Thus, Bausell (2007) notes that although alternative medicine has grown in popularity in the past 15 years as a healthcare system, people still largely use it as complement to conventional healthcare. However, evidence continues to mount that aromatherapy, especially the use of essential oils, has displaced conventional medicine as treatment of choice in many countries. In fact, the Cochran Complementary Medicine Field in 2007 revealed that what is considered complementary or alternative therapy in one country is now considered conventional medical practice in another (Manheimer & Berman, 2007). This only confirms what the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported as early as 1978 that majority of the world's population has come to depend on traditional medicine for primary healthcare.
Such reported increase in the clinical importance of essential oil use among all aromatherapy methods is the main topic selected for this paper because of its high social relevance and potential for achieving the goals of the primary healthcare program, which means health for all. The reason is that while other plant-based medicines are now prepared commercially to come at a cost, essential oils can be extracted at home by anyone with a backyard plot of volatile herbs and are therefore affordable to everyone. For a nurse like me, the socially oriented and community-based healthcare scenario promised by plant-extracted therapeutic oils is a special concern because, together with midwives, nurses belong to the primary healthcare loop that may work for a public health center or a general physician within a community. In this connection, Ersser (1990, in Price & Price, 1999) observed: "A significant number of nurses within the health authority are now using essential oils and/or massage in their practice." To gather the confirmatory empirical evidence, this paper reviews the existing literature on the increasing use of essential oils for therapeutic massage. Based on the literature review and my own clinical experience, I then set the question to guide the research and subsequently identify the appropriate methodologies to be used to address the research problem. The final chapter summarises the findings, in the process justifying the methodology approach used in answering the research question.
The search for the relevant literature was focused on the Oracle database, which hosts the web search engine Yahoo. All in all, the search yielded 16 sources, of which 5 are books, 1 a medical review and 10 journal articles, most of which are research papers. Only two of the selected sources hark back to the late 1980s as time reference (Valnet, 1980; Mitscher, et al., 1987), 8 refer to the 1990s (Craker, 1990; British Medical Association, 1993; Prudent, et al., 1995; Reynolds, 1997; Jones, 1996; Darokar, et al., 1998; Price & Price, 1999; Zollman & Vickers, 1999), and 6 speak of the more