Aromatherapy may be making its way to the mainstream but that doesn’t mean it will be widely embraced by everyone. One reason for this is that there isn’t much research involving essential oils, as compared to pharmaceutical drugs. This is an issue that needs to be addressed in order to have Aromatherapy be respected by all people. Most aromatherapy users know the beneficial properties of essential oils but there is little to no evidence to support those claims. Lavender is known for its calming properties, Lemon can be used as an fever-reducer, and Rosemary has been recommended for hair loss and memory improvement. The benefits of essential oils are endless, but where is the research to back up these claims?
Now, this could be an entire blog post about money distribution in research and how “Big Pharma” has all the money. Instead this blog is about getting more people involved in conducting research. Many people have testimonials about certain blends and treatments but no research to prove it. Verification of testimonials is one way to conduct research. Investigating testimonials and a review of traditional literature you can transform the information into a case study.
From testimonials to case studies
The number one topic discussed on facebook groups and Aromatherapy articles are the testimonials about essential oils and blends. These testimonials are great and they help improve the lives of many people, but at the end of the day that is all they are…testimonials with no research to back up the claim..
Turning testimonials to a case study does require a little bit of work but, the little bit of work will go a long way to adding to the pool of knowledge in Aromatherapy. Begin with a question you want to answer. Find a client who is seeking a therapeutic outcome relevant to your question and obtain their consent for treatment. Choose an oil you believe to be well-suited to your client’s needs and how much to use, the method of application, and how long you intend to use the oil in this manner. Before any treatment is given it is important to note why that specific treatment is being used and why it works. This is where the little bit of work comes in. Do some investigation into why the oil you selected should be able to treat the patient’s complaint. Be sure that the oil is safe for your client. It is important to write down every step of the process to be referenced.
After some investigation to confirm your protocol, you may begin your treatment. This part simply requires documentation on the progress of the treatment. Documentation is half the battle when it comes to case studies. Once the treatment is over, the results must be analyzed, and the initial question will be answered.
Get out and do your own research
There are many questions to be answered regarding the use of essential oils. Aromatherapy needs more voices in research and this research can lead to more credibility. I encourage everyone to go out find a question that they want to find an answer to and do the research. Conducting the same procedure on multiple clients and combining the individual case studies creates a case series. From there you can take what you have learned and develop a pilot study.
Create a question, then do the research to find out if anyone else has done the same research. Find out as much information as possible about the question, and then create a hypothesis. This is a proposed explanation of the question. An example would be, I believe ‘A’ will happen because of ‘B.’ This is a simple idea that explains what you think will happen during the experiment. After this the actual testing begins. This is where documenting the process is important. Writing down the all the steps and outcomes will allow for referencing. If the procedure isn’t working then redesign how the test is administered.
Analyzing data is the final part and is the most exciting because it determines if the hypothesis is correct. Even if the results don’t prove the hypothesis you will have learned something by completing the process and you now have information to share.
Writing up your case study is easy if you follow this simple outline:
- Ask a question
- Background research
- Test or procedure
- Analyze data and draw a conclusion
- Communicate results.
Research doesn’t end if the result isn’t what you thought it would be. Everyone can do research. Remember it begins with a question and some passion to find the answer. Ask a question, be curious, and go do some research.
by Bryant Hernandez, Graduate Healthcare Administration
For a more detailed outline on how to write up your case study visit www.ijpha.com and click on “Case Study Outline.”