Aromatherapy in End of Life Care

Aromatherapy in End of Life Care

  Published to Other News on Jun 07, 2017

This Aromatherapy Week, our Complementary Therapists, Lisa and Varsha, talk about the benefit of aromatherapy in palliative and end of life care:

Symptom control for patients is our primary concern, such as nausea, breathlessness, anxiety and pain and there are many different ways in which essential oils can be administered for this.

We have to adapt treatments to suit the individual patients and their needs and this includes selecting the right essential and carrier oils.

On our inpatient ward we use aroma-diffusers with lime or ginger oils to help if people are feeling nauseous. A lot of research has gone into what oils can be used to help lift mood, such as citrus oils like mandarin, lemon and orange. Even though some oils have uplifting effects like eucalyptus and mandarin, they also have a calming effect on people. We use this technique in public areas of the inpatient ward to help calm visitors. Other symptoms can be alleviated through aromatherapy by massaging with oils to relieve pain. 

We also use inhaler sticks with essential oils and patients can keep these so they are with them all the time. They work well for anxiety for upcoming appointments or if people are returning home and need help relaxing. We combine oils into these inhaler sticks depending on what each individual needs. 

Most oils blend well but there are some which you would typically use to complement each other, however we do sometimes blend strange combinations which just work! 

Patients’ medication and treatment may make their skin more sensitive so we have to be very careful what we use. If people have had chemotherapy or have breast cancer we need to make sure we don’t use anything that could interfere with treatment as some oils can create a hormonal imbalance.  Carrier oils can have huge benefits to patient wellbeing instead of essential oils in these situations. We use peach kernel oil a lot as it is really high in omega vitamins. 

We have lots that are fragrance free and only use oils with 100% purity. Aromatherapy can really help relieve our patient’s symptoms, such as sunflower oil for pressure sores as it helps with healing or aloe vera gel for a facial mask which leaves skin feeling beautiful. 

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