Research Article
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Published Online: 1 October 2017

Effects of Aromatherapy Massage on Pregnant Women's Stress and Immune Function: A Longitudinal, Prospective, Randomized Controlled Trial

Publication: The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Volume 23, Issue Number 10


Objectives: This study's aims are to examine the effects of aromatherapy massage on women's stress and immune function during pregnancy.
Methods: This longitudinal, prospective, randomized controlled trial recruited 52 healthy pregnant women from a prenatal clinic in Taipei using convenience sampling. The participants were randomly assigned to the intervention (n = 24) or control (n = 28) group using Clinstat block randomization. The intervention group received 70 min of aromatherapy massage with 2% lavender essential oil every other week (10 times in total) for 20 weeks; the control group received only routine prenatal care. In both groups, participants' salivary cortisol and immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels were collected before and after the intervention group received aromatherapy massage (every month from 16 to 36 weeks gestation) and were analyzed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.
Results: The pregnant women in the intervention group had lower salivary cortisol (p < 0.001) and higher IgA (p < 0.001) levels immediately after aromatherapy massage than those in the control group, which did not receive massage treatment. Comparing the long-term effects of aromatherapy massage on salivary IgA levels between groups at different times, the study found that the pretest salivary IgA levels at 32 (p = 0.002) and 36 (p < 0.001) weeks gestational age (GA) were significantly higher than the pretest IgA at 16 weeks GA (baseline).
Conclusions: This study presented evidence that aromatherapy massage could significantly decrease stress and enhance immune function in pregnant women. The findings can guide clinicians or midwives in providing aromatherapy massage to women throughout the pregnancy.

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Published In

cover image The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Volume 23Issue Number 10October 2017
Pages: 778 - 786
PubMed: 28783372


Published in print: October 2017
Published online: 1 October 2017
Published ahead of print: 7 August 2017


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Pao-Ju Chen
Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan.
Department of Nursing, Hsin Sheng Junior College of Medical Care and Management, Taoyuan, Taiwan.
Cheng-Chen Chou
School of Nursing, Taipei Medical University, Taipei, Taiwan.
Luke Yang
Department of Social Welfare and Social Work, Hsuan Chuang University, Hsinchu, Taiwan.
Yu-Lun Tsai
School of Nursing, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan.
Yue-Cune Chang
Department of Mathematics, Tamkang University, New Taipei, Taiwan.
Jen-Jiuan Liaw
School of Nursing, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan.


Address correspondence to:Jen-Jiuan Liaw, PhDSchool of NursingNational Defense Medical CenterTaipei 11490Taiwan
E-mail: [email protected]

Author Disclosure Statement

No competing financial interests exist.

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