Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) can be difficult to live with, making every little activity exhausting and overwhelming to complete. In our most recent blog post, we explored some self-care methods that can help relieve CRF and other types of chronic fatigue, including supplements and acupressure massages. We recommended using lavender and peppermint essential oils to complement your acupressure massage and boost its effectiveness.
For cancer patients, these essential oils have a myriad of other benefits. In addition to helping combat fatigue, lavender and peppermint can be effective for treating many common side effects of cancer and its treatment. Let’s take a closer at lavender oil, and explore its calming and healing properties.
Lavender: Fragrant, Relaxing, and Good for Sleep
Sweet and floral scented, lavender oil can be diffused or inhaled directly, or rubbed onto the skin. You can also take lavender dietary supplements in the form of capsules, and some extracts can be used to flavor food or drinks. Unless you have an allergy to the plant, it is generally safe for anyone to use.
In Eastern medicine, lavender has long since been used to soothe feelings of unrest, because it calms and regulates Heart Qi (energy). Countless studies have revealed its relaxing properties, showing it to improve sleep and mood, and reduce anxiety. These studies show lavender to be effective for relieving insomnia, noting that it improved patients’ quality of sleep, increased wakefulness during the day, and reduced the side effects of insomnia medication.
Lavender can also have a calming effect on the nervous system, brain, and emotional states. In one study, 20 healthy participants were split into two groups, with one group asked to inhale lavender oil, and the other sweet almond oil. The group inhaling the lavender oil experienced “significant decreases of blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature.” Overall, they were much less anxious and their mood was lifted, leading them to feel more refreshed, relaxed, and active.
Treating Cancer Symptom Clusters with Lavender
If you or someone you love is being treated for cancer, you’ve probably heard of cancer “symptom clusters.” These are related symptoms experienced at the same time, like nausea and vomiting, and fatigue and sleep disturbance. Complementary therapies like acupuncture can be highly successful in the management of cancer symptom clusters. Performing a daily acupressure massage at home with lavender oil can sustain and enhance the treatment’s effectiveness between sessions.
Lavender has been used for centuries to treat a wide variety of conditions. It’s known for restoring balance to the body, and many cancer patients have found it effective for treating symptoms ranging from hair loss to mouth abscesses, infections, and bruising. It can also aid mental clarity, which can relieve some of the concentration and memory problems (known as “chemo brain”) that patients often experience after chemotherapy.
For patients with fatigue and other cancer-related symptoms, the soothing properties of lavender can be hugely effective. Rubbing lavender oil on your relaxation acupoints as part of your daily acupressure massage can lead to a better, more restful night’s sleep. You may find you have more energy throughout the day, a reduction in symptoms, and a calmer, happier outlook on life.
In our next blog post, we’ll explore the healing and rejuvenating properties of peppermint for fatigue. If you’d like to learn more about self-care methods you can use between your acupuncture sessions, speak to your acupuncturist.