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Aromatherapy in palliative care aids relaxation and improves quality of life for patients with life-limiting illness.

COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES are increasingly being used alongside conventional palliative care to aid relaxation in patients with life-limiting illness. Among them, aromatherapy is reported as one of the fastest growing therapies, (1) which is highly sought after by patients. (2)

As a clinical aromatherapist and former oncology and palliative care nurse, I recognise the importance of integrating aromatic interventions into health care, using evidence-based approaches. My workshop, Introducing Aromatherapy in Palliative Care, was created to encourage safe and appropriate use of essential oils and botanical products with patients, their families and carers, to optimise their quality of life.

Last month, I welcomed the first group of 13 palliative care nurses, complementary therapists and registered nurses working in hospital or community settings and rest homes from around New Zealand to my workshop.

We began with an overview of aromatherapy advances in palliative care, particularly in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States and Canada, where aromatherapy by qualified aromatherapists has extended to include symptom-focused support using a wide variety of botanical products and interventions.

The group then explored what an essential oil is, where it's derived and how it's extracted from the plant material. The factors which affect an oil's quality and composition gave perspective to the entire process of essential oil production and consequently what to consider when purchasing oils. A brief introduction to organic chemistry was included to highlight the complex nature of these concentrated chemical components and how this affects essential oil safety, toxicity and storage.

We focused on eight essential oils and their suitability for palliative care, and safe administration using holistic approaches of inhalation and dermal absorption.

We created individualised blends and gained personal experience with aromatic inhalation as well as sharing relaxing aromatherapy hand massages and footbaths. This two-day intense programme forms the basis for ongoing specialist days. For more information, see www.thearomary.

Carol Rose, BSc(Hons), Pall Nurs, RN, Dip Aroma, RMT, qualified as an aromatherapist in New Zealand and has since studied advanced clinical aromatherapy in France. She runs her own practice. The Aromary, specialising in life-limiting illness, and is a clinical aromatherapist and remedial massage therapist at Hospice Mid-Northland in Kerikeri.


(1) Buckle J. (2003). Clinicai Aromatherapy, (2nd ed.) London, UK: Elsevier Ltd.

(2) Macmillan Cancer Relief. (2002). Directory of complementary therapy services in UK cancer care--public S voluntary sectors. London, UK: Macmillan Cancer Relief.

Caption: Kerikeri-based nurse and qualified aromatherapist Carol Rose

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Title Annotation:section & college news
Author:Rose, Carol
Publication:Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 1, 2018
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