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Aromatherapy Helps Reduce Stress during MRI, Study Finds

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A new study from Cleveland Clinic shows the benefits of aromatherapy, specifically for those who might get claustrophobic during an MRI. Image for illustration purposes
A new study from Cleveland Clinic shows the benefits of aromatherapy, specifically for those who might get claustrophobic during an MRI. Image for illustration purposes
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CLEVELAND CLINIC – A new study from Cleveland Clinic shows the benefits of aromatherapy, specifically for those who might get claustrophobic during an MRI.
 
If you’re unfamiliar, a patient has to lay inside the machine to be scanned, and in some cases, it can last up to an hour. 
 
“A lot of patients don’t realize they’re claustrophobic until they go into the scanner, which becomes a little bit overwhelming because they feel confined,” said Angel Houston, who is an MRI technician.

Houston led the study and said her research found the use of aromatherapy reduced patient anxiety and also improved image quality since they were able to lay more still. 

So, how exactly does the process work? 

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Houston said she first starts by talking with the patient about how they’re feeling and then offers aromatherapy to aid in calming them. 

From there, she’ll place a tab with essential oil on the inside of the MRI machine. 

She notes the strength of the scent varies based on preference, but the results are always positive. 
 
“When you’re more relaxed, your heart rate is more consistent, your breath holds are more accurate and you’re able to follow the commands, so it’s a win/win for everybody,” explained Houston.
 
She said previous studies have shown how aromatherapy can help calm individuals, but there’s been little done on its use in medical settings. 

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