Using essential oils as part of a regular self-care routine has many benefits for both patients and caregivers. For those living with chronic fatigue and stress, lavender and peppermint oils can be hugely effective, helping to improve sleep and give you more energy throughout the day. There is also a very slim chance of having an adverse reaction to these oils, while certain medications can result in side effects that feel worse than the conditions they’re used to treat.
While many healthcare providers have yet to embrace the use of essential oils, others are realizing how beneficial these oils can be. In our last post, we explored a study conducted by nurses working in the emergency room of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The study aimed to test the effectiveness of essential oils for combating work-related stress. At the end of the experiment, staff who had used the oils reported significantly lower levels of stress, fewer instances of feeling overwhelmed at work, and more energy overall.
A similar study was conducted in 2016 by nursing staff in the preoperative holding room (where patients are prepared for surgery) of the same hospital. The researchers were concerned that high stress levels in staff were leading to exhaustion and a lower quality of patient care. They wanted to know if diffusing essential oils at the nurses station could “help lift the mood, calm the senses, increase alertness, or decrease anxiety in such a chaotic environment.” Citrus oils (lemon, lime, tangerine, and mild orange) were chosen for their mood-enhancing properties.
Participants were surveyed before the oils were implemented, and again 30 days after to measure their perceived stress. Their answers were measured using a nationally validated stress score.
Before the oils were diffused at the nursing station, the staff reported stress levels well above the national average. While diffusing, the researchers observed that workplace stress levels decreased significantly, dropping below the national average despite the demanding nature of the hospital environment.
Participants were also asked to report feelings of being overwhelmed and having a negative mood. Both were less common after the oils were introduced in the workplace, and their stress levels outside of work also dropped. Staff felt calmer, happier, and experienced much less stress than before.
While this study primarily focused on the hospital’s staff, patients also experienced the benefits. Data collected by the hospital revealed that patients felt less anxious and their blood pressure levels showed a reduction in variability. Studies like this show that the use of essential oils in hospitals may help improve patient outcomes and provide a more relaxing environment that is conducive to healing and overall wellbeing.
At 5 Point Acupuncture, we highly encourage our patients to explore the benefits of essential oils and incorporate them into your daily self-care routine. For fatigue, try peppermint oil to stimulate your senses and give you more energy, and lavender oil to relax you and help you sleep. You can diffuse the oil, or combine it with an acupressure massage to boost its effectiveness. These oils have a pleasant scent that is not overpowering, and you may find that your acupressure massage with oils becomes something you look forward to all day.
If you’d like to learn more about using essential oils, ask your acupuncturist at your next session.