Gifts of Giving and Her Impact & Some Stress-Free Relief for Her
When you think of May, does it remind you of your mom? In case you forgot,
May 8th is the day to celebrate the important mother figures in our
lives. Unfortunately, in our society we can sometimes tend to blame our mom
more than praise her for certain traits and health issues.
Although our mothers can affect our health outcomes, as I wrote about here, we do have
the power to modulate this… even at the level of genetics! It can also be
soothing to realize that regardless of the characteristics our mom provided in
her genes (and dads too) and personality, this combination makes us unique individuals.
We can use these experiences and knowledge to understand ourselves better, give
gratitude to our past, heal wounds for the future, and rise to better health.
Furthermore, the healing and profound power of a mother’s
touch as something which is vital for optimal development. If someone
didn’t receive it when we needed it, there are ways to soothe ourselves now
through understanding, epigenetics,
Regardless of if your mother was amazing (like I am fortunate to claim),
if you learned lessons from your parental relationship and grew, or if your mom
is no longer with you, celebrating love and the strong women in our lives is very
healing for our own physical health. In fact, you can read 10 science-based
reasons gratitude will benefit you
here. (Did you know “an attitude of gratitude” can even help student’s
More on the Mom-Body Connection
A few studies this month also
highlighted the importance of mom’s impact on our future generations. One study
showed that the risks associated with a later birth in moms was outweighed by
the environmental benefits. This means, a mom’s attitude and here resources
impact her child’s development. Science
Daily reported on this change as follows:
Both public health and social conditions have been
improving over time in many countries. Previous research on the relationship
between maternal age and child outcomes has ignored the importance of these
macro-level environmental changes over time. From the perspective of any
individual parent, delaying childbearing means having a child with a later
birth year. For example, a ten-year difference in maternal age is accompanied
by a decade of changes to social and environmental conditions. Taking this
perspective, this new MPIDR-study shows that when women delay childbearing to
older ages their children are healthier, taller, and more highly educated. It
shows that despite the risks associated with childbearing at older ages, which
are attributable to aging of the reproductive system, these risks are either
counterbalanced, or outweighed, by the positive changes to the environment in
the period during which the mother delayed her childbearing.
Still, it’s not just about
money and environment. The gift of love is free. Science Daily also cited a study that showed that moms who nurtured
their little ones had babes with bigger brains:
Children whose mothers were nurturing during the
preschool years, as opposed to later in childhood, have more robust growth in
brain structures associated with learning, memory and stress response than
children with less supportive moms.
According to the study
researchers, the children of moms who were viewed as more nurturing exhibited growth
in the hippocampus region as determined by three MRI scans. This area in the
brain is associated with emotional regulation, memory, and learning. In this
study with 127 youths, emotional regulation was the key factor reported on for
It’s Not Just Mom’s Love- It’s Community
Another recent study showed the
impact of children’s friends and social connections on their stress. We all
health impacts of stress! The researchers indicated by studying different
aspects of the stress response, they had a better comprehensive view of how our
environment and connection modulates our physiology. Science Daily states:
For this focused study, Ponzi and Flinn chose a
sample of 40 children ranging in ages from 5 to 12 and who represented about 80
percent of the total children in the village. Each child was asked a series of
questions about their friends to measure their perceived density and closeness
of their social networks. Three samples of saliva were collected before, during
and after the interview and cortisol and alpha-amylase levels were measured.
“We found that, using the data we collected
from the one-on-one interviews, children who were stressed about the size and
density of their perceived social networks had elevated anticipatory cortisol
levels, and responded by secreting more alpha-amylase,” Flinn said.
“Our study was in line with past research on stress, loneliness and social
support in adults, but we strengthened past research by applying it to
children. Future research should consider a multi-system approach like this one
to study cognitive and biological mechanisms underlying children’s perception.”
Supporting Mom’s Health with Aromatherapy
Now, time to give our moms or
mother figures some hints on self-care, because they do so much for us! Here
are some abstracts on the use of essential oils and aromatherapy to soothe moms.
1. Improving Sleep During the Postpartum
What mom doesn’t need more
sleep? This study in the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal evaluated
the impact of aromatherapy on moms in the postpartum period:
This study was a randomized clinical trial with the
control group. A total of 158 mothers in postpartum period (with certain
inclusion criteria) were enrolled in the study and assigned randomly to two
groups of control and intervention. Lavender fragrance (made by Barij Essence
Pharmaceutical Co.) was used by participants in the intervention group nightly
before sleeping. The fragrance was dropped on cotton balls, which were placed
on a cylindrical container at mothers’ disposal. Keeping the container at a
projected distance of 20 cm, the participants inhaled 10 deep breaths and then
the container was placed beside their pillow until morning. This procedure was
done 4 times a week for 8 weeks. For the control group, the same intervention
was done with the placebo. The instrument for collecting data was Pittsburgh
sleep quality index, which was completed at the baseline, fourth, and eighth
weeks after the intervention. Data were analyzed using independent t test and
repeated measures analysis of variance calculated by SPSS16….
Considering the effects of aromatherapy on the improvement of mother’s
sleep quality during postpartum period, aromatherapy has been suggested as a
non-pharmacological method for the improvement of the maternal health.
2. Calming Anxiety in Labor and Reducing
Blood Pressure Readings with Geranium
Methods: In study, was
carried out on 100 nulliparous women admitted to Bent al-Hoda Hospital in the
city of Bojnord in North Khorasan province of Iran during 2012-2013. The women
were randomly assigned to two groups of equal size, one experimental group
(geranium essential oil) and one control (placebo) group. Anxiety levels were
measured using Spielberger’ questionnaire before and after intervention.
Physiological parameters (systolic and diastolic blood pressure, respiratory
rate, pulse rate) were also measured before and after intervention in both
groups. Data analysis was conducted using the x2 test, paired t-test,
Mann-Whitney U test, and Wilcox on test on SPSS 11.5.
Results: The mean
anxiety score decreased significantly after inhalation of the aroma of geranium
essential oil. There was also a significant decrease in diastolic blood
Conclusion: Aroma of
essential oil of geraniums can effectively reduce anxiety during labor and can
be recommended as a non-invasive anti-anxiety aid during childbirth.
3. Burnout Relief
A small randomized, controlled,
double-blind pilot study that included 14 participants was done to “determine the effectiveness of a mixture of
essential oils (peppermint, basil, and helichrysum) on mental exhaustion, or
moderate burnout (ME/MB) using a personal inhaler.” The study from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine abstract reads:
DESIGN: This was a randomized, controlled,
double-blind pilot study. Data were collected 3 times a day for 3 weeks
(Monday-Friday). The first week was baseline for both groups, the second week
was intervention (aromatherapy or placebo), and the third week was washout…
INTERVENTIONS: Participants were randomized to
receive a personal inhaler containing either a mixture of essential oils or
rose water (as used in Indian cooking).
OUTCOME MEASURES: The outcome measures were a 0-10
scale with 10=worst feeling of burnout, 0=no feeling of burnout. There was a
qualitative questionnaire rating aroma and a questionnaire listing perceived
RESULTS: While both groups had a reduction in
perception of ME/MB, the aromatherapy group had a much greater reduction.
CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that inhaling
essential oils may reduce the perceived level of mental fatigue/burnout.
Further research is warranted.
A One Sentence Summary
Therefore, our health can start
with our moms, be impacted by our own attitude and behaviors, and supported by
Catch the Latest News
This week, on my homepage, I
wrote about the need for change in healthcare from sick-care to well-care. Just
as I was in my writer’s flow, an article on how Medical
Errors are the Third Cause of Death in the United States popped up in my inbox.
Serendipity!! You can read all about how this is connected to empowering
patients’ health and changing our approach to medicine.
My blog also provides
lots of nerd-out opportunities for your skimming pleasure on the Top Holistic
and Integrative Health News for April 2016.
Be sure to read it here.
10 Reasons Why Gratitude is Healthy. Huffington Post.
July 12, 2014.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2003;
Gratitude and the Reduced Cost of Materialism in Adolescents.
J Happiness Stud. 2010; 12:289-302.
Advanced Maternal Age and
Offspring Outcomes: Reproductive Aging and Counterbalancing Period Trends. Population
and Development Review, 2016; 42 (1): 69.
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Children of older mothers do
better: The benefits associated with being born in a later year outweigh the
biological risks associated with being born to an older mother. ScienceDaily,
12 April 2016.
Washington University School of Medicine. Nurturing during
preschool years boosts child’s brain growth: Mothers’ support linked to robust
growth of brain area involved in learning, memory, stress response. ScienceDaily,
25 April 2016.
Luby JL, Belden A, Harms MP, Tillman R, Barch DM.
Preschool is a sensitive period for the influence of maternal support on the
trajectory of hippocampal development. PNAS.
University of Missouri-Columbia. Children react
physically to stress from their social networks: A 28-year study reveals that
the social relationships nurtured in childhood may have physiological
consequences. ScienceDaily. 2 May 2016.
Cortisol, salivary alpha-amylase and children’s
perceptions of their social networks. Social Neuroscience, 2015; 11 (2):164.
Keshavarz Afshar M, Behboodi
Moghadam Z, Taghizadeh Z, Bekhradi R, Montazeri A, Mokhtari P. Lavender
Fragrance Essential Oil and the Quality of Sleep in Postpartum Women. Iranian
Red Crescent Medical Journal. 2015;17(4):e25880.
Fakari F, Tabatabaeichehr M, Kamali H, Rashidi Fakari F, Naseri M. Effect of
Inhalation of Aroma of Geranium Essence on Anxiety and Physiological Parameters
during First Stage of Labor in Nulliparous Women: a Randomized Clinical Trial. Journal of Caring Sciences.
Varney E, Buckle J. Effect of
inhaled essential oils on mental exhaustion and moderate burnout: a small pilot
study. J Altern Complement Med. 2013
Jan;19(1):69-71. doi: 10.1089/acm.2012.0089.