Susanna Stea,Alina Beraudi,Dalila De Pasquale. Essential Oils for Complementary Treatment of Surgical Patients: State of the Art. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 726341, 6 pages

Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Bologna, Italy

 Aromatherapy is the controlled use of plant essences for therapeutic purposes. Its applications are numerous (i.e., wellbeing, labour, infections, dementia, and anxiety treatment) but often they have not been scientifically validated. The mechanism of action of inhaled aromatherapy starts with the absorption of volatile molecules through the nasal mucosa. Odor molecules are then transformed into chemical signals, which move towards the olfactory bulb, and possibly other parts of the limbic system, interacting with the neuropsychological framework to produce characteristic physiological and psychological effects.

 The aim of the present study is to review the available literature to determine if there is evidence for effectiveness of aromatherapy in surgical patients to treat anxiety and insomnia, to control pain and nausea, and to dress wound. Efficacy studies of lavender or orange and peppermint essential oils, to treat anxiety and nausea, respectively, have shown positive results. For other aspects, such as pain control, essential oils therapy has shown uncertain results. Finally, there are encouraging data for the treatment of infections, especially for tea tree oil, although current results are still inconclusive. It should also be considered that although they are, allergic reactions and toxicity can occur after oral ingestion. Therefore, while rigorous studies are being carried out, it is important that the therapeutic use of essential oils be performed in compliance with clinical safety standards.