiety after each massage on the STAI essential oils appears to reduce levels of anxiety. The addition of an essential oil seems to enhance the effect of massage and to improve physical and psychological symptoms, as well as overall quality of life. A randomized controlled trial of aromatherapy massage in a hospice setting.
Soden K, Vincent K, Craske S, Lucas C, Ashley S.Princess Alice Hospice, Esher, Surrey, UK.
Research suggests that patients with cancer, particularly in the palliative care setting, are increasingly using aromatherapy and massage. There is good evidence that these therapies may be helpful for anxiety reduction for short periods, but few studies have looked at the longer term effects. This study was designed to compare the effects of four-week courses of aromatherapy massage and massage alone on physical and psychological symptoms in patients with advanced cancer. Forty-two patients were randomly allocated to receive weekly massages with lavender essential oil and an inert carrier oil (aromatherapy group), an inert carrier oil only (massage group) or no intervention. Outcome measures included a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) of pain intensity, the Verran and Snyder-Halpern (VSH) sleep scale, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) scale and the Rotterdam Symptom Checklist (RSCL). We were unable to demonstrate any significant long-term benefits of aromatherapy or massage in terms of improving pain control, anxiety or quality of life. However, sleep scores improved significantly in both the massage and the combined massage (aromatherapy and massage) groups. There were also statistically significant reductions in depression scores in the massage group. In this study of patients with advanced cancer, the addition of lavender essential oil did not appear to increase the beneficial effects of massage. Our results do suggest, however, that patients with high levels of psychological distress respond best to these therapies.
Aromatherapy and massage for symptom relief in patients with cancer.
Fellowes D, Barnes K, Wilkinson S.Marie Curie Palliative Care Research and Development Unit, Marie Curie Cancer Care, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Royal Free and University College Medical School, Royal Free Campus, Rowland Hill Street, London, London, UK, NW3 2PF.
BACKGROUND: Aromatherapy massage is a commonly used complementary therapy, and is employed in cancer and palliative care largely to improve quality of life and reduce psychological distress. OBJECTIVES: To investigate whether aromatherapy and/or massage decreases psychological morbidity, lessens symptom distress and/or improves the quality of life in patients with a diagnosis of cancer. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched CENTRAL (Cochrane Library Issue 1 2002), MEDLINE (1966 to May week 3 2002), CINAHL (1982 to April 2002), British Nursing Index (1994 to April 2002), EMBASE (1980 to Week 25 2002), AMED (1985 to April 2002), PsycINFO (1887 to April week 4 2002), SIGLE (1980 to March 2002), CancerLit (1975 to April 2002) and Dissertation Abstracts International (1861 to March 2002). Reference lists of relevant articles were searched for additional studies. SELECTION CRITERIA: We sought randomised controlled trials; controlled before and after studies; and interrupted time series studies of aromatherapy and/or massage for patients with cancer, that measured changes in patient-reported levels of physical or psychological distress or quality of life using reliable and valid tools. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers independently assessed trials for inclusion in the review, assessed study quality and extracted data. Study authors were contacted where information was unclear. MAIN RESULTS: The search strategy retrieved 1322 references. Ten reports met the inclusion criteria and these represented eight RCTs (357 patients). The most consistently found effect of massage or aromatherapy massage was on anxiety. Four trials (207 patients) measuring anxiety detected a reduction post intervention, with benefits of 19-32% reported. Contradictory evidence exists as to any additional benefit on anxiety conferred by the addition of aromatherapy. The evidence for the impact of massage/aromatherapy on depression was variable. Of the three trials (120 patients) that assessed depression in cancer patients, only one found any significant differences in this symptom. Three studies (117 patients) found a reduction in pain following intervention, and two (71 patients) found a reduction in nausea. Although several of the trials measured changes in other symptoms such as fatigue, anger, hostility, communication and digestive problems, none of these assessments was replicated. REVIEWERS' CONCLUSIONS: Massage and aromatherapy massage confer short term benefits on psychological wellbeing, with the effect on anxiety supported by limited evidence. Effects on physical symptoms may also occur. Evidence is mixed as to whether aromatherapy enhances the effects of massage. Replication, longer follow up, and larger trials are need to accrue the necessary evidence.
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