Aromatherapy is "the therapeutic use of essential oils extracted from aromatic plants," and it is a "simple, low-risk and cost-effective method" that can help manage preoperative anxiety. This treatment is "fast-acting, noninvasive, has minimal side effects, and can be applied in multiple forms, including massage, inhalation, compress, and baths with mineral and herbal substances," making it an ideal option for addressing anxiety in patients.
Lavender is an important essential oil with various applications and few reported sensitivities, and it is known for its "sedative and relaxing effects." However, the details on how lavender exerts its anxiolytic effects remain unknown. Linalool and linalyl acetate, two components of the lavender plant, can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. Linalyl acetate is categorized as a narcotic while linalool can act as a sedative.
How the study was conducted
The scientists involved in the study observed that lavender aromatherapy helped reduce preoperative anxiety among ambulatory surgery patients undergoing procedures in general otolaryngology.
The study monitored 100 patients, and the experimental group received inhalation lavender aromatherapy in the preoperative waiting area. Meanwhile, the control group received standard nursing care. Both groups reported their anxiety with a visual analog scale after arriving at the preoperative waiting area and once they left for the operating room. As per a Welch's two sample t-test, the researchers determined that the mean reduction in anxiety was significantly greater in the experimental group than the control group.
The team concluded that the lavender aromatherapy reduced preoperative anxiety in ambulatory surgery patients. While the effect was modest, it is "possibly statistically significant." Future study is required to determine the clinical efficacy of lavender aromatherapy.
Notwithstanding the severity of surgical intervention, patients often experience anxiety caused by "fear of the operation, anesthesia, and postoperative pain." Preoperative anxiety can negatively impact patient satisfaction and outcomes, and this emotional state is connected to "an increased use of narcotics and anesthetics, prolonged duration of hospitalization and postoperative wound healing, and reduced ability to fight infection and comprehend information about surgery."
While pharmacologic therapies like sedatives and opioids are used to treat preoperative anxiety, these medications have negative side-effects such as fatigue, confusion, and restlessness. They can also inhibit a patient's capacity to actively participate in his or her postoperative care, which can cause a delay in hospital discharge.