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Aromatherapy and Reflexology Reduce Pain, Anxiety Associated with Alternative Cancer Treatment

 10 months ago       154 Views

Non-pharmacologic integrative medicine approaches such as aromatherapy and reflexology can dramatically reduce the pain and anxiety associated with cervical radiation therapy, according to a clinical study currently underway at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center—Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC—James).

Because standard radiation treatment can damage healthy tissue, brachytherapy is an alternative that uses an implanted device to focus the radiation as close to the tumor as possible and spare normal tissue.

To see if aromatherapy and reflexology could mitigate this anxiety, Blackburn and her team randomly assigned 50 women undergoing brachytherapy to one of 2 groups: a control group and an experimental group that received aromatherapy with 3 essential oils to choose from (peppermint, lavender, and lemon), in an adjustable fan diffuser, along with a 30-minute foot reflexology session during the downtime after the device was placed and before treatment.

Researchers first measured each patient’s baseline anxiety level on a scale of 0-10, then measured pain levels and re-checked anxiety levels at 5 times throughout the treatment when pain and anxiety were highest: upon arrival to the procedure area; at applicator placement; after placement and before treatment; during treatment; and finally during the applicator removal.

The researchers then averaged each patient’s score and factored in the amount of pain and anxiety medication they required throughout treatment.

“A lot of times with cancer patients, we virtually take all of their control away, especially when they’re in active treatment.

To make this happen, Blackburn explains, education is key—especially for nurses.

While not all institutions offer resources like these, self-education on the basics of integrative therapies is just as important.

We have to expand our toolkits and offer so much more to nurses to teach them how to be the best advocate they can be for their patients,” said Blackburn.

If we’re giving them pharmacological interventions, we ought to give them the benefit of at least introducing them to the non-pharmacological options.”

Author: @DailyCupofYoga


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