When it comes to the mind-body connection, aromatherapy can play a huge role when it comes to effective pain relief. According to Dr. Mehmet Oz, professor of surgery at Columbia University in New York City, aromatherapy helps reduce feelings of pain, feelings of anxiety and can further reduce recovery times after surgery.
“Aromatherapy is effective because it works directly on the amygdala, the brain’s emotion center. This has important consequences because the thinking part of the brain can’t inhibit the effects of the scent, meaning you feel them instantaneously.”
In a recent article on www.oprah.com , he further stated how aromatherapy works: “The nose is a gateway to the mind, and researchers have discovered that scents can influence your mood in powerful ways. For example, one recent study from the Medical University of Vienna found that the smell of both oranges and lavender lifted the moods of patients about to undergo dental procedures. If that's enough to make people facing a root canal happy, imagine what it could do for you. Try placing some lavender oil on your desk at work and taking a whiff when you're feeling down.”
He further stated in an article in the NY Daily News back in 2000 that “pain is very much related to your anxiety and tension level, so if you can remove the fear and the tension, then the pain goes down.”
Dr. Oz and his research collaborator, Dr. Jane Buckle, a clinical aromatherapist, found that an effective combination which patients said helped in their surgery recovery was a mixture of 15 drops of an essential oil like eucalyptus, chamomile or lavender diluted with two tablespoons of a neutral oil like almond oil, jojoba oil, or avocado oil. The mixture was simply dabbed on the skin whenever the patient felt that they needed relief from pain or anxiety; and they reported that the effects were felt instantly.
Dr. Alan Hirsch, a neurologist at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago further backs up Dr. Oz’s findings, but claims that limitation to essential oils is not necessary, and for maximum effectiveness, exposure to the scent should only be brief. “Short-term exposure is key because people stop responding to scents after a few minutes.”
However, all aromatherapists do warn that some essential oils can provoke allergic reactions in people; therefore, before trying a “do-it-yourself” approach, visit a professional practitioner, and discuss with your doctor to see if aromatherapy is the right mind-body therapy for you to experience effective pain relief.