Benefits of Aromatherapy in Nursing Practice

Aromatherapy in NursingFragrances have the power to evoke your emotions in ways that are often unrecognized. Think back to the last time you woke up to smelling cinnamon rolls in the oven, or that new car smell that energizes you on the road. Or how about that enlightened feeling when you breath in crisp mountain air. Scents impact our mood and well-being in a very unique and powerful way.

We encounter fragrances all the time; some of which can be more pleasing than others. The holistic healing practice of aromatherapy identifies fragrances that have a direct impact on different areas of well-being and captures them into essential oils that can be administered to a client or patient. Some examples of fragrances often used are lavender, eucalyptus and ginger. These are all organic materials that are broken down and mixed into an essential oil that is a condensed and potent.

In spas or healing centers, aromatherapy is just one aspect of the holistic health practice. Aromatherapists will encourage their client also focus on living a life of purpose, good nutrition, fitness in addition to relaxation techniques.

An aromatherapy session begins by the client taking a sensory journey through the plethora of fragrances. The client will not know the names of the scents. The purpose of the exercise is to let the body respond to the smells and identify the scent that it needs to find balance. Each fragrance has a different affect on the body so if there are high stress levels, the body may respond to the lavender oils since that fragrance helps with relaxation and will counteract the stress... thus finding balance. A client who is feeling lethargic may gravitate towards eucalyptus which has revitalization effects.

Nurses training in advanced practice care and integrative medicine are having success using aromatherapy to help their patients deal with discomfort and pain from injury or disease. This alternative technique is part of holistic nursing that focuses on empowering the mind of the patient to focus on feelings of healing and relaxation rather than on fear and pain.

It is important for nurses in a hospital setting to integrate both western medicine and holistic techniques for helping patients heal especially when the medication is just not enough. Aurora Ocampo who is a nurse instructor and clinical nurse specialist for integrative medicine describes a patient experience where he was being given strong pain medication intravenously and even that was not enough to get him to stop screaming from the pain. She then administered aromatherapy oil to his skin and helped him focus on basic relaxation and quickly transitioned him to a restful state.

Some patients may resist the treatment on first hearing that it is aromatherapy thinking that it won't be worth the effort. It is worth encouraging them to try it anyway as they may have never experienced a session of pampering and massaging with effective oils. A session as part of a medical treatment may be effective enough that they incorporate it into their lives going forward as part of a full circle healthy life of purpose, nutrition, fitness and relaxation. In Aurora's story, her patient said to her after the treatment "This is putting the CARE back in healthcare".

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by Linda Bright

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