Massage for Middle-Aged and Older Clients

From symptoms of menopause to increased stress to skin conditions, aging bodies are sometimes in need of deeper, more frequent care.

 May 1, 2024

More recently, the benefits of integrative health care approaches, including massage therapy, are showing themselves to be very effective in helping manage some of the conditions that frequently arise in the middle years of life.

Aromatherapy Massage + Menopausal Symptoms

Women experience a variety of physical and psychological symptoms around menopause and postmenopause. Researchers wanted to know what effects of aromatherapy massage with peppermint and lemon essential oil would have on menopausal symptoms.

The Study.

A total of 63 menopausal women were enrolled in this 2023 double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three groups: Menta peppermint, Citrus lemon or placebo.

Essential oils in the aromatherapy therapy massage groups were diluted with 1.5 percent sweet almond oil, and pure sweet almond oil was used in the placebo group. Each participant received a hand and arm massage with the selected oil for 30 minutes twice a week for four weeks.

Menopausal symptoms were assessed before and after each session using the Menopause Symptoms Rating Scale.

The Results.

Researchers found there were statistically significant differences between the essential oil groups and placebo. Overall, the peppermint essential oil was more effective than lemon.

Related: Get Better Sleep With Aromatherapy

Both peppermint and lemon were effective for somatic symptoms, though only lemon oil proved effective for psychological symptoms. “The study found that aromatherapy massage with peppermint and lemon essential oil effectively reduced menopause symptoms,” researchers noted. “Peppermint essential oil was more effective than lemon essential oil in reducing menopausal symptoms.”

Aromatherapy Massage + Stress and Pruritus in Older Women

A decrease in skin elasticity and thickness that decreases the skin’s ability to retain moisture means pruritus is a common disease among older adults. Researchers asked: What are the effects of aromatherapy massage on pruritus and stress in older women?

The Study.

This 2023 nonequivalence, pre-post, quasi-experimental study comprised 64 women who were divided between an intervention and control group. By the end, five participants dropped out, leaving 59 to be included in analysis.

The aromatherapy massage intervention included a blend of three essential oils: 1 mL of lavender, 0.25 mL of Roman chamomile and 0.25 mL of sandalwood diluted to 1.5 percent with a sweet almond carrier oil. The control group received massage with 0.25 percent sandalwood oil.

Related: Massage and Aromatherapy

Outcome measures included the degree, area and frequency of pruritus and its impact on everyday life using the Pruritus Score Scale. Skin hydration was also measured using a moisture-measuring module sensor and skin pH was measured using a Howskin device. The Perceived Stress Scale measured stress.

The Results.

Researchers found a significant difference between the intervention and control groups regarding both relief of pruritus and stress levels, and no adverse effects were noted.

“Aromatherapy massage can be an effective intervention to decrease pruritus and stress in older women,” researchers concluded. “Further studies with larger samples that include men are required to confirm the generalizability of these results.”

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1. Doner S, Tuzmen H, Duran B, Sunar F. “The effect of aromatherapy massage with lemon and peppermint essential oil on menopausal symptoms: A double-blinded, randomized placebo controlled clinical trial.” Explore (NY). 2023 Sep 13:S1550–8307.

2. Shim MS, Je NJ, Lee DY. “Aromatherapy massage for relief of pruritus and stress in older women.” Altern Ther Health Med. 2023 Mar;29(2):36–41.