All those who have experienced mental exhaustion or moderate burnout (ME/MB) raise your hands! Since most of us cannot take the time or money for a quick trip to a sunny beach to recuperate, here’s some research that just might brighten your day.
Jane Buckle, PhD, RN, is well known in the UK for her work in critical care nursing. She has published widely in nursing and medical journals. With co-author E. Varney, Ms. Buckle investigated a blend of three essential oils on mental exhaustion and moderate burnout in a November 2012 study.1
The study tested a blend of peppermint, basil, and helichrysum for the randomized, controlled, double-blind investigation. The placebo was rose water as used in Indian cooking. The convenience sample consisted of 13 women and one man who each had self-assessed ME/MB.
Data were collected three times a day for three weeks, Monday through Friday. Baseline was the first week, the second week was intervention (aromatherapy or the placebo), and the final week was for washout.
Each participant was given a personal inhaler to use at home or at work during the trial. The inhalers contained either the essential oil blend of peppermint, basil, and helichrysum or rose water. A qualitative questionnaire rated the aroma, and another questionnaire was given for listing perceived stressors. The outcome measures were a 0-10 scale with 10 for worst feeling of burnout, 0 for no feeling of burnout.
Never doubt the power of placebo as both groups experienced a reduction of perception of ME/MB. However, the study reported that “the aromatherapy group had a much greater reduction. Conclusions: The results suggest that inhaling essential oils may reduce the perceived level of mental fatigue/burnout. Further research is warranted.”2
We invite you to test your favorite essential oils and blends to see if they are able to help you recover from the stress of our busy lives.
1. Varney E, Buckle J, “Effect of Inhaled Essential Oils on Mental Exhaustion and Moderate Burnout: A Small Pilot Study,” J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Nov. 9. [Epub ahead of print] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23140115.