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Chronic Pain and Aromatherapy

Chronic Pain and Aromatherapy

Certain scents can provide comfort and help relax and sooth. Here’s some information and suggestions that might be helpful to you:

Aromatherapy in the modern era began in the early 20th century, when the effects of a variety of so-called essential oils (distilled from a variety of plants) began to be studied in the setting of a variety of clinical conditions. There are a variety of theories as to the mechanism of action of aromatherapy; one theory is that the limbic system of the brain is positively stimulated by these soothing smells, easing anxiety and chronic pain.

Examples of how aromatherapy is administered:

  • Indirect inhalation via a room diffuser, or the placement of drops of oil nearby.
  • Direct inhalation via an inhaler.
  • Massaging of essential oils into the skin.
  • Simple application of essential oils to the skin.

A large body of literature has been published on the effects of aromatherapy on mood, alertness, and stress, while other studies have focused on the effects of various odors on task performance, reaction time, heart rate, and blood pressure. Indeed, odors can influence mood, perceived health, and arousal, implicating therapeutic benefit of aromatherapy in the context of stressful and adverse psychological conditions.

Archaeologists tell us aromatherapy was used for pain management by the ancient Egyptians.

Some of the oils considered beneficial in the treatment of chronic pain:

• Lavender oil
• Chamomile oil
• African marigold oil
• Peppermint oil

Studies on aromatherapy have examined pain in patients in labor, chronic pain, and pain in combination with other symptoms. An article published over a decade ago theorized that aromatherapy enhanced the parasympathetic response through the effects of touch and smell, encouraging relaxation. Of course, relaxation can alter the perception of pain. The evidence suggests that aromatherapy might be at least beneficial as complementary therapy in the quest to lessen chronic pain.

More research is needed. However, as is often the case with complementary and alternative treatment modalities, financing for research is lacking. Still, this is a relatively harmless treatment; and that it might work gives added incentive to at least try it.

Leave us a comment if you use aromatherapy. Let us know which scents help you and if there are any specific products you recommend.

Excerpts taken from Psychology Today article –  Overcoming Pain.

PainPathways Magazine

PainPathways Magazine

PainPathways is the first, only and ultimate pain magazine. First published in spring 2008, PainPathways is the culmination of the vision of Richard L. Rauck, MD, to provide a shared resource for people living with and caring for others in pain. This quarterly resource not only provides in-depth information on current treatments, therapies and research studies but also connects people who live with pain, both personally and professionally.

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