Aromatherapy massage may reduce menopausal symptoms, according to a new study.
Aromatherapy is a technique in which essential oils from plants are used with the intention of preventing or treating illness, reducing stress, or enhancing well-being. Fragrance oils and products containing man-made compounds are not used in the practice of genuine aromatherapy. Although many gift shops sell scented candles, pomanders and potpourri as "aromatherapy," genuine aromatherapy treatments use higher strength (concentrated) essential oils drawn from various herbs. Aromatherapy massage uses essential oils that have been added to massage oil. This allows the essential oils to be absorbed through the skin as well as the nose and mouth.
In a new study, 90 menopausal women were randomly assigned to one of three groups. The first group received a 30-minute aromatherapy massage with aroma oil twice weekly for four weeks, the second group received a 30-minute massage with plain massage oil twice weekly for four weeks and the third group received no treatment at all. Menopausal symptoms were evaluated with the menopause rating scale throughout the study.
The researchers found that after eight treatment sessions, participants in both the aromatherapy massage and regular massage groups had significantly lower menopause scores than those receiving no treatment. Participants in the aromatherapy group had significantly lower menopause scores when compared to those receiving regular massage treatments.
The authors concluded that both aromatherapy massage and regular massage treatments may reduce menopausal symptoms; however, aromatherapy massage may be more effective. Further research is necessary before any firm conclusions can be made.
Many other integrative therapies have been studied for their potential effects on menopausal symptoms. Foods rich in phytoestrogens, such as soy, may help alleviate symptoms of menopause, including vaginal dryness, burning, itching, painful intercourse and decreased interest in sex. Black cohosh is also a popular alternative to prescription hormonal therapy for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. Initial human research suggests that black cohosh may improve some of these symptoms for up to six months. However, the current evidence is mixed. Additional, well-designed studies are needed before firm conclusions may be made.
For more information about integrative therapies for menopausal symptoms, please visit Natural Standard's Comparative Effectiveness Database.
For more information about aromatherapy massage, please visit Natural Standard's Health & Wellness Database.