My patient L.T. is a 35 year old woman who just recently migrated from West Africa. She is a mother of four children, ranging from two years of age to 12 years of age, and she has just been newly diagnosed with early cervical cancer. Even though this patient has a family history of cervical cancer (her mother died from complications of cervical cancer with metastatic) prior to her diagnosis L.T. was asymptomatic, so this came as a shock to both her and her husband of 12 years. Due to her family history of cancer and the fact that she already has children (one girl and three boys) my patients treatment of choice is to have a radical hysterectomy performed. Even though she understands the necessity of the surgery and is in agreement with the procedure, L.T. is presently experiencing a lot of stress, anxiety and periods of depression not only due to her new diagnosis or questions of if the cancer would come back after treatment, but also about her sex life post-surgery and any deformities that accompany such a major surgery.
Stress and anxiety can be psychologically crippling, not only causing disruptive sleep or work but also lowering a patients’ resistance and making an already sick person even more susceptible to infection and illness. Therefore, controlling my patient’s stress and anxiety level at this point in time is very crucial, reason why I choose Aromatherapy as a complementary therapy for this patient. Aromatherapy which is a form of alternative medicine can be traced back thousands of years ago when the Egyptians where known to burn incense made from aromatic wood, spices and herbs in honor of their gods. The ancient Egyptians strongly believed that as the smoke rose up to heaven, it would carry their prayers and wishes straight to the gods. Furthermore, the Egyptians used the technique of distillation to extract the oils from the fragrant plants and these oils were then used for therapeutic and cosmetic purposes, as well as embalming the dead.
They also used the essences of the plants to perform their religious rites, since they believed that certain scents originating from specific plants raised ones mindfulness. Thus, in due course, the progress of aromatics as medicines would breed the fundamentals that aromatherapy was built upon. In essence the history of aromatherapy is inevitably related to the development of aromatic medicine, which in the early days was combined with religion, magic and mysticism (Fontaine, 2011). Aromatherapy is the practice of using volatile plant oils, pure essential oils obtained from a wide variety of plants which have been steamed distilled or cold-pressed from shrubs, flowers, fruits, seeds and roots to promote psychological and physical well-being (Fontaine, 2011).
Aromatherapy stimulates the immune system by acting on the central nervous system, eventually relaxing and uplifting ones emotional state, reducing stress, relieving depression and anxiety, stimulating and even sedating in order to restore both emotional and physical well-being. Additionally, the use of appropriate oils can have powerful effects; aromatherapy can also be effective in easing a wide variety of diseases, soothing aches, pains and injuries and thus relieving the discomfort of numerous health problems (Schnaubelt, 2011). A recent research study has found that marjoram essential oil increases the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is involved in the transmission of nerve impulses. Serotonin is involved in regulating mood and an imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that leads to depression Additionally, several studies over the past few years have found that Alzheimer’s sufferers became less agitated and restless when treated with lavender and lemon balm essential oils.
Another research has shown that ylang-ylang essential oil boosts the body’s production of endorphins, a hormone that produces feelings of well-being and pain reduction (Schnaubelt, 2011). Hence, I would tell my patient that any time she feels the urge to scream at the kids out of frustration, or anytime she feels depressed, it would be a good idea to take out the lavender essential oil and its microscopic chemicals would immediately trigger her nervous system to calm down, thereby relaxing her muscles. Due to the fact that my patient is of West African heritage she is very much open to the idea of aromatherapy. She tells a story of how back in her native land her maternal grandmother usually goes into the bushes and picks out a bunch of different leaves, shrubs and the back of tree trunks to boil and either drink or use in bathing.
She mentions how her mother had told her that it was to cleanse her body and ultimately help her grandmother with bodily aches. L.T. is optimistic about her newly gained knowledge and greatly appreciates it, acknowledging that she is pretty sure it would help her distress during this time of unpredictable crisis in her life. She promises to visit the mall in search of some aromatherapy stress reduction essential oils to purchase as soon as possible. I educated her on available websites where she could purchase quality essential oils, and also how she can do her own research online on different aromatherapy products available for stress and anxiety reduction. In conclusion, it is a proven fact that if used properly aromatherapy does work well with alternative medicine and treatments; it is a confirmed natural remedy for stress and anxiety relief.
Fontaine, K. L. (2011). Complementary & alternative therapies for nursing practice. (3rd ed. ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education. Schnaubelt, K. (2011). The healing intelligence of essential oils the science of advanced aromatherapy. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.