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Modulatory effects of aromatherapy massage intervention on electroencephalogram, psychological assessments, salivary cortisol and plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor

Complementary Therapies in Medicine
DOI: 10.1016/j.ctim.2014.04.001
  • Aromatherapy Massage
  • Stress
  • Bdnf
  • Eeg
  • Alpha Wave
  • Cortisol
  • Biology
  • Medicine
  • Psychology


Summary Objectives Aromatherapy massage is commonly used for the stress management of healthy individuals, and also has been often employed as a therapeutic use for pain control and alleviating psychological distress, such as anxiety and depression, in oncological palliative care patients. However, the exact biological basis of aromatherapy massage is poorly understood. Therefore, we evaluated here the effects of aromatherapy massage interventions on multiple neurobiological indices such as quantitative psychological assessments, electroencephalogram (EEG) power spectrum pattern, salivary cortisol and plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. Design A control group without treatment (n=12) and aromatherapy massage group (n=13) were randomly recruited. They were all females whose children were diagnosed as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and followed up in the Department of Psychiatry, Jeju National University Hospital. Participants were treated with aromatherapy massage for 40min twice per week for 4 weeks (8 interventions). Results A 4-week-aromatherapy massage program significantly improved all psychological assessment scores in the Stat-Trait Anxiety Index, Beck Depression Inventory and Short Form of Psychosocial Well-being Index. Interestingly, plasma BDNF levels were significantly increased after a 4 week-aromatherapy massage program. Alpha-brain wave activities were significantly enhanced and delta wave activities were markedly reduced following the one-time aromatherapy massage treatment, as shown in the meditation and neurofeedback training. In addition, salivary cortisol levels were significantly reduced following the one-time aromatherapy massage treatment. Conclusions These results suggest that aromatherapy massage could exert significant influences on multiple neurobiological indices such as EEG pattern, salivary cortisol and plasma BDNF levels as well as psychological assessments.

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