Menopausal symptoms were significantly reduced among women who received aromatherapy massage once a week for eight weeks, a recent study showed.

“Aromatherapy Massage Affects Menopausal Symptoms in Korean Climacteric Women: A Pilot-Controlled Clinical Trial” involved 52 climacteric, or menopausal, women. The women were randomly assigned to an aromatherapy massage group or an age-matched, wait-list control group.

The 25 subjects in the massage group received one 30-minute aromatherapy massage per week for eight weeks. The 27 women assigned to the control group continued their typical daily routines with no treatment.

Participants ranged in age from 45 to 54 years old. Each had an endometrial thickness of less than 6 millimeters and no history of dysplasia or cervical cancer.

Aromatherapy massage was provided to the women in the aromatherapy massage group at the same time and on the same day each week. It involved the use of lavender, rose geranium, rose and jasmine essential oils, along with diluted almond and evening primrose oil.

The massage employed moderate-pressure effleurage strokes in the shape of a flat diamond across the abdomen. This was followed by gentle kneading at the left and right of the waist and then stroking across the abdomen. Slow, smooth and continuous massage strokes also were applied to the back and arms. A cushion was placed under each subject’s knees in order to relax the abdomen.

Kupperman’s 11-item menopausal index was used to measure menopausal symptoms among the women both before and after eight weeks of aromatherapy massage or control period. The 11 symptoms assessed by this numerical index are hot flushes, paresthesia, insomnia, nervousness, melancholia, vertigo, weakness, arthralgia or myalgia, headache, palpitations and formication.

Across all categories of menopausal symptoms, the research revealed lower mean scores among the aromatherapy massage group as compared to the control group following the eight-week experiment.

Within the aromatherapy massage group, hot flushes, paresthesia and melancholia were reduced significantly after eight weeks of massage when compared with baseline scores. The melancholia scores increased significantly in the control group. The researchers recommend further study to determine whether it was the aromatherapy, massage or combination of both that achieved such results.

 “In this study, subjects who received an aromatherapy massage once a week for eight weeks showed a greater reduction in menopausal symptoms than those in the control group,” stated the study’s authors. “More specifically, aromatherapy massage improved hot flushes, depression and pain in climacteric women.”

Source: Department of Nursing, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, School of Medicine, Eulji University, Daejoh, South Korea; and Center for Integrative Medicine, Institute of Medical Science, Wonkwang University, Iksan, South Korea.

Authors: Myung-Haeng Hur, Yun Seok Yang and Myeong Soo Lee. Originally published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, July, 2007.