Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Aromatherapy Massage and Massage: Effectiveness on Emotional and Physical Wellbeing

It has been well established that stress is one of the leading factors of chemical changes in the body. Persons who suffer from high anxiety are more prone to depression, disrupted sleep, heart disease and a kaleidoscope of other health disorders. In the case of those persons suffering from a plethora of health conditions, aromatherapy massage and massage have been shown to alleviate stress and anxiety. While these natural healing techniques may not always cure disease, they can have a remarkable effect on the physical body.

What many individuals do not realize is that stress is the leading proponent in raising blood sugar levels and blood pressure, red blood cell over activity, constricted blood vessels, racing pulse, and digestive problems.[4] These facts prove that stress can have a very negative impact on overall health.

In a report by the Research Institute of Nursing Science (College of Nursing Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea)[1], aromatherapy massage was studied on elderly women in Korea to determine its efficacy on anxiety and self-esteem issues.

In the study, aromatherapy massage was administered using aromatic essential oils, such as chamomile, lavender, lemon and rosemary. Overall, the study lasted seven (7) weeks in duration. During that time frame, aromatherapy massage sessions were set three (3) times per week, with each session being 20 minutes. After the initial three-week period, a one-week intermission ensued, and then continued the remaining three weeks. While blood pressure and pulse rate were not significantly affected, remarkable differences were clearly established in regard to anxiety and self-esteem.

In another study, aromatherapy massage was administered to older patients suffering from constipation. In the 10-day study, the experimental group was given abdominal aromatherapy massage; using the essential oils lemon, peppermint and rosemary. The control group, too, was given massage; but without the aid of aromatherapy. Upon commencement of the study, levels of constipation were measured by the constipation assessment scale (CAS). While the results found that the average number of bowel movements had improved in both groups (being treated with both aromatherapy massage and placebo massage); the experimental group who had received the aromatherapy massage showed a significant improvement. Purportedly, the aromatherapy massage demonstrated that its effects lasted for two (2) weeks after treatment; whereas non-aromatherapy massage lasted approximately seven to ten days (7-10). In conclusion, the study found that aromatherapy, coupled with massage does help ease geriatric constipation.[2]

Other research suggests that both aromatherapy massage and massage are beneficial to persons suffering from cancer. In a study performed by Princess Alice Hospice in the UK, patients were administered both aromatherapy massage and massage alone during a four-week course. To assess its efficacy on physical and psychological symptoms, both techniques were randomly administered to patients with advanced stages of cancer. The findings were promising, as significant sleep patterns were enhanced in both the aromatherapy massage group and the massage-alone group. In addition, depression levels were statistically significant in the massage group. Overall, the study showed that patients who had heightened levels of distress were more likely to respond to both aromatherapy massage and massage alone.[3]

In conclusion, we have learned that stress-related disorders and health complications can be significantly reduced and/or alleviated by natural healing techniques such as aromatherapy massage, massage and other noninvasive health treatments.

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