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Aromatherapy as Treatment for Postoperative Nausea

Postoperative nausea (PON) is a common complication of anesthesia and surgery, and those who have experienced it understand that the symptoms can be incredibly distressing. Antiemetic medication may reduce the severity of nausea, but it does not reliably prevent PON. In a study published by Anesthesia & Analgesia, experts conducted a randomized trial of aromatherapy with patients who reported nausea in the post-anesthesia care unit with the intention of studying whether or not aromatherapy would be an effective alternative medicine for PON. 

The study was a clinical trial to examine the reduction in the severity of nausea using aromatherapy with essential oil of ginger, an essential oil blend of ginger, spearmint, peppermint, and cardamom, and 70 percent isopropyl alcohol in comparison with a normal saline placebo. The aromas chosen for the study were selected on the basis of traditional applications advocated by aromatherapists for the treatment of nausea. A total of 1151 subjects were screened for the study, 303 of which reported nausea, and 301 met the protocol and were then studied further. Seven risk factors were significant predictors of nausea for this sample: a history of motion sickness or PON, surgery that was longer than 60 minutes, volatile gas anesthesia, opioids after surgery, female gender, gynecological surgery, and gastrointestinal surgery.

The measure of nausea was a verbal, descriptive four-point scale from 0 to 3, with zero being none, 1 being some, 2 being a lot, and 3 being severe. After surgery, research nurses collected data on the time surgery began and ended, nitrous oxide or volatile gas anesthesia, the type of surgery, and administration of any intraoperative antiemetic medications. Each participant was instructed to inhale the aroma via the nose and exhale through the mouth three times.

73 patients received normal saline, 78 received 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, 76 received essential oil of ginger, and 74 received the blend of essential oils of ginger, spearmint, peppermint, and cardamom. All four groups had shifted toward reduced nausea, with the ginger and blend groups having the most significant shifts. The odds of having a greater reduction in PON with ginger versus saline were almost 2 to 1, and for the blend versus saline, the odds were nearly 3 to 1. The odds of greater PON reduction with ginger and blend versus alcohol were also fairly large. For all three outcomes, ginger and blend were both superior to either saline or alcohol.

The study concluded that aromatherapy using oil of ginger or a blend of ginger, spearmint, peppermint, and cardamom were an effective treatment in reducing nausea severity that often occurs after anesthesia. Aromatherapy also reduced the number of requests for antiemetic medication due to PON. The hypothesis that aromatherapy would be effective as a treatment for PON was undeniably supported in this study.

Aromatherapy is promising as an inexpensive, noninvasive treatment for PON that can be administered and controlled by patients as needed, and our experts and Balanced Health plus® are so thrilled to know that there are studies that legitimize our philosophies and practices. Enjoy the natural benefits of aromatherapy with any one of our many products, like AROMAID Soothe, AROMAID Calm, and AROMAID Relax and start your journey toward a nausea-free recovery thanks to Balanced Health plus®.

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