Night-shift work causes mental stress and lifestyle changes, and is recognized as a risk of cardiovascular diseases associated with impaired endothelial function (blood flow), according to researchers.

They set out to determine if aromatherapy aided these conditions.

“Aromatherapy is becoming popular as a complementary therapy that is beneficial for mental relaxation,” the researchers noted in a report published on www.pubmed.gov. “The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of aromatherapy on the endothelial function of medical staff after night-shift work.”

This study consisted of 19 healthy medical personnel (19 men, mean age 32 years, including 11 physicians and 8 technicians.) Aromatherapy was performed for 30 minutes by inhalation of the essential oil of lavender.

Flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of the brachial artery was measured three times in each subject: on a regular workday, and after night-shift work before and immediately after aromatherapy. A control study was performed to assess the effect of a 30-minute rest without aromatherapy.

FMD after night-shift work was lower than on a regular workday which improved after aromatherapy. FMD was stable in the control study.

“This study demonstrated that night-shift work impaired endothelial function in medical staff, an effect that was alleviated by short-term aromatherapy,” the researchers noted.

This research ran in Hypertension Research. (25 November 2010; doi:10.1038/hr.2010.228.)

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