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Cancer Health Center

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Aromatherapy and Essential Oils (PDQ®): Complementary and alternative medicine - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Human / Clinical Studies


A similar study evaluated the efficacy of an aromatherapy intervention for reduction of symptom intensity of nausea, retching, and/or coughing among adult patients receiving stem cells preserved in dimethyl sulfoxide. The study found that an intervention of tasting or sniffing sliced oranges was more effective at reducing symptom intensity than an orange essential oil inhalation aromatherapy.[7]

A study whose primary objective was evaluating an aromatherapy service following changes made after an initial pilot at a U.K. cancer center also reported on the experiences of patients referred to the service.[8] Of 89 patients originally referred, 58 completed six aromatherapy sessions. The authors reported significant improvements in anxiety and depression (as measured by HADS) at the completion of the six sessions, as compared with before the six sessions. A small study examined the physical and psychological effects of aromatherapy massage in eight patients with primary malignant brain tumors attending their first follow-up appointment after radiation therapy.[9] The author reported no psychological benefit in these patients from aromatherapy massage (as measured by HADS) but reported a statistically significant reduction in blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate.

Antibiotic -resistant bacteria, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and vancomycin -resistant enterococcus, are an increasing problem worldwide, causing intractable wound infections. Phytochemical mixtures, such as constituents of the volatile oils of lemongrass, eucalyptus, melaleuca, clove, and thyme with butylated hydroxytoluene, triclosan (0.3%), and 95% undenatured ethanol (69.7%), are being investigated against MRSAin vitro. No clinical trials have been performed.[10]

Two topical MRSA eradication regimens were compared in hospital patients. A standard treatment, which included mupirocin 2% nasal ointment, chlorhexidine gluconate 4% soap, and silver sulfadiazine 1% cream was given versus a tea tree oil regimen (melaleuca), which included tea tree 10% cream and tea tree 5% body wash. Both were administered for 5 days. One hundred fourteen patients received the standard treatment, and 56 (49%) were cleared of MRSA carriage. One hundred ten patients received the tea tree oil regimen, and 46 (41%) were cleared of MRSA carriage. In a small group of patients, the tea tree oil regimen was associated with a higher clearance rate of MRSA carriage in the axilla, groin, and wound sites, but the difference versus standard treatment was not significant.[11]

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