TAKE A DEEP BREATH
If you think aromatherapy is simply an indulgence that you tack onto a spa treatment, think again.
Health care professionals are increasingly turning to essential oils to treat conditions ranging from headaches to insect bites, and lavender is already widely used to alleviate anxiety, depression and grief, as well as to treat sleep problems.
And now, a new clinical trial at Aurora Health Care’s Neuroscience Innovation Institute in Milwaukee is using lavender aromatherapy to help relax patients undergoing brain surgery while awake.
Aurora neurosurgeon Dr. Richard Rovin says lavender has been proven to work in pre-operative settings. “But we hadn’t looked at it during surgery as a way to comfort the patient and reduce anxiety,” he says. “We are really thrilled with the effect it is having.”
Rovin is working with members of the Aurora’s Integrative Medicine Team to direct the trial, which includes 30 patients. It’s going well enough that Aurora likely will continue to offer aromatherapy in all awake brain surgeries when the trial concludes, Rovin says.
The lavender is offered to patients in an inhaler every 30 minutes, if they feel a need for it, during awake surgeries to remove brain tumors, in addition to the local anesthetic and mild intravenous fluid for sedation. Keeping the patient awake allows for communication, which makes the surgeries much safer, Rovin says. “I can identify any subtle changes in the patient, since we are getting constant feedback from them. We can operate with more confidence.”