Actions of essential oils often utilize standard medical terminology, such as expectorant or antifungal. More commonly, however, aromatherapy benefits do not follow medical norms. Many essential oils are known through experiential use to be grounding, invigorating, calming, or uplifting. These effects have long been considered to be intangible–factors which are unable to be measured, thus unable to be scientifically substantiated. However, psychological measurement tools have been developed which are able to measure mood states related to these effects. These measurement tools have been analyzed to confirm sufficient validity and reliability for clinical research into these effects.
This study identifies and measures these “intangible” benefits of essential oils among adults females who experience aromatherapy inhalation through the use of multiple validated psychological measurement tools.
This is a single blind randomized, controlled clinical trial which identifies and measures the effects of single-oil aromatherapy exposure on outcomes often considered to be intangible among otherwise healthy adults during the study period. Outcomes are related to mood states, subjective wellbeing, overall wellness, and mental/cognitive state.
This study will evaluate 17 outcomes which have been linked to aromatherapy inhalation. These include: Tension, Anxiety, Anger, Hostility, Fatigue, Inertia, Depression, Dejection, Confusion, Bewilderment, Coping Potential, Overall Satisfaction with Life, Sense of Personal Safety, Optimism of Future Security, Connectedness, Achievement, and Subjective Wellbeing (Happiness). These effects are measured through validated research instruments which will enable a comprehensive and robust analysis of not only total effects, but specificity regarding the method by which the effects are achieved.
The study will have 4 arms allowing for the comparison of 3 different essential oils and a control group. Each arm will be reflected in 3 groups tested on different days to control for the potential of season or weather to affect mood state.
Participants will complete four different validated measurement tools. This will enable the research team to not only evaluate total effects on intangible benefits but also specifics regarding the way in which these effects are achieved. This will produce multiple outcomes for analysis that enable a comprehensive review of the total effects of aromatherapy.
A prevalent misconception in the aromatherapy community is that benefits which are deemed to be holistic or intangible are in conflict with modern scientific methods. This viewpoint embraces an idea that individual anecdotes and personal perspectives supersede applications with a wider range of applications. However, since individual perspectives and experiences are unique from person to person, they are not reproducible. As a result, they are unable to inform practice on a large scale and keep the art and science of aromatherapy stunted.
The purpose of this study is to embrace the inherent holism of the art of aromatherapy by explaining these actions through validated scientific tools. The benefit to this approach is that these findings will be able to produce protocols that are applicable to a wider range of individuals. By quantifying and identifying these outcomes, benefits of essential oils can be better understood and most importantly, reproduced from client to client. This allows the community to achieve greater success through the use of methods and approaches that will be applicable to a larger population of clients and provides knowledge on which practices might not be effective on a larger scale.
This project is in the IRB authorization phase. Pending stage 1 funding completion, the ethical application will be submitted, the methodology, protocol, and informed consent documents can be reviewed, and authorization can be obtained to begin patient recruitment.