Anxiolytic and antiemetic effects of aromatherapy in cancer patients on anticancer chemotherapy

Divya Santosh, Santhosh Joseph, Anil Jose, Swapna Satheendran, U. P. Ratnakar, Sahana P. Rao, Adarsha Benegal, Sanjana P. Rao, H. V. Shubha, Deepa Benegal, Vijayalakshmi, A. L. Udupa, Subir Gupta, Nkemcho Ojeh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Aromatherapy is a rapidly growing branch of complementary and alternative medicine. It involves the use of essential oils to attempt to cure, mitigate or to prevent certain symptoms of disease. The aim of this study was to assess the potential impact of aromatherapy in the treatment of anxiety and chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. Sixty cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy were recruited from the Kerala state of India. Patients were split into two groups (i) experimental group (n=30) receiving aromatherapy-based massage prior to and during the period of chemotherapy and (ii) the control group (n=30) not in receipt aromatherapy massage. Anxiety was assessed in both groups prior to and 24 hours post chemotherapy. The level of nausea and vomiting were assessed in patients over a 24 hour period following chemotherapy. A significant mean reduction in anxiety was observed in those receiving aromatherapy compared to controls (8.0±2 vs 3.2±1.4, p-value<0.001). In addition, nausea was found to be decreased significantly in the experimental group compared to controls (1.30±0.4 vs 1.73±0.6, p-value<0.01). A lower grade of vomiting was also observed in the group receiving aromatherapy compared to untreated controls (0.4±0.6 vs 0.9±0.8, p-value<0.01). Overall, this study demonstrates significant anxiolytic and antiemetic effects with aromatherapy massage when used as an adjuvant to standard antiemetics in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Our findings suggest that aromatherapy is of some value to medical professionals when attempting to ameliorate common side effects such as nausea, vomiting and anxiety associated with anticancer chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)736-744
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 01-12-2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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