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Pre and Post Surgery and essential oils

There is some clinical scientific evidence in favor of EO use in various phases of pre- and postoperative treatment.

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Can I use essential oils before my surgery?

The most appropriate oils to treat pre-surgical anxiety are Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) and Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) and there is a variety of literature that backs that up. One of the major components of lavender EO is linalool. Clinical evidence of the relaxing efficacy of lavender EO was obtained by Braden et al. ( R. Braden, S. Reichow, andM.A.Halm, “The use of the essential oil lavandin to reduce preoperative anxiety in surgical patients,”Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing, vol. 24, no. 6, pp. 348–355, 2009.) who enrolled 150 adult patients undergoing different types of surgery and then randomly assigned to either control (standard care), experimental (standard care plus EO lavandin, Lavandula hybrida), or sham (standard care plus jojoba oil) groups. Oils were sniffed and applied on the skin before surgery. Visual analog scales were used to assess anxiety on admission to preoperative suite and operating room transfer. It resulted in that the lavandin group showed significantly lower anxiety during operating room transfer.

Is there research about essential oils used during surgery?

It has been demonstrated that a blend of essential oils, lavender (Lavandula officinalis), roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), and neroli at a ratio of 6 : 2 : 0.5 can reduce anxiety, increase sleep, and stabilize the blood pressure of patients undergoing cardiac stent insertion.
(M. Y. Cho, E. S. Min, M. H. Hur, and M. S. Lee, “Effects of aromatherapy on the anxiety, vital signs, and sleep quality of percutaneous coronary intervention patients in intensive care units,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2013,Article ID 381381, 6 pages, 2013.)

NOW I have a scar!!

Image by Prettysleepy from Pixabay

Indiana University scientists reported that skin tissue treated with the chemical compound, beta-carophyllene — which is found in lavender, rosemary and ylang ylang, as well as various herbs and spices such as black pepper — showed increased cell growth and cell migration critical to wound healing.

“The way gene expression changed also suggests not only improved wound healing but also the possibility of less scar formation and a more full recovery. It’s an example that essential oils work; however, it’s not through our sense of smell.”

Indiana University. (2019, December 18). Chemical compound found in essential oils improves wound healing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 4, 2020 from

So even though there is research and evidence based information, there is no essential oil salve that is a magic bullet for scar prevention. More studies need to be research concerning analgesic properties during surgery…gee, I wouldn’t want to be the guinea pig for that!

That sounds promising, right? But what about postsurgery?

The paper, cited below, suggests that nonpharmacological methods, known as complementary therapies, are safer and have fewer side effects than medications. Aromatherapy is one of the types of complementary medicine that has recently attracted the attention of many researchers. In this method, a variety of herbal oils and essential oils are used. Peppermint blocks the serotonin and dopamine receptors that are involved in nausea. The results of this study indicate the equal effectiveness of inhalation aromatherapy with 10% and 30% peppermint essential oils in reducing the severity of nausea in abdominal surgery patients. Due to the ease of use of inhalation aromatherapy,
this method is recommended in patients undergoing abdominal surgery.
(Ahmadi, Y., Rezaei, J., Rezaei, M., & Khatony, A. (2020). Comparison of the Effect of Inhalation Aromatherapy with 10% and 30% Peppermint Essential Oils on the Severity of Nausea in Abdominal Surgery Patients. Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine (ECAM), 1–7. https://doi-

Safety concerns involving eugenol, thymol, and carvacrol documented ingestion of these oils. I do not participate in that type of aromatherapy.

I think we can all benefit from the use of essential oils like lavender and orange for anxiety before surgery. When the doctor says that it is ok to use a salve, balm or lotion on an incision, it probably wouldn’t hurt to use one with Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) in it.

I hope you enjoyed the heavy hand on the research this week, as always,

Happy blending,