Mind Pharmacy

June 20, 2011 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

A very useful concept to embrace is that there is a veritable pharmacy inside your head. Stocked on its shelves are healing substances that can be much more powerful and safer than anything a pharmacist can prescribe. What’s more, there’s no need to worry about ingesting potentially dangerous chemicals because every “drug” on supply is 100% natural and specific to your physiology. This fact is most clearly evidenced in double blind, placebo controlled experiments. In such studies, both patients and researchers are unaware of who is receiving the “real” medicine and who’s being given an inert substance or placebo. What inevitably happens, to a varying extent, is that a significant percentage of those given the inert substance demonstrate favorable effects. This so-called “placebo effect” is an example of the mind’s pharmacy at work.

In the paradigm described above, the body can be reasonably viewed as a pharmacist’s assistant. Through physical activity the body can actively work with your brain to influence neurochemical production and beyond. Using aerobic exercise to manage depression is one illustration of this mechanism. However, even relatively passive physical modalities, including aromatherapy and massage, can ignite the healing process.

Mind Body Healer #1: Tai Chi – Excessive levels of oxidative stress are thought to contribute to many degenerative diseases that accompany the aging process. In order to counter this, a nutrient dense diet and select nutritional supplements are often recommended. Another approach worth considering is the gentle form of “moving meditation” known as Tai Chi (TC). A recent publication in the Journal of Aging Research discovered that an 8 week training course in TC significantly increased antioxidant capacity (glutathione peroxidase activity) and reduced plasma homocysteine, “a cardiovascular risk marker”. The participants in the trial were pre- and post-menopausal women. (1)

Mind Body Healer #2: Reiki – So called energy therapies, of which Reiki is one, are difficult to accept for many of us who are scientifically inclined. The idea that placing one’s hands over rather than on a person could support the proper flow of energy and healing is esoteric according to a Western model of medicine. Nonetheless, a study published in the current issue of the journal Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine offers proof that Reiki does, in fact, produce a mind/body effect. The controlled trial involving 40 university students living with anxiety and depression determined that those with higher anxiety and depressive symptoms “showed a progressive improvement in overall mood” due to Reiki exposure. Mood scores were taken pre and post intervention and at a 5 week follow up appointment. In the intervention, a total of six 30 minute Reiki sessions were administered over a 2 to 8 week period of time. (2)

Mind Body Healer #3: Massage – Endometriosis is characterized by an overgrowth of cells that line the uterus. One of the complications of this condition is dysmenorrhea or painful menstruation. According to researchers from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, “Due to the repeated medical follow-ups and the side effects of medical therapies and endometriosis surgeries, many patients tend to use less expensive, nonmedical, and nonaggressive methods” as part of a self-care routine. Based on this reality, a pilot study was carried out to determine whether massage was a safe and suitable alternative for 23 women with endometriosis. Not only did the massage therapy reduce menstrual pain, but the benefits were maintained for at least 6 weeks after the completion of the trial. (3)

Mind Body Healer #4: Guided Imagery – Guided imagery (GI) in addition to standard rehabilitation promotes surgical healing. The basis for this proclamation is a study that examined the effects of GI in patients who underwent a common form of knee surgery known as post-anterior cruciate ligament repair (ACLR). A control group that received only standard care was used as a comparison model. Measures of knee function and strength were assessed 6 months post-operatively. The guided imagery group demonstrated greater gains in terms of knee laxity and “healing-related neurobiological factors” including levels of dopamine and noradrenaline. (4)

Mind Body Healer #5: Aromatherapy – My sister is an elementary school teacher. I know from her experience how stressful the job can be. A new Taiwanese study evaluated the effects of aromatherapy in 54 elementary school teachers. Bergamot, a citrus essential oil, was used as the therapeutic scent in this intervention. “Autonomic nervous system parameters”, blood pressure and heart rate were recorded just prior to the aromatherapy spray inhalation and 5 minutes afterwards. The results indicated decreases in blood pressure, heart rate and a positive shift in heart rate variability. Those with the highest baseline levels of anxiety benefited most. (5)

Reiki Therapy May Improve Stress Perception in “High-Stress” Individuals

Source: Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011; 2011: 381862. (link)

Mind/body therapies aren’t just for patients who have minor conditions with which to contend. Even those with serious psychiatric disorders may benefit from various complementary modalities, including acupuncture and music therapy. This possibility is being explored in earnest by researchers in both Asia and Europe. A just published pilot study conducted in the UK found that using acupuncture in addition to conventional schizophrenic care brought about a wide array of benefits, such as fewer side effects of medications, higher energy, improved sleep and an overall reduction in symptoms of schizophrenia. Another trial that included 24 hospitalized psychiatric patients determined that 11 days of music therapy (30 minutes/day) lead to a statistically relevant decline in the participants’ Beck Anxiety Inventory score, from 23.9 at baseline to 12.7 after the musical intervention. Positive changes in brain wave patterns, higher alpha EEG percentage and lower beta EEG percentage, were also noted. (6,7)

The above research may or may not directly relate to your life, but there are probably people out there that you’ll meet or already know who can benefit from it – that is, if you share it with them. We all have the innate capability to support healing in our own bodies. However, it doesn’t have to end there. You and I can also assist others to find better health and attain long lasting wellness, and we don’t need a doctorate to do so. The key is to instill the belief that self-healing is indeed possible. The power lies within us, it just needs to be accessed. Combine that understanding with the best of modern medicine and you’ll likely be a force to be reckoned with for many, many years to come.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!


Tags: , ,
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Exercise, Mental Health

21 Comments & Updates to “Mind Pharmacy”

  1. JP Says:

    Update: Lavender oil massage reduces menstrual pain …


    Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2015 Jan-Feb;20(1):156-60.

    The effect of aromatherapy massage with lavender oil on severity of primary dysmenorrhea in Arsanjan students.

    BACKGROUND: Presently, using complementary therapy such as lavender oil has specific application in medicine. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of aromatherapy massage on the severity of primary dysmenorrhea in nursing and midwifery students of Islamic Azad University of Arsanjan, Iran.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: This study was performed using clinical trial method on 80 eligible students whose level of pain was measured by visual analogue scale (VAS) before the intervention. Each participant, in the first days of menstruation, randomly received two types of massage with lavender and placebo oil in two consecutive cycles of menstruation. Their level of pain was measured before and 30 min after the intervention. In this study, each group was considered as their self-control group in the next cycle. The data were analyzed by SPSS software.

    RESULTS: A significant decrease in VAS score after lavender massage was detected in comparison with placebo massage. There was a statistically significant difference between VAS scores after and before placebo massage. In addition, statistically the effect of lavender massage on the severity of primary dysmenorrhea was higher than that of placebo massage (P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Findings of this study showed that lavender oil massage decreases primary dysmenorrhea and it can be used as an effective herbal drug. Be well! JP

  2. JP Says:

    Update: The latest review about the health benefits of bergamot oil …


    Front Pharmacol. 2015 Mar 2;6:36.

    Citrus bergamia essential oil: from basic research to clinical application.

    “Conclusion: Bergamot essential oil has been traditionally used in Italian folk medicine for magisterial, handcrafted, and homemade preparations that are intended for topical use as antiseptics for the disinfection of skin and as aids for healing minor wounds. BEO is generally well tolerated, but it possesses photosensitive properties because of the presence of furocoumarins, especially 5-MOP. Therefore, in topical preparations, psoralen-free essential oil was used in recent decades. As a consequence of this and because of safety concerns related to furocoumarins, the use of high quality controlled psoralen-free BEO is recommended as a general precaution. However, although the oil has been used extensively for many years, there have only been a few reports of phototoxic reactions to bergamot aromatherapy oil.

    Several biological activities of BEO were shown, such as antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, and analgesic effects, including effects on the central nervous and cardiovascular systems. Even though these effects indicate potential clinical applications for BEO in the future, to date, only clinical studies investigating aromatherapy effects have been published. The latter were carried out primarily to investigate anxiolytic effects and the reduction of stress responses. They indicate that treatment with BEO in aromatherapy can be useful to reduce anxiety and stress effects.”

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Update 05/31/15:


    Pain Manag Nurs. 2015 Jun;16(3):388-99.

    Effects of Reiki on Post-cesarean Delivery Pain, Anxiety, and Hemodynamic Parameters: A Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial.

    The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of Reiki on pain, anxiety, and hemodynamic parameters on postoperative days 1 and 2 in patients who had undergone cesarean delivery. The design of this study was a randomized, controlled clinical trial. The study took place between February and July 2011 in the Obstetrical Unit at Odemis Public Hospital in Izmir, Turkey. Ninety patients equalized by age and number of births were randomly assigned to either a Reiki group or a control group (a rest without treatment). Treatment applied to both groups in the first 24 and 48 hours after delivery for a total of 30 minutes to 10 identified regions of the body for 3 minutes each. Reiki was applied for 2 days once a day (in the first 24 and 48 hours) within 4-8 hours of the administration of standard analgesic, which was administered intravenously by a nurse. A visual analog scale and the State Anxiety Inventory were used to measure pain and anxiety. Hemodynamic parameters, including blood pressure (systolic and diastolic), pulse and breathing rates, and analgesic requirements also were recorded. Statistically significant differences in pain intensity (p = .000), anxiety value (p = .000), and breathing rate (p = .000) measured over time were found between the two groups. There was a statistically significant difference between the two groups in the time (p = .000) and number (p = .000) of analgesics needed after Reiki application and a rest without treatment. Results showed that Reiki application reduced the intensity of pain, the value of anxiety, and the breathing rate, as well as the need for and number of analgesics. However, it did not affect blood pressure or pulse rate. Reiki application as a nursing intervention is recommended as a pain and anxiety-relieving method in women after cesarean delivery.

    Be well!


  4. JP Says:

    Update 06/10/15:


    Complement Ther Med. 2015 Jun;23(3):396-404.

    Effects of inhaled ginger aromatherapy on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and health-related quality of life in women with breast cancer.

    OBJECTIVE: To assess the efficacy of inhaled ginger aromatherapy on nausea, vomiting and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in chemotherapy breast cancer patients.

    DESIGN: Single-blind, controlled, randomized cross-over study. Patients received 5-day aromatherapy treatment using either ginger essential oil or fragrance-matched artificial placebo (ginger fragrance oil) which was instilled in a necklace in an order dictated by the treatment group sequence.

    SETTING: Two oncology clinics in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

    MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: VAS nausea score, frequency of vomiting and HRQoL profile (EORTC QLQ-C30 scores).

    RESULTS: Sixty female patients completed the study (age=47.3±9.26 years; Malay=98.3%; on highly emetogenic chemotherapy=86.7%). The VAS nausea score was significantly lower after ginger essential oil inhalation compared to placebo during acute phase (P=0.040) but not sustained for overall treatment effect (treatment effect: F=1.82, P=0.183; time effect: F=43.98, P<0.001; treatment×time effect: F=2.04; P=0.102). Similarly, there was no significant effect of aromatherapy on vomiting [F(1, 58)=0.29, P=0.594]. However, a statistically significant change from baseline for global health status (P<0.001) was detected after ginger essential oil inhalation. A clinically relevant 10 points improvement on role functioning (P=0.002) and appetite loss (P<0.001) were also documented while patients were on ginger essential oil.

    CONCLUSION: At present time, the evidence derived from this study is not sufficiently convincing that inhaled ginger aromatherapy is an effective complementary therapy for CINV. The findings for HRQoL were however encouraging with significant improvement in several domains.

    Be well!


  5. JP Says:

    Updated 07/20/15:


    Psychosom Med. 2015 Jul 16.

    Association Between Mind-Body Practice and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors: The Rotterdam Study.

    OBJECTIVES: The increased popularity of mind-body practices highlights the need to explore their potential effects. We determined the cross-sectional association between mind-body practices and cardiometabolic risk factors.

    METHODS: We used data from 2579 participants free of cardiovascular disease from the Rotterdam Study (2009-2013). A structured home-based interview was used to evaluate engagement in mind-body practices including meditation, yoga, self-prayer, breathing exercises, or other forms of mind-body practice. We regressed engagement in mind-body practices on cardiometabolic risk factors (body mass index, blood pressure, and fasting blood levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose) and presence of metabolic syndrome. All analyses were adjusted for age, sex, educational level, smoking, alcohol consumption, (in)activities in daily living, grief, and depressive symptoms.

    RESULTS: Fifteen percent of the participants engaged in a form of mind-body practice. Those who did mind-body practices had significantly lower body mass index (β = -0.84 kg/m, 95% confidence interval [CI] = -1.30 to -0.38, p < .001), log-transformed triglyceride levels (β = -0.02, 95% CI = -0.04 to -0.001, p = .037), and log-transformed fasting glucose levels (β = -0.01, 95% CI = -0.02 to -0.004, p = .004). Metabolic syndrome was less common among individuals who engaged in mind-body practices (odds ratio = 0.71, 95% CI = 0.54-0.95, p = .019). CONCLUSIONS: Individuals who do mind-body practices have a favorable cardiometabolic risk profile compared with those who do not. However, the cross-sectional design of this study does not allow for causal inference and prospective, and intervention studies are needed to elucidate the association between mind-body practices and cardiometabolic processes. Be well! JP

  6. JP Says:

    Updated 09/17/15:


    J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2015 Aug 14.

    Effect of auditory guided imagery on glucose levels and on glycemic control in children with type 1 diabetes mellitus.

    OBJECTIVE: To assess the effect of auditory guided imagery (AGI) on glucose levels, glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), and quality of life (QOL) in type 1 diabetes mellitus children.

    METHODS: A blinded randomized controlled study comparing the effect of AGI accompanied by background music and background music solely (BMS). The study included 13 children, (7-16 years). The participants were connected to continuous glucose monitoring system for 5 days (short phase), and the outcome measure was the change in mean interstitial glucose concentration (IGC). Participants listened to the recording twice a week for 12 weeks (long phase), and the outcome measures were changes in QOL and in HbA1c.

    RESULTS: Mean IGC decreased in both AGI and BMS groups while listening. HbA1c decreased in both groups, but the decrease in the AGI group was significant.

    CONCLUSION: Listening to AGI is a potential approach for improving glycemic control and glucose levels in youth with T1DM, but further research is required.

    Be well!


  7. JP Says:

    Updated 1/18/16:


    J Music Ther. 2015 Fall;52(3):323-52.

    Coping with Work-Related Stress through Guided Imagery and Music (GIM): Randomized Controlled Trial.

    BACKGROUND: Long-term stress-related sick leave constitutes a serious health threat and an economic burden on both the single worker and the society. Effective interventions for the rehabilitation and facilitation of return to work are needed.

    OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to examine the effects of Guided Imagery and Music (GIM), a psychotherapy intervention including relaxation, music listening, and imagery, on biopsychosocial measures of work-related stress.

    METHODS: Twenty Danish workers on sick leave were randomized to music therapy versus wait-list control. Data collection was carried out at an occupational health ward in the period 2008-2010. Changes in salivary cortisol, testosterone, and melatonin were explored, and self-reported data on psychological stress symptoms (perceived stress, mood disturbance, sleep quality, physical distress symptoms, work readiness, well-being, anxiety, depression, immediate stress) were collected. Data regarding sick leave situation and job return were collected from participants throughout the study.

    RESULTS: Significant beneficial effects of GIM compared to wait-list after nine weeks with large effect sizes were found in well-being, mood disturbance, and physical distress, and in cortisol concentrations with a medium effect size. A comparison between early and late intervention as related to the onset of sick leave showed faster job return and significantly improved perceived stress, well-being, mood disturbance, depression, anxiety, and physical distress symptoms in favor of early intervention. In the whole sample, 83% of the participants had returned to work at nine weeks’ follow-up.

    CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that GIM is a promising treatment for work-related chronic stress, and further studies are recommended.

    Be well!


  8. JP Says:

    Updated 1/30/16:


    Schizophr Res. 2016 Jan 25.

    A randomized controlled trial on the psychophysiological effects of physical exercise and Tai-chi in patients with chronic schizophrenia.

    The chronic and prevalent natures of schizophrenia result in long-term institutionalization for the patients. Conventional treatment of anti-psychotic medication on management of psychotic symptoms often brings on severe side effects and reduces patients’ well-being. Tai-chi is a mind-body exercise that underscores motor coordination and relaxation. This 3-arm randomized controlled trial investigated the psychophysiological benefits of Tai-chi on 153 chronic schizophrenia patients, who were recruited from a mental health rehab complex and randomized into Tai-chi, exercise, or waitlist control groups. Both intervention groups received 12weeks of specific intervention plus standard medication received by the controls. All participants completed psychiatric interviews, self-report questionnaires, performance tasks, and salivary cortisol measures at baseline, 3-month, and 6-month follow-up on psychotic symptoms, motor coordination, memory, daily living function, and stress. Multigroup latent growth modeling was used to evaluate the intervention effects on the outcomes. Compared to controls, the Tai-chi group showed significant decreases in motor deficits and increases in backward digit span and mean cortisol, while the exercise group displayed significant decreases in motor deficits, negative and depression symptoms and increases in forward digit span, daily living function, and mean cortisol. The two interventions did not show significantly different therapeutic effects, except for fewer symptom manifestations in the exercise group. These results suggest psychophysiological benefits for Tai-chi on chronic schizophrenia patients in terms of motor coordination and memory. Though both Tai-chi and exercise groups tended to manifest fewer symptoms than the control group, the exercise group showed better symptoms management than the Tai-chi group.

    Be well!


  9. JP Says:

    Updated 05/18/16:


    Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2016 May-Jun;21(3):247-54.

    The effect of inhalation aromatherapy with damask rose (Rosa damascena) essence on the pain intensity after dressing in patients with burns: A clinical randomized trial.

    BACKGROUND: Pain is one of the common problems encountered by patients with burns, which increases after each dressing. This study aimed to investigate the effect of inhalation aromatherapy with damask rose essence on the pain of patients with burns that is caused after dressing.

    MATERIALS AND METHODS: A randomized clinical trial was conducted on 50 patients with second- and third-degree burn wounds. The baseline pain of the patients was assessed 30 min before they entered into the dressing room on the first and second days of intervention. The patients in the experimental group inhaled five drops of damask rose essence 40% in distilled water, while those in the control group inhaled five drops of distilled water as placebo. The pain intensity was assessed using Visual Analogue Scale at 15 and 30 min after the patients exited from the dressing room. Data were analyzed by SPSS (version 18) using descriptive and inferential statistics.

    RESULTS: There was significant difference between the mean of pain intensity before and after intervention at 15 and 30 min after dressing (P < 0.001). Moreover, there was significant difference in reduction of pain intensity before and after aromatherapy in the experimental group (P < 0.05). Also, there was a significant reduction in severity of pain after dressing in the experimental group compared with the control group (P < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Inhalation aromatherapy with damask rose could be effective for relieving the pain caused after dressing in patients with burns. Therefore, it could be suggested as a complementary therapy in burn patients for pain relief. Be well! JP

  10. JP Says:

    Updated 05/24/16:


    J Altern Complement Med. 2016 May 23.

    Guided Imagery for Total Knee Replacement: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study.

    OBJECTIVES: To determine the effect of guided imagery (GI) on functional outcomes of total knee replacement (TKR), explore psychological and neuroimmune mediators, and assess feasibility of study implementation.

    DESIGN: Investigator-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study.

    SETTINGS: Hospital, surgeon’s office, participant’s home.

    PARTICIPANTS: 82 persons undergoing TKR.

    INTERVENTIONS: Audiorecordings of TKR-specific GI scripts or placebo-control audiorecordings of audiobook segments.

    OUTCOME MEASURES: Gait velocity and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC) Function scale.

    RESULTS: Outcomes for 58 participants (29 receiving GI and 29 controls) were analyzed at 6 months after surgery. The most frequent reason for noncompletion was protocol-driven exclusion at 6 months for having the contralateral knee replaced before the study endpoint (n = 15). With imaging ability as a moderator, gait velocity, but not WOMAC Function score, was significantly improved at 6 months in the GI group. Participants in the GI group, but not the control group, had lower WOMAC Pain scores at 3 weeks after surgery than at baseline. Hair cortisol concentration was significantly lower at 6 months after surgery than at baseline in the GI group but not the control group. GI group participants had lower treatment adherence but greater treatment credibility than the control group.

    CONCLUSION: Randomized controlled trials of GI in the TKR population are feasible, but inclusion/exclusion criteria influence attrition. Further studies are needed to elaborate this study’s findings, which suggest that guided imagery improves objective, but not patient-reported, outcomes of TKR. Hair cortisol concentration results suggest that engagement in a time-limited guided imagery intervention may contribute to stress reduction even after the intervention is terminated. Further investigation into optimal content and dosing of GI is needed.

    Be well!


  11. JP Says:

    Updated 06/26/16:


    PLoS One. 2016 Jun 24;11(6):e0156911.

    Guided Imagery And Progressive Muscle Relaxation as a Cluster of Symptoms Management Intervention in Patients Receiving Chemotherapy: A Randomized Control Trial.

    OBJECTIVE: Patients receiving chemotherapy often experience many different symptoms that can be difficult to alleviate and ultimately negatively influence their quality of life. Such symptoms include pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and retching, anxiety and depression. There is a gap in the relevant literature on the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioural and relaxation techniques in symptom clusters. The study reflects this gap in the literature and aimed to test the effectiveness of Guided Imagery (GI) and Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) on a cluster of symptoms experienced by patients undergoing chemotherapy.

    METHODS: This was a randomized control trial with 208 patients equally assigned either in the intervention or the control group. Measurements in both groups were collected at baseline and at completion of intervention (4 weeks). Patients were assessed for pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and retching, anxiety and depression. The overall management of the cluster was also assessed based on the patients’ self-reported health related quality of life-HRQoL. Chi-square tests (X2), independent T-tests and Linear Mixed Models were calculated.

    RESULTS: Patients in the intervention group experienced lower levels of Fatigue (p<0.0.0225), and Pain (p = 0.0003) compared to those in the control group and experienced better HRQoL (p<0.0001) [PRE-POST: Intervention: Pain 4.2(2.5) - 2.5(1.6), Fatigue 27.6(4.1) - 19.3(4.1), HRQoL 54.9(22.7) - 64.5(23), Control: Pain 3.5(1.7) - 4.8(1.5), Fatigue 28.7(4.1) - 32.5(3.8), HRQoL 51.9(22.3)- 41.2(24.1)]. Nausea, vomiting and retching occurred significantly less often in the intervention group [pre-post: 25.4(5.9)- 20.6(5.6) compared to the control group (17.8(6.5)- 22.7(5.3) (F = 58.50 p<0.0001). More patients in the control group (pre:n = 33-post:n = 47) were found to be moderately depressed compared to those in the intervention group (pre:n = 35-post:n = 15) (X2 = 5.93; p = 0.02).

    CONCLUSION: This study provided evidence that the combination of GI and PMR can be effective in the management of a cluster of symptoms in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. These techniques can complement existing management measures to achieve a comprehensive management of this symptom cluster and increase patients HRQoL.

    Be well!


  12. JP Says:

    Updated 09/02/16:


    Psychopathology. 2016 Sep 2.

    Effect of Community-Based Social Skills Training and Tai-Chi Exercise on Outcomes in Patients with Chronic Schizophrenia: A Randomized, One-Year Study.

    BACKGROUND: Antipsychotic drugs are limited in their ability to improve negative symptoms, quality of life, and medication adherence in patients with schizophrenia. The addition of nonpharmacological interventions like social skills training has a positive effect on medication adherence and decreases rehospitalization rates but is limited in improving patients’ symptoms, aggressive behaviors, and quality of life. Aerobic exercise, especially Tai-chi, can potentially reduce psychopathological and negative symptoms, decrease aggressive behaviors, and improve quality of life. It is an ideal rehabilitation intervention for patients with schizophrenia. However, no study has investigated the effects of social skills training plus Tai-chi on outcomes among outpatients with schizophrenia. This study analyzes the effect of antipsychotics combined with community-based integrated interventions on outcomes of schizophrenia.

    METHODS: In this study, a 24-session social skills training plus Tai-chi was used in community settings among patients with schizophrenia. A total of 244 patients were randomly assigned to medication treatment alone (MTA group) or community-based integrated intervention (CBII group), which accepted social skills training plus Tai-chi in addition to medication treatment. Generalized linear mixed models were used to evaluate the intervention effect (group effect), intervention effect over time (time effect), and interaction effect (group × time effect). t tests were used to evaluate between-group differences on clinical variables. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to analyze the differences between the intervention at 12 months and baseline for the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) negative symptoms and quality of life-social domain.

    RESULTS: Compared with the MTA group, the CBII group had lower scores on PANSS (F = 17.312, p < 0.001) and negative symptoms (F = 44.909, p < 0.001), a lower risk for aggressive behavior (F = 12.382, p < 0.001), and a greater improvement in adherence to medication (F = 12.391, p < 0.001) after 1 year of intervention. The changes in PANSS total scores, negative scores, and social domain of the World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale-Brief version (WHOQOL-BREF) from baseline to 12 months were significant between the two groups (PANSS total score: t = 4.839, p < 0.001; negative symptoms: t = 8.250, p < 0.001, and quality of life-social domain: t = -2.171, p = 0.031). Multiple linear regression analysis also showed that the intervention was significantly effective for changes from baseline to 12 months on PANSS total score (B = 0.804, p < 0.001), negative score (B = 0.709, p < 0.001), and social domain of quality of life (B = -0.673, p = 0.044). CONCLUSIONS: This study suggested that the community-based integrated intervention such as social skills training plus Tai-chi should be part of a rehabilitation effort for patients with schizophrenia in order to improve clinical symptoms, quality of life, and medication adherence. Be well! JP

  13. JP Says:

    Updated 09/18/16:


    Health Place. 2016 Sep 14;42:54-62.

    Multiple health benefits of urban tree canopy: The mounting evidence for a green prescription.

    The purpose of this study was to enhance the understanding of the health-promoting potential of trees in an urbanized region of the United States. This was done using high-resolution LiDAR and imagery data to quantify tree cover within 250m of the residence of 7910 adult participants in the California Health Interview Survey, then testing for main and mediating associations between tree cover and multiple health measures. The results indicated that more neighborhood tree cover, independent from green space access, was related to better overall health, primarily mediated by lower overweight/obesity and better social cohesion, and to a lesser extent by less type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and asthma. These findings suggest an important role for trees and nature in improving holistic population health in urban areas.

    Be well!


  14. JP Says:

    Updated 10/29/16:


    J Altern Complement Med. 2016 Oct 20.

    Aromatherapy Improves Work Performance Through Balancing the Autonomic Nervous System.

    OBJECTIVE: This study analyzed the efficacy of aromatherapy in improving work performance and reducing workplace stress.

    SUBJECTS: The initial sample comprised 42 administrative university workers (Mage = 42.21 years, standard deviation = 7.12; 10 male).

    INTERVENTION: All sessions were performed in a university computer classroom. The participants were randomly assigned into an aromatherapy group (AG) and a control group (CG), and they were invited to participate in a specific session only once. They were seated in front of a computer. During the intervention period, some oil diffusers were switched on and were in operation throughout the session with petitgrain essential oil for AG sessions and a neutral oil (almond) for CG sessions. At the same time, participants completed a computer task on a specific Web site typing on their keyboard until they had finished it. The single times were different for all participants and were recorded on the Web site as “performance time.”

    OUTCOME MEASURES: Before and after the intervention, participants completed anxiety and mood state questionnaires (the Stait-Trait Anxiety Inventory [STAI] and the Profile of Mood States [POMS]). Heart-rate variability (HRV) was measured before (PRE), during (20-25 min), and after (POS) the intervention to analyze autonomic nervous system regulation.

    RESULTS: The AG performed the Web site task 2.28 min faster than the CG (p = 0.05). The two groups showed differences in the following HRV parameters: low frequency (p = 0.05), high frequency (p = 0.02), standard deviation of all RR intervals (p = 0.05), and root mean square of differences (p = 0.02). All participants in all groups showed a decrease from PRE to POST for STAI (p < 0.001), Tension-POMS (p < 0.001), and Vigour-POMS (p = 0.01) scales. CONCLUSIONS: Aromatherapy (inhaling petitgrain essential oil) can improve performance in the workplace. These results could be explained by an autonomic balance on the sympathetic/parasympathetic system through a combined action of the petitgrain main components (linalyl acetate, linalool, and myrcene). The final effect could be an improvement of the mental and emotional condition by a combination of reducing the stress level and increasing the arousal level of the participants in terms of attentiveness and alertness. Be well! JP

  15. JP Says:

    Updated 11/22/16:


    J Altern Complement Med. 2016 Nov 21.

    The Practice of Hatha Yoga for the Treatment of Pain Associated with Endometriosis.

    OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to compare chronic pelvic pain, menstrual patterns, and quality of life (QoL) in two groups of women with endometriosis: those who did and those who did not participate in a specific 8-week yoga intervention.

    METHOD: This was a randomized controlled trial. It was conducted at the University of Campinas Medical School, Campinas, SP, Brazil. Forty women were randomly divided into two groups: an intervention group of women who practiced yoga (n = 28), and a control group of women who did not practice yoga (n = 12). Participants attended 90-min scheduled yoga sessions twice a week for 8 weeks. Additionally, an Endometriosis Health Profile (EHP)-30 questionnaire was applied to evaluate women’s QoL at admission and 2 months later upon completion of the yoga program. Menstrual and daily pain patterns were evaluated through a daily calendar (visual analog scale).

    RESULTS: The degree of daily pain was significantly lower among the women who practiced yoga compared with the non-yoga group (p = 0.0007). There was an improvement of QoL in both groups between baseline and the end of the study evaluation. In relation to EHP-30 domains, pain (p = 0.0046), impotence (p = 0.0006), well-being (p = 0.0009), and image (p = 0.0087) from the central questionnaire, and work (p = 0.0027) and treatment (p = 0.0245) from the modular questionnaire were significantly different between the study groups over time. There was no significant difference between the two groups regarding the diary of menstrual patterns (p = 0.96).

    CONCLUSIONS: Yoga practice was associated with a reduction in levels of chronic pelvic pain and an improvement in QoL in women with endometriosis.

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  16. JP Says:

    Updated 01/07/17:


    J Tradit Complement Med. 2016 Jun 27;7(1):121-125.

    Aromatherapy with two essential oils from Satureja genre and mindfulness meditation to reduce anxiety in humans.

    The goal of this study was to verify whether association of aromatherapy with essential oils of Satureja brevicalyx or Satureja boliviana and mindfulness meditation can reduce anxiety levels in humans. A randomized experimental trial was carried out with 108 participants who were divided into 6 groups, comprising a waiting list control group and five experimental groups. Aromatherapy was carried out by inhalation of essential oils while mindfulness intervention program was focused on “flow meditation”. The anxiety index was evaluated by State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). Measures were taken two times: pretest and posttest. State and Trait anxiety scores showed a decrease in posttest study phase in comparison with pretest in all experimental groups (p < 0.005), especially in those where aromatherapy and mindfulness meditation were used together. All Cohen's d scores were over to 1 that means a large size effect in anxiety variable. Percentages of change showed reductions of anxiety variable ranging between 20% and 47%. All treatments used isolated or associated, may be considered alternative treatment options for anxiety.

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  17. JP Says:

    Updated 01/14/17:


    Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:9429504.

    Yoga Therapy in Children with Cystic Fibrosis Decreases Immediate Anxiety and Joint Pain.

    This study was designed to determine whether yoga might alleviate symptoms of pain, sleep disturbance, anxiety, and depression in children with cystic fibrosis (CF). CF is the most common genetic, life-limiting chronic disease among Caucasian populations. It primarily affects the lungs but also many other secretory organs and consequently leads to significant morbidities. Research has shown that children with CF have significantly increased depression, anxiety, and pain compared to their healthy counterparts. Subjects participated in six one-on-one sessions over a 10-week period with a certified instructor who designed each yoga practice based on a preestablished list of 30 yoga asanas. Questionnaires evaluating pain, sleep disturbance, sustained anxiety, immediate anxiety, and depression were administered. Differences between premeasures and postmeasures were evaluated using a two-sided test. Twenty subjects were assessed (12 females/8 males), median age of 11 (7-20) years. Mean immediate anxiety scores decreased (before session to after session 29 to 23.6, respectively, p < 0.001). Joint pain improved (3.25 to 3.65, p = 0.028). CFQ-R emotion subscale improved from 79.2 to 85 (p = 0.073), and the respiratory subscale improved from 66.7 to 79.2 (p = 0.076). Other results were less notable. We conclude that yoga may reduce immediate anxiety and joint pain in patients with CF. Be well! JP

  18. JP Says:

    Updated 05/22/17:


    J Altern Complement Med. 2017 May 15.

    Comparisons for Effectiveness of Aromatherapy and Acupressure Massage on Quality of Life in Career Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

    OBJECTIVES: This study was aimed to compare the effectiveness of aromatherapy and acupressure massage intervention strategies on the sleep quality and quality of life (QOL) in career women.

    DESIGN: The randomized controlled trial experimental design was used in the present study. One hundred and thirty-two career women (24-55 years) voluntarily participated in this study and they were randomly assigned to (1) placebo (distilled water), (2) lavender essential oil (Lavandula angustifolia), (3) blended essential oil (1:1:1 ratio of L. angustifolia, Salvia sclarea, and Origanum majorana), and (4) acupressure massage groups for a 4-week treatment. The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index and Short Form 36 Health Survey were used to evaluate the intervention effects at pre- and postintervention.

    RESULTS: After a 4-week treatment, all experimental groups (blended essential oil, lavender essential oil, and acupressure massage) showed significant improvements in sleep quality and QOL (p < 0.05). Significantly greater improvement in QOL was observed in the participants with blended essential oil treatment compared with those with lavender essential oil (p < 0.05), and a significantly greater improvement in sleep quality was observed in the acupressure massage and blended essential oil groups compared with the lavender essential oil group (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: The blended essential oil exhibited greater dual benefits on improving both QOL and sleep quality compared with the interventions of lavender essential oil and acupressure massage in career women. These results suggest that aromatherapy and acupressure massage improve the sleep and QOL and may serve as the optimal means for career women to improve their sleep and QOL. Be well! JP

  19. JP Says:

    Updated 12/14/17:


    Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:7217619.

    Anxiolytic Effect of Citrus aurantium L. in Crack Users.

    The objective of this study was to investigate the anxiolytic effects of the essential oil (EO) of Citrus aurantium L. in patients experiencing crack withdrawal. This was developed with internal users in therapeutic communities in Paraíba, Brazil. The test population consisted of 51 volunteers, subdivided into three groups. To elicit anxiety, the Simulated Public Speaking (SPS) method was used. Physiological measures were assessed at specific phases during the experiment using appropriate equipment. Psychological measures of anxiety were assessed using the Trait-State Anxiety Inventory (IDATE) and the Analog Smoke Scale (HAS). EO was administered by nebulization. The experiment was developed in individual sessions and consolidated to four phases. The results demonstrated that the test subjects in the groups that were given the EO maintained controlled anxiety levels during SPS, when compared to the Control Group (no treatment). Subjects who used the EO also maintained levels of “discomfort” and “cognitive impairment” during SPS. It was concluded that individuals who are experiencing internal crack cocaine withdrawal present high anxiety traits and that nebulization of the EO of Citrus aurantium L. provided an acute anxiolytic effect in crack cocaine users exposed to SPS.

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  20. JP Says:

    Updated 06/16/18:


    Fitoterapia. 2018 Jun 12.

    Antinociceptive effect of inhalation of the essential oil of bergamot in mice.

    Bergamot essential oil (BEO) has proven wide evidence of pharmacological antinociceptive effectiveness both in nociceptive and in neuropathic pain models. The antinociceptive properties of BEO for inhalation have not been investigated. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effects of the inhalation of BEO on formalin-induced nociceptive response in mice. Male ddY-strain mice (Japan SLC, Hamamatsu, Japan) of 23-25 g of weight at the time the experiments underwent the formalin test. Twenty μL of formalin (2% in saline) were administered into the plantar surface of the mice hindpaw and the time of licking/biting was observed and recorded at intervals of 5 min. The device for BEO inhalatory delivery consisted in a filter paper disc soaked with known volume of BEO placed on the edge of the cage. Inhalation of BEO exerted antinociceptive activity. In particular, it reduced the formalin-induced licking/biting behaviour in a manner that was dependent on the volume of BEO used in the device for its release and on the time of exposure to the phytocomplex. The results support the use of BEO in aromatherapy for complementary management of chronic pain relief in a stepwise therapeutic programme.

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  21. JP Says:

    Updated 12/10/18:


    Rev Lat Am Enfermagem. 2018 Nov 29;26:e3101.

    Guided imagery relaxation therapy on preoperative anxiety: a randomized clinical trial.

    OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of relaxation therapy with guided imagery on state anxiety and cortisol in the immediate preoperative period in patients submitted to bariatric surgery by videolaparoscopy.

    METHOD: A randomized, triple-blind clinical trial in a large teaching hospital in the interior of Minas Gerais. Twenty-four patients who would undergo video-laparoscopic bariatric surgery were randomly allocated in two groups, namely 12 in the control group and 12 in the experimental group. State anxiety was assessed by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and blood cortisol levels were measured before and after the intervention or standard care. Descriptive analyzes were used for the quantitative variables and Student’s t-test for independent samples, in the analysis of the differences between the state anxiety scores and cortisol levels.

    RESULTS: The experimental group presented a statistically significant reduction of the state anxiety scores (p = 0.005) as well as of cortisol levels (p <0.001) after the intervention.

    CONCLUSION: Guided imagery relaxation therapy is an effective nursing intervention for the reduction of state anxiety and blood cortisol levels in the preoperative period in patients undergoing video-laparoscopic bariatric surgery.

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