K. Lees,F. France, V. Lopez, M. Paulson, W.M. Silvers

Whitworth University, Spokane, WA

Lavender aromatherapy has been used in a variety of domains to treat chronic physical pain and its emotional side effects. The empirical evidence to support aromatherapy in collegiate athletes with chronic pain remains inconclusive. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to explore the effects that lavender aromatherapy cream had on chronic pain in various areas of the body in Division III collegiate athletes over the course of seven d. The research hypothesis was that there would be an increased pain pressure threshold (PPT) in the experimental group and a decreased visual analogue scale (VAS) in the experimental group. METHODS: Twenty-two college-aged male and female athletes who experienced chronic pain (nm = 8, nf = 14) completed a baseline PPT and VAS test. They were then given a seven d supply of Cetaphil lotion (C) or Cetaphil lotion containing 2% lavender extract oil concentration (E). A factorial ANOVA test was used to compare post-experimental PPT and VAS scores to pre-test scores (significance level p≤ 0.05). This test was used to compare two independent variables 1) condition (control and experimental groups) and 2) time (pre-test and post-test). RESULTS: No statistical differences were observed between control and experimental groups for VAS (Cpre: 3.1 ± 1.8; Cpost: 2.4 ± 1.7; Epre: 3.8 ± 1.7; Epost: 3.5 ± 2.1; p> 0.05) and PPT (Cpre: 5.81 ± 3.57; Cpost: 4.51 ± 2.46; Epre: 5.13 ± 4.08; Epost: 4.33 ± 2.70; p> 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Under these research conditions, the topical application of lavender cream did not improve VAS or PPT scores. The primary explanation for the observed results was the small sample size (n = 22); in addition, application method, pain inconsistency, and variance of dolorimeter data collection were notable limitations. Based on the present findings, there is not sufficient evidence to believe that lavender aromatherapy is effective in pain reduction. Future research is needed to investigate the delivery kinetics of topical ointment application with a greater sample size.

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