To assist readers in evaluating the results of human studies of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments for people with cancer, the strength of the evidence (i.e., the levels of evidence) associated with each type of treatment is provided whenever possible. To qualify for a level of evidence analysis, a study must:
Separate levels of evidence scores are assigned to qualifying human studies on the basis of statistical strength of the study design and scientific strength of the treatment outcomes (i.e., endpoints) measured. The resulting two scores are then combined to produce an overall score. A table showing the levels of evidence scores for qualifying human studies cited in this summary is presented below. For an explanation of the scores and additional information about levels of evidence analysis of CAM treatments for people with cancer, refer to Levels of Evidence for Human Studies of Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Use of Aromatherapy as a Supportive Care Agent in Cancer and Palliative Care: Table of Clinical Studies
No. = number; QOL = quality of life.
a Patients with cancer.
b Patients with breast cancer undergoing bone marrow transplantation.
c Patients with malignantbrain tumors.
d Lavender (43%), rosewood (29%), rose (7%), and valerian (4%).
|Reference Citations||Type of Study/Essential Oil/Mode of Administration||No. of Patients Enrolled; Treated; Control||Condition Investigated||Primary Outcome||Secondary Outcome||Level of Evidence Score|
|||Randomizednonblinded triala /lavender (Lavandula angustifolia Miller [synonyms: Lavandula spicata L.; Lavandula vera DC.]) and chamomile blend/massage||46; 11; 18||Mood, QOL, physical symptoms||No effect on mood, QOL, or physical symptoms||None||1ii|
|||Randomized nonblinded triala /lavender/ massage||42; 29; 13||Pain||No effect on pain||Improved sleep in both groups; reduced depression (in massage group); no effect on QOL||1ii|
|||Double-blind randomized control triala /lavender, bergamot (Citrus aurantium L. ssp. bergamia [Risso] Wright & Arn. [Rutaceae]; [synonym: Citrus bergamia Risso]), and cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica [Endl.] Manetti ex Carriere [Pinaceae])/indirect application||313||Anxiety||No effect on anxiety||No effect on depression or fatigue||1i|
|||Randomized placebo-controlled double-blind trial/bergamot/ inhalation||37; 17; 20||Anxiety, nausea, pain in children undergoing stem cell transplant||Increased anxiety and nausea in children 1 hour after stem cell infusion in aromatherapy group; no effect on pain||Parental anxiety declined in both groups||1iC|
|||Randomized controlled single-blind trial/sweet orange/inhalation||60; 23; 19; 18 (aromatherapy; orange tasting/sniffing; control)||Symptom intensity (nausea, retching, cough)||Greatest reduction in symptom intensity with orange tasting/sniffing||None||1C|
|||Randomized single-blind trial/choice of 20 essential oils/massage||39; 20; 19||Feasibility; mood||Improvements in mood in both groups (aromatherapy massage and cognitive behavioral therapy)||Preference for aromatherapy over cognitive behavior therapy||1C|
|||Randomized single-blind trial/choice of bitter orange, black pepper, rosemary, majoram, and patchouli/massage||45; 15; 15; 15 (aromatherapy massage; plain massage; control)||Constipation; QOL||Improvement with aromatherapy massage||Improved QOL||1C|
|||Nonrandomized controlled clinical trialb /lavender, eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus Labill. and Eucalyptus radiata Sieber ex DC. [Myrtaceae]), and tea tree/topical application||16; 6; 10||Infection||No effect on incidence of infection||None||2|
|||Nonrandomized controlled clinical trialb /geranium (Pelargonium species), German chamomile (Matricaria recutita L. [synonyms: Matricaria chamomilla L., Chamomilla recutita (L.) Rausch.]), patchouli (Pogostemon cablin [Blanco] Benth. [Lamiaceae] [synonyms: Mentha cablin Blanco, Pogostemon patchouly Letettier]), and turmericphytol/oral application||48; 24; 24||Gastrointestinal symptoms||No effect on gastrointestinal symptoms||None||2|
|||Consecutive case seriesc /lavender or chamomile/massage||18; 8||Anxiety, depression||No reduction in anxiety or depression||Reduction in blood pressure, pulse, and respiration ||3ii|
|||Randomized nonblinded triala /chamomile/massage||103; 43; 44||Physical and psychological symptoms, QOL||Reduction in anxiety and in physical and psychological symptoms; improved QOL||None||1ii|
|||Randomized nonblinded triala /chamomile/massage||52; 26; 25||QOL, physical symptoms, anxiety||Improved QOL, fewer physical symptoms, reduced anxiety||None||1ii|
|||Randomized nonblinded triala /aromatherapy blendd /massage||52; 34; 18||Anxiety, mobility||Decreased anxiety, pain; improved mobility ||None||1ii|
|||Consecutive casea /various oils/massage||69||General symptoms||General improvement in symptoms reported by patients; no statistical analysis completed ||None||3ii|