Surgery is an invasive procedure and widely considered to be a stressful event for most patients. Furthermore, ‘preoperative anxiety can result in several problems, including intravenous access problems, jaw tension, and coughing during anaesthesia induction’ (Paysar et al, 2020).
A small controlled trial study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice (Pasyar et al, 2020) looked at the effects of bergamot essential oil on anxiety and salivary cortisol and alpha amylase levels* in 60 patients prior to laparoscopic cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal).
In the study participants were randomly allocated to an intervention or control group. Prior to surgery, the intervention group received two drops of bergamot oil (Citrus bergamia Risso) on a cotton ball, attached to their collar, and asked to breathe normally for 20 minutes. The control group received two drops of grapeseed oil on a cotton ball, attached to their collar, and asked to breathe normally for 20 minutes. Anxiety and saliva cortisol and alpha amylase measures were taken immediately before and after the 20 minutes.
During the study, no complications or side effects were reported, and the results showed that while there was no significant difference between the two groups in terms of saliva cortisol levels, the bergamot group saw a significant decrease in anxiety and alpha amylase levels after the intervention compared to the control group.
The authors of the study concluded that while further studies are needed, ‘considering the positive effects of aromatherapy using bergamot essential essence on anxiety and salivary alpha amylase activity, this aroma can be used as an available, effective and inexpensive material in patients prior to laparoscopic cholecystectomy’.
*The level of cortisol and alpha amylase in saliva can be considered biomarkers of stress and anxiety.
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Pasyar N, Rambod M, Araghi F (2020). The effect of bergamot orange essence on anxiety, salivary cortisol, and alpha amylase in patients prior to laparoscopic cholecystectomy: a controlled trial study, Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 39:101153. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2020.101153
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