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Aromatherapy for pain, a look at the evidence.


Does Aromatherapy work for pain? I would imagine that just about every aromatherapist out there would say, “Yes it does!” This review on Pubmed  would seem to agree. I can’t quote verbatim from it currently as pubmed’s website is down right now.

However, statistics are one thing. What my clients with chronic or other pain want to know is, “Will it HELP ME?” They don’t care about whether it helps seven out of ten cats or whatever! Theyu want to reduce their own suffering.

In my experience, it is more likely to make a difference with severe chronic pain than severe acute pain. Acute pain is giving the body a message such as, “Take your hand away from the heat.” Chronic pain is often present long after an acute injury has healed or it may be from a condition such as Fibromyalgia etc. Here something is wrong with how the pain receptors in blood vessels are working. It is not a message to the body to sort something out. There is a need to disrupt the mechanism that these nerve pathways are using. That may be the pleasant sensations produced by a massage, the physiological action of the essential oils or even the emotional reaction to the aroma. All can play a part.

abdominal-massage-14172846

Abstract – now the site is back up!

“Background. Aromatherapy refers to the medicinal or therapeutic use of essential oils absorbed through the skin or olfactory system. Recent literature has examined the effectiveness of aromatherapy in treating pain. Methods. 12 studies examining the use of aromatherapy for pain management were identified through an electronic database search. A meta-analysis was performed to determine the effects of aromatherapy on pain. Results. There is a significant positive effect of aromatherapy (compared to placebo or treatments as usual controls) in reducing pain reported on a visual analog scale (SMD = -1.18, 95% CI: -1.33, -1.03; p < 0.0001). Secondary analyses found that aromatherapy is more consistent for treating nociceptive (SMD = -1.57, 95% CI: -1.76, -1.39, p < 0.0001) and acute pain (SMD = -1.58, 95% CI: -1.75, -1.40, p < 0.0001) than inflammatory (SMD = -0.53, 95% CI: -0.77, -0.29, p < 0.0001) and chronic pain (SMD = -0.22, 95% CI: -0.49, 0.05, p = 0.001), respectively. Based on the available research, aromatherapy is most effective in treating postoperative pain (SMD = -1.79, 95% CI: -2.08, -1.51, p < 0.0001) and obstetrical and gynecological pain (SMD = -1.14, 95% CI: -2.10, -0.19, p < 0.0001). Conclusion. The findings of this study indicate that aromatherapy can successfully treat pain when combined with conventional treatments.”

One area where a high quality study has been carried out is with Menstrual Pain, where the initial study compared abdominal massage with ginger essential oil compared with Thai Massage through clothes. The Abdominal massage group did considerably better. However this could have been the abdominal massage rather than the aromatherapy component . A further study was done comparing the abdominal massage with and without the ginger oil. Again the Aromatherapy group did significantly better.

So, if you wish to see how Aromatherapy Massage can help you with pain, do email me or phone. dave@cambridgearomatherapy.com or 07939273569 to book an appointment either in Trumpington or Central Cambridge.

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