Nurses Study the Benefits of Essential Oils for Stress Relief in Hospitals: Part One

Posted in For Patients

In our recent series of blog posts, we’ve explored a variety of self-care methods that can help relieve both chronic and cancer-related fatigue. These include acupressure massages that you can do at home, and the use of fragrant and uplifting essential oils. As we’ve seen, using lavender and peppermint oils as part of a daily acupressure massage can be highly effective for soothing feelings of unrest, promoting sleep, and boosting your energy levels throughout the day.


The benefits of using essential oils like lavender and peppermint extend far beyond reducing fatigue. Their calming and mood-enhancing effects also make them a powerful tool for combatting stress. Since stress often goes hand in hand with both cancer treatment and its side effects, including fatigue, this property makes essential oils especially beneficial for self-care.


Patients are not the only people who can benefit from the use of these oils. In a 2012 study, nurses working in the highly demanding emergency room of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center decided to test whether diffusing essential oils would relieve their work-related stress. Two registered nurses with over 20 years’ combined experience conducted the study, after forming a “wellness committee” to review research on essential oils and approve their use within the hospital environment.


After approving the oils as safe to use, the committee developed a research model to study their effectiveness. Participating staff were surveyed 30 days before and after the oils were implemented to see how their stress levels had changed. They were also asked to gauge their energy levels.


The results were startling. At the start of the experiment, 41% of the staff said that work-related stress affected them very often. After using essential oils for self-care, that number dropped to just 3%. Initially, a quarter of the participants reported feeling frequently overwhelmed at work, but only 2% felt that way after using the oils. They also felt capable of handling stressful situations in the workplace better at the end of the study, with 58% saying they were now well-equipped to cope with stressors compared to just 13% before using the oils.


The oils also drastically improved the energy levels of participants. Before the oils were introduced, only 33% said they had an optimal energy level. At the end of the study, this number had increased to 77%. They felt calmer, more invigorated, and able to cope better with stressful situations.


Overall, the results were overwhelmingly positive, with 94% of participants agreeing that the introduction of essential oils had contributed to a more positive working environment. Of these, 84% strongly agreed that this was the case.


Whether diffused or applied directly to the skin as part of a daily acupressure massage, essential oils can significantly relieve stress and fatigue in both patients and their caregivers. For patients also receiving acupuncture, the use of essential oils can help boost and prolong the treatment’s effectiveness between sessions.

In our next post, we’ll delve deeper into the benefits of essential oils for stress relief, looking at another study conducted by nurses. To learn more about how you can incorporate essential oils into your self-care regime, talk to your acupuncturist at your next session.

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