Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils or fragrant substances to improve any medical condition. Essential oils are distilled from plants. Some common essential oils used in aromatherapy are lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, chamomile, marjoram, jasmine, peppermint and lemon. Essential oils support and balance the mind, body, and spirit.

Aromatherapy is given through direct or indirect inhalation. In indirect inhalation aroma of essential oils is given by a room diffuser or placing it near the patient. Patient may take it through direct inhalation by using an inhaler. Patient may have massage of aromatherapy oils solely or mixing them with bath salts, lotions, or dressings.

Aromatherapy is used as a supportive treatment in cancer patients. It helps in reducing stress and anxiety. It is also used with other complementary treatments for cancer. Smells of essential oils reach brain and affect moods and emotions. They have antibacterial effects thus they can be used for massages. Some aroma oils show anti-fungal properties too.

There is no scientific evidence that supports aromatherapy for treatment of Cancer, but aromatherapy may be used to calm down the symptoms of the diseases or side effects of the conventional treatment.

Aromatherapy is used for therapeutic uses to improve physical and emotional health. In United States essential oils are used for inhalation and topical treatment. Diluted oils are used for topical treatment. The effects of aromatherapy are caused due to binding of chemical components in the essential oil to brain receptors thus affecting the brain’s emotional center.  Studies in animals show its sedative and stimulant effects and on the hand Human clinical trials have shown that it is effective in treating stress and anxiety in patients with critical illnesses. Aromatherapy exhibits low level of toxicity and is rather safe.

Uses of Aromatherapy

It improves condition of patients having nausea, lower pulse, respiratory rates or blood pressure. It shows improvement in mood, anxiety and constipation.

It can be used for massage before chemotherapy treatment, but should be avoided for nine to ten days after chemotherapy. It can be inhaled to check nausea occurring due to chemotherapy.

Radiation therapy causes excessive burning and skin problems, thus using essential oils for massage should be carefully undertaken. Lemon, Bergamot, Lime, Grapefruit, Orange or other citrus oils can be used with a person undergoing radiation therapy. 

Side Effects of Aromatherapy

Most of the ingredients used in this therapy are safe and have been approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration as ingredients in food. There are very few mild side effects of these oils, but use of large amounts of essential oils is not used as it may cause irritation in some patients. Some patients using Aromatherapy can have allergic reactions, skin irritation and sun sensitivity as a side effect of this therapy. Use of some essential oils such as lavender or tea tree oils may cause breast enlargement in boys or estrogen like effects.