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Aromatherapy Research News

Friday, March 12, 2010

More Studies Elicuidate the Anti Stress Effects of Essential Oils

Despite the image aromatherapy has gotten for itself in the USA, science keeps backing up the practice! While one can easily find information on the medicinal effects of many essential oils through, it's a little more rare to find articles that discuss effects of only the oils' aromas.

This just released study shows a significant anti-stress effect of Sweet Orange essential oil. We're really fond of Sweet Orange -- it's VERY uplifting, as are the citrus aromas in general. The study confirmed the effect by noting the same anti-stress (termed 'anxiolytic') effect did not occur when Tea Tree was inhaled (though I actually like the smell of Tea Tree too!)

The second study was performed using Bergamot essential oil, similar to Bitter Orange, and one of the most highly regarded anti-stress, anti-depressant essential oils. The study revealed an anti-stress result from adolescents wearing an aromatherapy necklace, spiked with Bergamot.


Study 1: Anxiolytic-like effect of sweet orange aroma in Wistar rats.

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2010 Mar 6. Faturi CB, Leite JR, Alves PB, Canton AC, Teixeira-Silva F. Universidade Federal de Sergipe-Departamento de Fisiologia e Departamento de Química, Av. Marechal Rondon, S/N-CEP 49100-000-São Cristóvão/SE-Brazil.

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils as an alternative treatment for medical purposes. Despite the lack of sufficient scientific proof, it is considered a holistic complementary therapy employed to enhance comfort and decrease distress. Citrus fragrances have been particularly used by aromatherapists for the treatment of anxiety symptoms. Based on this claim, the present study investigated the effects of Citrus sinensis (sweet orange) essential oil on Wistar, male rats evaluated in the elevated plus-maze followed by the light/dark paradigm. The animals were exposed to the orange aroma (100, 200 or 400mul) for 5min while in a Plexiglas chamber and were then immediately submitted to the behavioural tests.

At all doses, C.sinensis oil demonstrated anxiolytic activity in at least one of the tests and, at the highest dose, it presented significant effects in both animal models, as indicated by increased exploration of the open arms of the elevated plus-maze (time: p=0.004; entries: p=0.044) and of the lit chamber of the light/dark paradigm (time: p=0.030). In order to discard the possibility that this outcome was due to non-specific effects of any odour exposure, the behavioural response to Melaleuca alternifolia essential oil was also evaluated, using the same animal models, but no anxiolytic effects were observed.

These results suggest an acute anxiolytic activity of sweet orange essence, giving some scientific support to its use as a tranquilizer by aromatherapists.


Study 2: The effects of aromatherapy on stress and stress responses in adolescents

J Korean Acad Nurs. 2009 Jun;39(3):357-65. Seo JY. Department of Nursing, Youngnam Foreign Language College, Gyeongsan, Korea.

PURPOSE: This study was done to examine the effects of aromatherapy on stress and stress responses in adolescents. METHODS: A two-group cross-over design was used for this study. The experimental treatment was aroma essential oil (using Bergamot essential oil) inhalation and the placebo treatment was carrier oil inhalation using a necklace. The sample included 36 female high school students. Fisher's exact test, t-test, and paired t-test using SPSS/WIN program were used to analyze the data. RESULTS: Stress levels were significantly lower when the students received the aroma treatment compared to when they received the placebo treatment. The stress responses except salivary IgA levels were significantly lower when the students received the aroma treatment.

CONCLUSION: Aroma inhalation could be a very effective stress management method for high school students. Therefore, it is recommended that this program be used in clinical practice as an effective nursing intervention for high school students.

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