July Featured Article

Posted on July 16, 2012 0

Essential Oils for Insomnia

By Dr. Joie Power, Ph.D.

Insomnia is a common problem among a wide range of patients, including elderly and hospitalized patients. Essential oil of lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has been shown in many studies to be effective in resolving insomnia.

A review of a sampling of these studies indicates that in addition to promoting improved sleep, the use of lavender essential oil has also been shown to result in greater daytime alertness, calmness and less confusion and aggressiveness as well as decreased need for nighttime sedation.

It is important to use the right kind of lavender for insomnia (Lavandula angustifolia, Lavandula vera, or Lavandula officinalis), as some species of lavender are stimulating and can aggravate insomnia (Lavandula latifolia and Lavandula stoechas). It is also important to limit the number of drops of lavender applied alone or as part of a blend to 4 drops per application as even the relaxing lavender oils become stimulating in higher doses.

Other essential oils that have been shown in clinical studies to effectively promote sleep include spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi), Melissa (Melissa officinalis), bergamot (Citrus bergamia), European basil (Ocimum basilicum), Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), marjoram (Origanum majorana) and valerian (Valeriana officinalis). Of all the essential oils mentioned for promoting sleep, lavender has the greatest body of supportive evidence.

Essential oils can be used to promote sleep by diffusing 3 to 5 drops of a single oil or a blend of oils through a fan diffuser for one to two hours beginning 30 minutes prior to bedtime. If the patient wakes during the night, the procedure can be repeated. Alternatively, you may place 3 to 5 drops of essential oil on a cotton ball set on a dish or in a salt shaker near the bedside; or, you may use three to 5 drops essential oil diluted in 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil for a hand and/or foot massage at bedtime and repeated at 4 hour intervals if needed. When assisting elderly or debilitated patients, use a lower dose of only 1-3 drops of a single oil in the blend.

A suggested formula for improving sleep and decreasing nighttime agitation:

  • Lavender essential oil - 70%
  • Roman chamomile essential oil - 15%
  • Marjoram essential oil - 5%
  • Bergamot essential oil - 10%

This blend is effective for many patients in acute and long-term settings and is available as Deeper Sleep from Artisan Aromatics.

Dr. Joie Power is a retired board certified neuropsychologist and former Assistant Professor of Surgery/Neurosurgery at the Medical College of Georgia, where she performed intra-operative cortical mapping with renowned neurosurgeon Herman Flanigan, M.D. She has over 20 years of clinical experience in both in-patient and out-patient settings and during her years of practice has also been both a practitioner and student of alternative healing methods, including herbal medicine, aromatherapy, Reiki, Chinese Medicine, and other energetic healing systems. Her extensive formal training and experience in the olfactory and limbic systems of the brain give her a unique qualification for understanding the actions of essential oils in the body.

Dr. Power is the founder and former owner of Dreaming Earth Botanicals and is now a clinical consultant for Artisan Aromatics as well as an internationally known writer and teacher in the fields of aromatherapy and alternative medicine. Her approach to aromatherapy weaves together her solid scientific training and strong clinical skills with a holistic philosophy that honors body, mind and spirit. Joie is a Professional Member of NAHA and a Moderator for the NAHA Members Only Group for the topic: PSN and Aromatherapy.

To learn more about Dr. Joie Power, please visit her website: http://www.aromatherapy-school.com/

Click here to purchase Dr. Power's NAHA Teleconference Presentations (2010 and 2012)
2012: Psychoneuroimmunology: The Science of the Mind/Body Connection and what it means for the Practice of Aromatherapy
2010: Aromatic Pathways in the Brain; How Smell effects the Mind and Body

Copyright © 2012 Joie Power, Ph.D. / The Aromatherapy School All Rights Reserved

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