National Nurses Week: How Essential Oils Comfort
By Caryn Gehlmann
We’re highlighting nurses this month in recognition of National Nurses Week, (May 6-12), because they’re a really important part of our e3 community. Nurses are on the frontline of patient care so we really appreciate and value the insight they’ve given for many years on the use of essential oils. Their feedback has been used to create many of our most comforting blends.
This month I decided to interview a nurse who plays a particularly important role in my life, my daughter Staci Antaya. Staci has been a nurse for over 13 years and I love getting her input on which essential oils her patients benefit from and which application methods seem to work best in a hospital or hospice environment. You can enjoy my interview with her below.
Tell us about your nursing background and you new position.
For the last 10 years, I’ve worked for Providence Hospital in the PACU (post anesthesia care unit). I helped wake patients up from surgery and also assisted anesthesiologists into getting patients ready for surgery. Last month I started a new job with hospice which is a dream come true. All my 13 years of experience as a nurse has been preparing me for this role, and I hope essential oils will continue to play a role in the care I provide.
Which essential oils have you and other nurses found particularly helpful in patient care?
We started using essential oils in the PACU years at least 5 years ago. I have found both peppermint and lavender to be very helpful with patients if they are open to the experience after surgery. We use peppermint for post-operative nausea and vomiting, and lavender for anxiety/relaxation. Persistent nausea plagues many patients after surgery and it is awful to feel nauseated. Medication is key but peppermint is helpful in soothing the uncomfortable feeling. Also, anxiety is more and more common in our society. Waking up from anesthesia is disorienting and confusing for some. The smell of lavender can provide comfort in an otherwise uncomfortable and unfamiliar situation.
How would you recommend nurses begin using essential oils as part of patient care?
If you want to use essential oils with your patients, I would find a facility that has a protocol in place and ask them how they got started. Of course, as nurses we always ask permission from our patients before the use of essential oils to make sure our care is patient driven. What we generally do is ask the patient if they would like the use of essential oils and then place a drop on a cotton ball that we rest on their chest. That way if they change their mind or someone was sensitive to the aroma we could dispose of the cotton ball. It was simple and worked great! I personally would love to see essential oils used in healthcare for comfort, nausea treatment, wound care, personal care, and aromatherapy.
Does the hospital staff also benefit from using essential oils?
Often the nursing staff will use them for relaxation and to mask an unpleasant odor. Lavender was also included in our “Code Lavender” Kits. A team of nurses got together to create this small comfort kit to give to colleagues when they have had a stressful work experience. It is a token of kindness to acknowledge the stress associated with nursing and patient care.
Do you recommend nurses use EOs as part of self-care? If so, which ones have you found helpful?
I absolutely love the use of essential oils in my personal care. I clean with oregano and lemon. I gargle with cinnamon and tea tree if feel a sore throat coming on. I also use those essential oils to make my own mouthwash along with cinnamon. I’ve made sugar scrubs with bergamot, lavender, ylang ylang, and sandalwood. It smells so good!
I use e3 Muscle Soothe everyday. I use the e3 lotion and just mix it right in my bottle. I have a diffuser next to my bed and every night use it. I like to diffuse the synergy blends. My all time favorite is e3 Revitalize. I actually feel happy instantly when I smell that blend. I currently am loving e3 Courageous and e3 Adrenal Support. Lastly, I steam with eucalyptus, e3 Protection, or e3 Respiratory blend. Also, any kitchen burn (I love to cook) lavender immediately goes on the burn. It is part of my camping first aid kit. I actually did wound care with tea tree and lavender on a 12 day rafting trip in Alaska for all my friends who got kitchen cuts!
How can we show our support and appreciation for hard working nurses?
That is a super sweet question. If you know a nurse encourage them to get a massage or some kind of spa service that is affordable to them in which they are receiving. The beautiful part about nursing is that it is a giving profession but if nurses don’t recharge their batteries then burnout is inevitable. I think massage is the best because of the physical demands of the our job as well. Also, if you or a loved one is in the hospital, work to create a sense of team with all the medical staff as opposed to an adversarial or accusatory relationship. Work together to make sure your loved one is getting the best care available. Because in the end that is the most important thing that you or your loved one gets the best care available.
At e3, we celebrate National Nurses Week, since those in the nursing profession are close to our hearts. But our support doesn’t stop there. For over a decade, our staff of trained Clinical Aromatherapists and healthcare professionals has partnered with nurses. We specialize in offering a personalized approach to selecting essential oils for patient care, the development of policies and procedures, and training for your nursing staff on safe, effective application methods. Our goal is to help you utilize aromatherapy as a safe, gentle and effective way to bring comfort to your patients and staff. Learn more about how nurses can use essential oils in their care or contact us to set-up an initial consultation.