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Aromatherapy and Essential Oils (PDQ®)

  • Last Modified: 10/16/2012

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Changes to This Summary (10/16/2012)

The PDQ cancer information summaries are reviewed regularly and updated as new information becomes available. This section describes the latest changes made to this summary as of the date above.

Overview

Revised text to state that the effects of aromatherapy are theorized to result from the binding of chemical components in the essential oil to receptors in the olfactory bulb, impacting the brain's emotional center, the limbic system.

Revised text to state that aromatherapy products are not subject to approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration unless there is a claim for treatment of specific diseases.

General Information

Revised text to state that there are now specific courses for licensed health professionals that give nursing or continuing medical education contact hours, including a small research component and information on evaluating/measuring outcomes.

History

Added Hines et al. as reference 40.

Revised text to state that the neurobiological view, which focuses mostly on the emotion 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.

Human/Clinical Studies

Revised text to state that 46 patients were randomly assigned to conventional day care alone or day care plus weekly aromatherapy massage using a standardized blend of oils (1% lavender and chamomile in sweet almond carrier oil) for 4 weeks.

Added Ndao et al. as reference 6.

Revised text to state that 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 MRSA in vitro.

This summary is written and maintained by the PDQ Cancer Complementary and Alternative Medicine Editorial Board, which is editorially independent of NCI. The summary reflects an independent review of the literature and does not represent a policy statement of NCI or NIH. More information about summary policies and the role of the PDQ Editorial Boards in maintaining the PDQ summaries can be found on the About This PDQ Summary and PDQ NCI's Comprehensive Cancer Database pages.