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Aromatherapy and Essential Oils (PDQ®): Complementary and alternative medicine - Health Professional Information [NCI] - History


These assertions have been contested by the biochemistry and psychology communities, which take a different view of the possible mechanism of action of odors on the human brain (most do not differentiate the odors produced by essential oils from those of synthetic fragrances).[30] This neurobiological view, which focuses mostly on the emotional and psychological effects of fragrances (as opposed to the other symptomatic effects claimed by aromatherapists), takes into account what is known about olfactory transduction and the connection of the olfactory system to other central nervous system functions, including memory; however, it is primarily theoretical because of the lack of significant research addressing this topic.


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  26. Burns EE, Blamey C, Ersser SJ, et al.: An investigation into the use of aromatherapy in intrapartum midwifery practice. J Altern Complement Med 6 (2): 141-7, 2000.
  27. Kite SM, Maher EJ, Anderson K, et al.: Development of an aromatherapy service at a Cancer Centre. Palliat Med 12 (3): 171-80, 1998.
  28. Komori T, Fujiwara R, Tanida M, et al.: Effects of citrus fragrance on immune function and depressive states. Neuroimmunomodulation 2 (3): 174-80, 1995 May-Jun.
  29. Wiebe E: A randomized trial of aromatherapy to reduce anxiety before abortion. Eff Clin Pract 3 (4): 166-9, 2000 Jul-Aug.
  30. Perry N, Perry E: Aromatherapy in the management of psychiatric disorders: clinical and neuropharmacological perspectives. CNS Drugs 20 (4): 257-80, 2006.
  31. Ballard CG, O'Brien JT, Reichelt K, et al.: Aromatherapy as a safe and effective treatment for the management of agitation in severe dementia: the results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with Melissa. J Clin Psychiatry 63 (7): 553-8, 2002.
  32. Smallwood J, Brown R, Coulter F, et al.: Aromatherapy and behaviour disturbances in dementia: a randomized controlled trial. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry 16 (10): 1010-3, 2001.
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  36. Rose JE, Behm FM: Inhalation of vapor from black pepper extract reduces smoking withdrawal symptoms. Drug Alcohol Depend 34 (3): 225-9, 1994.
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  38. Post-White N, Nichols W: Randomized trial testing of QueaseEase™ essential oil for motion sickness. International Journal of Essential Oil Therapeutics 1 (4): 158-66, 2007.
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  40. Hines S, Steels E, Chang A, et al.: Aromatherapy for treatment of postoperative nausea and vomiting. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 4: CD007598, 2012.
  41. Oyama H, Kaneda M, Katsumata N, et al.: Using the bedside wellness system during chemotherapy decreases fatigue and emesis in cancer patients. J Med Syst 24 (3): 173-82, 2000.
  42. Dale A, Cornwell S: The role of lavender oil in relieving perineal discomfort following childbirth: a blind randomized clinical trial. J Adv Nurs 19 (1): 89-96, 1994.
  43. Göbel H, Schmidt G, Soyka D: Effect of peppermint and eucalyptus oil preparations on neurophysiological and experimental algesimetric headache parameters. Cephalalgia 14 (3): 228-34; discussion 182, 1994.
  44. Marchand S, Arsenault P: Odors modulate pain perception: a gender-specific effect. Physiol Behav 76 (2): 251-6, 2002.
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  46. Barclay J, Vestey J, Lambert A, et al.: Reducing the symptoms of lymphoedema: is there a role for aromatherapy? Eur J Oncol Nurs 10 (2): 140-9, 2006.
  47. Kohara H, Miyauchi T, Suehiro Y, et al.: Combined modality treatment of aromatherapy, footsoak, and reflexology relieves fatigue in patients with cancer. J Palliat Med 7 (6): 791-6, 2004.
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  49. Wilkinson SM, Love SB, Westcombe AM, et al.: Effectiveness of aromatherapy massage in the management of anxiety and depression in patients with cancer: a multicenter randomized controlled trial. J Clin Oncol 25 (5): 532-9, 2007.
  50. Styles JL: The use of aromatherapy in hospitalized children with HIV disease. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery 3 (1): 16-20, 1997.
  51. Rimmer L: The clinical use of aromatherapy in the reduction of stress. Home Healthc Nurse 16 (2): 123-6, 1998.
  52. Stringer J: Massage and aromatherapy on a leukaemia unit. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery 6 (2): 72-6, 2000.
  53. Warnke PH, Sherry E, Russo PA, et al.: Antibacterial essential oils in malodorous cancer patients: clinical observations in 30 patients. Phytomedicine 13 (7): 463-7, 2006.
  54. Hicks G: Aromatherapy as an adjunct to care in a mental health day hospital. J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs 5 (4): 317, 1998.

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: May 28, 2015
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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