Massage combined with aromatherapy can have a significant impact on stress, anxiety and the immune system. Several recent studies have explored whether combining aromatherapy with therapeutic massage can increase the benefits that each have been shown to provide on their own.
In 2005, a small study of Japanese medical students and their families yielded promising results regarding the efficacy of aromatherapy massage in reducing stress levels and improving immune system function. Subjects received both aromatherapy massage as well as a carrier oil (control) massage from the same therapist for a period of two weeks. The results of both types of massage showed a reduction in stress and anxiety, as measured by reduced cortisol (stress hormone) levels. In addition, aromatherapy massage was shown to effect a substantial increase in lymphocytes, which researchers concluded as being helpful to the immune system.
In 2007, a study of Australian emergency room nurses produced similar findings. The study was conducted on separate groups of nurses during the summer and winter seasons, each for a period of 12 weeks. Data relating to stress, workloads, anxiety and illness was collected before the start and after the conclusion of each 12- week period. The participants received a 15 minute seated massage, accompanied by relaxing music and with an aromatic mist sprayed near the subject’s head before the massage took place. The results of the study showed that a high number (92%) of nurses reported feeling little or no anxiety after receiving 12 weeks of aromatherapy massage. Researchers concluded that offering regular on-site massage to emergency room nurses was effective and should strongly be considered as a way to maintain physical and emotional health.
The negative effects that stress and anxiety can have on physical and emotional well-being are responsible for increased illness and can cost employers dearly in lost productivity. The results of these recent studies show the positive short-term benefits that aromatherapy massage can have in reducing stress and boosting immune system function.