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Michigan Head & Neck Institute

Sleep Aches

01. 18. 2018

Sleep Apnea

Aromatherapy as Medical Treatment

Essential oils have been used throughout history to cure diseases and relieve symptoms of certain illnesses.  Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of these oils from plants to improve a person’s physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.  These vital compounds, which exhibit great medicinal qualities, can be found in seeds, bark, stems, roots, and flowers.  They stimulate the immune system, fight off bacterial infections, increase circulation, alleviate headaches, soothe sore muscles, and even help you get a good night’s sleep.

Some examples of essential oils used and their health advantages include:

  • Eucalyptus – used to fight migraines, fevers, respiratory issues and bacterial infections
  • Chamomile – reduces inflammation, treats chronic pain, can have antibacterial properties
  •  Bergamot – used to treat stress, anxiety, depression, skin infections and fatigue
  • Peppermint – used to boost energy levels, sharpen focus and enhance mental alertness
  • Lavender – relieves stress, treats depression, reduces inflammation, natural decongestant

Each oil has certain health benefits, so patients must find the right oil to address their specific health concerns. Patients with cancer use aromatherapy primarily as supportive care for their general health. Oils can alleviate some of the symptoms of cancer and the side effects of cancer treatments like chemotherapy.

Everyone’s body chemistry is different, so there may be a period of “trial and error” involved in this process.  Patients may need to try several different oils and/or combinations to see an improvement in symptoms and find the ones that work for them.  Once found, they can either be applied directly to the skin (massage or acupuncture) or inhaled (home humidifier, shower, bath).

Odors (both good and bad) are known to have an affect on cognitive abilities and mood – affecting men and women differently.  There are sex-specific differences in triggers of pain.  For example, women with chronic headaches are more likely to cite stress and odor exposure as the cause, where men implicate other events like exercise as a trigger.

One study done at the University of Quebec showed that women experienced less pain during exposure to pleasant aromas.  Researchers at Stanford discovered that chronic pain actually rewires the circuits in the brain as a consequence of the pain itself.

The effects of aromatherapy odors are a result of chemical components to receptors in the olfactory bulb, impacting the brain’s limbic system (the emotional center). The frontal cortex – used for taste and smell – is known to be activated by pleasant sensations of touch and sensory processing. Sensory processing in this part of the brain, which involves touch, temperature and pain, may be affected by smell (usually only in women).

Unfortunately the American Medical Association (AMA) no longer considers oils as an essential part of the medical curriculum, even though research suggests that patients do respond positively to this type of therapy.

In an article from HealthDay News published March 10, 2017, female cancer patients reported positive experiences with aromatherapy massage.  Both physical and psychological benefits included comfort, relaxation, reduced pain and muscle tension, improved sleep, energy, appetite and mood.  The women in the study felt pampered and reconnected to daily life.  It was a pleasurable experience so they could temporarily “forget” about their disease.

To find out more about aromatherapy treatments, please call our office at (586) 573-0438 or email us at info@michiganheadandneck.com.

References:

 Ibekwe E, Haigh C, Duncan F, Fatoye F. Economic impact of routine opt-out antenatal human immune deficiency virus screening: A systematic review. J Clin Nurs. 2017;26:3832–3842.

Soden K, Vincent K, Craske S, Lucas C, Ashley S. A randomized controlled trial of aromatherapy massage in a hospice setting. Palliat Med. 2004 Mar;18(2):87-92.

Montross-Thomas LP, Meier EA, Reynolds-Norolahi K, Raskin EE, Slater D, Mills PJ, MacElhern L, Kallenberg G. Inpatients’ Preferences, Beliefs, and Stated Willingness to Pay for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Treatments. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Apr;23(4):259-263. Epub 2017 Jan 23.

Shin ES, Seo KH, Lee SH, Jang JE, Jung YM, Kim MJ, Yeon JY. Massage with or without aromatherapy for symptom relief in people with cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Jun 3;(6):CD009873.

Fellowes D, Barnes K, Wilkinson S. Aromatherapy and massage for symptom relief in patients with cancer. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(2):CD002287.

Sánchez-Vidaña DI, Ngai SP, He W, Chow JK, Lau BW, Tsang HW. The Effectiveness of Aromatherapy for Depressive Symptoms: A Systematic Review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:5869315. Epub 2017 Jan 4.

 

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The contents of this website, such as text, graphics, images, and other materials are for informational purposes only. While there are many commonalities among multiple TMD and sleep apnea cases, each patient is unique. Information on this website should be used to educate the reader about what they should discuss with their doctor if they are suffering from the listed symptoms. The information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician or you may call our office with any questions you may have regarding TMD or sleep apnea. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.


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