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Aromatherapy for Cancer Symptoms

Cancer is one of the most prevalent health issues throughout the world.1 In 2021, there were 1,898,160 new cases of cancer and 608,570 deaths in the United States alone. Numerous physical and psychological complications for those with cancer exist, including nausea and vomiting, sleep and mental health issues, pain, and fatigue.

Researchers conducted a retrospective analysis of available data on the effectiveness of using lemon (Citrus × limon, Rutaceae) essential oil pads as adjuvant therapy to alleviate nausea and vomiting in patients with advanced cancer at the University Hospital Krems (Krems, Austria), where aromatic oils are often used for palliative care.2 Seventy-three percent of applications showed feasibility for use in nausea and vomiting. "In our retrospective study, we found that the application of lemon oil pads was effective in reducing nausea and vomiting in patients with advanced cancers in a palliative care setting," the authors conclude.

Lavender (Lavandula spp., Lamiaceae) essential oil is another essential oil given for symptoms related to cancer. According to the authors of a systematic review of lavender essential oil use in cancer complications, spike lavender (L. latifolia), English lavender (L. angustifolia), and the hybrid lavandin (L. × intermedia) are the most common of the lavender essential oils applied to complications due to cancer. Lavender essential oil possesses antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, carminative, cytotoxic, antianxiety, antidepressant, and sedative properties. Thirteen articles (9 RCTs, 3 quasi experimental, 1 prospective feasibility study) were included in the systematic review. The authors found that lavender essential oil can help mitigate complications that patients with cancer experience including sleep quality, pain, and anxiety.

Lori Glenn
HerbClip™ Managing Editor


1Mardani A, Maleki M, Hanifi N, Borghei Y, Vaismoradi M. A systematic review of the effect of lavender on cancer complications. Complement Ther Med. August 2022;67:102836. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2022.102836.

2Kreye G, Wasl M, Dietz A, et al. Aromatherapy in palliative care: A single-institute retrospective analysis evaluating the effect of lemon oil pads against nausea and vomiting in advanced cancer patients. Cancers (Basel). April 24, 2022;14(9):2131. doi: 10.3390/cancers14092131.