The Use of Bergamot Essential Oil for PTSD Symptomology: A Qualitative Study

Danielle Rae Daniel 1 * , Tara Rava Zolnikov 2

AM J QUALITATIVE RES, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp. 1-32

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Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a multi-faceted, symptomatic mental health diagnosis often accompanied with various physical and psychological comorbidities.  The complexity of this diagnosis makes treatment difficult, thereby suggesting that all options, including alternative approaches to care, should be explored. Aromatherapy from plant essential oils is an increasingly utilized integrative health modality. Essential oils are lipophilic, volatile aromatic metabolites in plants consisting of various natural chemical constituents that permeate the blood stream and influence neurobiological responses. This qualitative phenomenological study sought to understand the impact of aromatherapy from Bergamot essential oil on managing PTSD symptomology. A two-week pilot study was conducted consisting of 12 first responder, medical, firefighter and military men and women presenting with symptoms of PTSD in San Diego, California. Data collected from the interviews identified that the bergamot essential oil produced a calming effect, improved sleep, reduced anxiety, increased positive mood, enhanced concentration and reduced avoidance behavior. Participants in the research study reported that aromatherapy of bergamot essential oil helped mitigate certain symptoms of PTSD from the symptom clusters of arousal, negative mood, and avoidance behavior. This modality could help practitioners and treatment clinics facilitate an adaptive recovery, by providing a calm and safe atmosphere to engage with clients to execute trauma focused therapy more effectively.   Aromatherapy provides a non-invasive and promising modality that would best serve the mental health field for practitioners and their overseeing organizations to further research, educate and implement this therapy in facilitating an adaptive recovery and management of PTSD symptoms.

Keywords: PTSD, mental health, aromatherapy, essential oils, complementary alternative medicine.