Aromatherapy Research

Medical Conditions A-Z


Braden, R., Reichow, S., & Halm, M.A. (2009).The use of the essential oil lavandin to reduce preoperative anxiety in surgical patients. Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing, 24, 348-355.

METHODS: Surgical patients were randomly assigned to either control (standard care), experimental (standard care plus essential oil lavandin), or sham (standard care plus jojoba oil) groups. RESULTS: The lavandin group had lower anxiety.

Burnett, K.M., Solterbeck, L.A., & Strapp, C.M. (2004). Scent and mood state following an anxiety-provoking task. Psychological Reports, 95, 707-722.

METHODS: The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of water, lavender, or rosemary scent on physiology and mood state following an anxiety-provoking task. Measures of external temperature and heart rate were taken prior to introduction of an anxiety-eliciting task and exposure to lavender, rosemary, or water scents. Following the task, participants completed the Profile of Mood States to assess mood, and temperature and heart rate were reassessed. Participants rated the pleasantness of the scent received. RESULTS: Participants in the rosemary condition scored higher on measures of tension-anxiety and confusion-bewilderment relative to the lavender and control conditions. The lavender and control conditions showed higher mean vigor-activity ratings relative to the rosemary group, while both rosemary and lavender scents were associated with lower mean ratings on the fatigue-inertia subscale, relative to the control group.

Kritsidima, M., Newton T., & Asimakopoulou, K. (2010). The effects of lavender scent on dental patient anxiety levels: a cluster randomized-controlled trial. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemeiology, 38, 83-87.

METHODS: Patients waited for a dental appointment either under the odor of lavender or with no odor. RESULTS: The lavender group reported lower current anxiety.

Nord, D., & Belew, J. (2009). Effectiveness of the essential oils lavender and ginger in promoting children’s comfort in a perianesthesia setting.Journal of Perianethesia Nursing, 24, 307-312.

METHODS: Children with and without developmental disabilities received an aromatherapy intervention of lavender and ginger or a placebo of jojoba oil. RESULTS: The distress level was lower for the children in the essential oil groups.

Rho, K., Han, S., Kim, K. & Lee, M. (2006). Effects of aromatherapy massage on anxiety and self-esteem in korean elderly women: A pilot study. International Journal of Neuroscience, 116, 1447-1455.

METHODS: This study investigated the effects of aromatherapy massage on the anxiety and self-esteem experienced by Korean elderly women. A quasi-experimental, control group, pretest-posttest design was used. The subjects comprised 36 elderly females: 16 in the experimental group and 20 in the control group. Aromatherapy massage using lavender, chamomile, rosemary, and lemon was given to the experimental group only. Each massage session lasted 20 min, and was performed 3 times per week for two 3-week periods with an intervening 1-week break. RESULTS: The intervention produced significantly lower anxiety and higher self-esteem.

Cooke, M., Holhauser, K., Jones, M., Davis, C., Finucane, J. (2007). The effects of aromatherapy massage with music on the stress and anxiety levels of emergency nurses: Comparison between summer and winter. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 16, 1695-1703.

METHODS: Staff occupational stress was assessed pre- and post- 12 weeks of aromatherapy massage with music and anxiety was measured pre and post each massage session. RESULTS: Aromatherapy massage with music significantly reduced anxiety.


Kim, M.J., Nam, E.S., & Paik, S.I. (2005). The effects of aromatherapy on pain, depression, and life satisfaction of arthritis patients. Taehan Kanho Hakhow Chi, 35, 186-194.

METHODS: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of aromatherapy on pain, depression, and feelings of satisfaction in life of arthritis patients. The essential oils used were lavender, marjoram, eucalyptus, rosemary, and peppermint. RESULTS: Aromatherapy significantly decreased both the pain and depression scores.

Blood Pressure

Hwang J.H. (2006), The effects of the inhalation method using essential oils on blood pressure and stress responses of clients with essential hypertension. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi, 36, 1123-1134.

METHODS: A blend of lavender, ylangylang, and bergamot was inhaled once daily for 4 weeks. RESULTS: Blood pressure, pulse, stress, anxiety and cortisol levels were lower with the essential oil blend.

Hongratanaworakit, T. (2010). Stimulating effect of aromatherapy massage with jasmine oil. Natural Product Communications, 5, 157-162.

METHODS: Jasmine oil was applied topically to the abdomen. RESULTS: Compared with Placebo, jasmine oil led to increased breathing rate, blood oxygen saturation, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The Jasmine oil group rated themselves as more alert, more vigorous and less relaxed.

Hur, MH., Oh, H., Lee, M.S., Kim, C., Choi, A.N., Shin, G.R. (2007). Effects of aromatherapy massage on blood pressure and lipid profile in Korean climacteric women. The International journal of neuroscience, 177, 1281-1287.

METHODS: Aromatherapy massage using lavender, rose geranium, rose, and jasmine was given to the experimental group only. Each massage session lasted 30 minutes, and was performed once weekly for two 8-week periods with self abdominal daily massage at home. RESULTS: The intervention produced significant differences in the systolic blood pressure compared to pretreatment and significant differences in systolic and diastolic blood pressures at post treatment between the two groups.


Fitzgerald, M., Culbert, T., Finkelstein, M., Green, M., Johnson, A., Chen, S. (2007).The effect of gender and ethnicity on children’s attitudes and preferences for essential oils: A pilot study. Explore (NY), 3, 378-385.

METHODS: Aromatherapy is frequently recommended for children but children’s preferences for specific essential oils are not well documented. Healthy school-age children of Latino and non-Latino Caucasian ethnicity. Children evaluated each scent’s effect on mood and energy, stated their preferences, indicated in scents evoked particular thoughts and selected a favorite essential oil. RESULTS: Females were more likely to feel happy when smelling sweet orange. Female Latinos were more likely than NLC females to find sweet orange calming. Male Latinos were more likely to describe peppermint as “energetic” than male NLC. Children chose an essential oil that they rated as “making them feel happy” and/or as “liking the most”. Ginger and lavender were the least preferred.


Moss, M., Cook, J., Wesnes, K. & Duckett, P. (2003). Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognition and mood in healthy adults. International Journal of Neuroscience, 113, 15-38.

METHODS: Participants were randomly assigned to one of three independent groups, and performed the Cognitive Drug Research (CDR) computerized cognitive assessment battery in a cubicle containing either one of the two odors or no odor (control). RESULTS: Lavender produced a decrement in performance of working memory, and impaired reaction times for both memory and attention based tasks compared to controls. In contrast, rosemary produced enhancement of performance for overall quality of memory and secondary memory factors, but also produced an impairment of speed of memory compared to controls. Following the completion of the cognitive assessment battery, both the control and lavender groups were significantly less alert than the rosemary groups. However, the control group was significantly less content than both rosemary and lavender groups.


Wilkinson, S., Love, S., Westcombe, A., Gambles, M., Burgess, C., Cargill, A., Young, T., Maher, E. & Ramirez, A. (2007). Effectiveness of aromatherapy massage in the management of anxiety and depression in patients with cancer: A multicenter randomized controlled trial. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 25, 532-539.

METHODS: Two hundred eighty-eight cancer patients referred to complementary therapy services with clinical anxiety and/or depression, were allocated randomly to a course of aromatherapy massage or usual supportive care alone. RESULTS: Patients who received aromatherapy massage had lower anxiety and depression compared with those receiving usual care 6 weeks postrandomization. Patients receiving aromatherapy massage also described greater improvement in anxiety at both 6 and 10 weeks postrandomization.

Chang, S.Y. (2008). Effects of aroma hand massage on pain, state anxiety and depression in hospice patients with terminal cancer. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi, 38, 493-502.

METHODS: Hospice patients with terminal cancer were assigned to aroma hand massage or general oil hand massage groups. The aroma group received massage on each hand for 5 min for 7 days with a blended oil-a mixture of Bergamot, Lavender, and Frankincense which was diluted with sweet almond carrier oil and control group a general oil hand massage by only sweet almond carrier oil. RESULTS: The aroma group showed greater decreases in pain and depression.

Imanishi, J., Kuriyama, H., Shigemori, I., Watanabe, S., Aihara, Y., Kita, M., Sawai, K., Nakajima, H., Yoshida, N., Kunisawa, M., Kawase, M., Fukui, K. (2009). Anxiolytic effect of aromatherapy massage in patients with breast cancer. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 6, 123-128.

METHODS: Breast cancer patients received a 30 min aromatherapy massage twice a week for 4 weeks. RESULTS: Anxiety was reduced in one 30 min aromatherapy massage and also reduced after 8 aromatherapy massage sessions.

Chronic Pain

Price, C. J., McBride, B., Hyerle, L., & Kivlahan, D.R. (2007). Mindfulness Awareness in Body-Orientated Therapy for Female Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Taking Prescription Analgesics for Chronic Pain: A Feasible Study. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 13, 32-40.

METHODS: “Mindful Awareness in Body-orientated Therapy” (MABT) was used. This is a mind-body approach that incorporates massage, mindfulness, and the emotional processing of psychotherapy. RESULTS: All study participants attended at least 7 of 8 sessions; all completed in-person posttreatment assessment. Written questioners about intervention experience suggest increased tools for pain relief/ relaxation, increased body/mind connection, and increased trust/safety. The response- to-process measures indicated the feasibility of implementing the manualized protocol and point to the need for longer sessions and a longer intervention period with this population.

College Students

Han, S.H., Hur, M.H., Buckle, J., Choi, J., Lee M.S. (2006). Effect of aromatherapy on symptoms of dysmenorrhea in college students: A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine, 12,535-541.

METHODS: Female college students who rated their menstrual cramps to be greater than 6 on a 10-point visual analogue scale. They were randomized into three groups: (1) an experimental group who received aromatherapy, (2) a placebo group, and (3) a control group. Aromatherapy was applied topically to the experimental group in the form of an abdominal massage using two drops of clary sage and one drop of rose in 5 cc of almond oil. The placebo group received the same treatment but with almond oil only. RESULTS: The menstrual cramps were significantly lowered in the aromatherapy group then in the other two groups at both post-test time points.

Coronary Flow

Shiina, Y., Funabashi, N., Lee, K., Toyoda, T., Sekine, T., Honjo, S., Hasegawa, R., Kawata, T., Wakatsuki, Y., Hayashi, S., Murakami, S., Koike, K., Daimon, M., & Komuro, I. (2008). Relaxation effects of lavender aromatherapy improve coronary flow velocity reserve in healthy men evaluated by transthoracic Doppler echocardiography. International Journal of Cardiology, 129, 193-197.

METHODS: We aimed to assess the effect of lavender aromatherapy on coronary circulation by measuring coronary flow velocity reserve (CFVR). RESULTS: Cortisol significantly decreased after lavender aromatherapy but remained unchanged in controls. In addition, CFVR significantly increased after lavender aromatherapy but not in controls. These findings suggest that lavender aromatherapy has relaxation effects and may have beneficial acute effects on coronary circulation.


Atsumi, T. & Tonosaki, K. (2007). Smelling lavender and rosemary increases free radical scavenging activity and decreases cortisol levels in saliva. Psychiatry Research, 150, 89-96.

METHODS: The total salivary FRSA induced after the smelling of lavender and rosemary essential oils was measured. RESULTS: The FRSA values were increased by stimulation with low concentrations (1000 times dilution) of lavender or by high-concentrations (10 times dilution) of rosemary. In contrast, both lavender and rosemary stimulations decreased cortisol levels.

Dental Pain

Lehrner, J., Marwinski, G., Lehr, S., Johren, P. & Deecke, L. (2005). Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduce anxiety and improve mood in a dental office. Physiology & Behavior, 86, 92-95.

METHODS: Patients between the ages of 18 and 77 years (half women, half men) were assigned to one of four independent groups. While waiting for dental procedures patients were either stimulated with ambient odor of orange or ambient odor of lavender. These conditions were compared to a music condition and a control condition (no odor, no music). Anxiety, mood, alertness and calmness were assessed while patients waited for dental treatment. RESULTS: Statistical analyses revealed that compared to control condition both ambient odors of orange and lavender reduced anxiety and improved mood in patients waiting for dental treatment. These findings support the previous opinion that odors are capable of altering emotional states and may indicate that the use of odors is helpful in reducing anxiety in dental patients.


Fernandez, M., Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., Sanders, C., Diego, M., & Roca, A. (2004). EEG during lavender and rosemary exposure in infants of depressed and non-depressed mothers. British Journal of Psychology, 27, 91-100.

METHODS: This study investigated whether exposure to pleasant odors would change electroencephalographic (EEG) activity in infants of depressed and non-depressed mothers. Twenty newborns were exposed to a 10% v/v concentration of rosemary oil or lavender oil and their EEG was recorded for 2-minutes each at baseline and during odor exposure. Group inclusion (depressed versus non-depressed) was based on mothers’ CES-D depression scores. RESULTS: Results revealed that the groups did not differ at baseline and that the two odors did not differentially affect the EEG. However, the infants of depressed mothers showed increased relative left frontal EEG activation while infants of non-depressed mothers showed increased relative right frontal EEG activation from baseline to the odor exposure phase. Relative left frontal EEG activation has been associated with an approaching pattern of behavior and response to positive stimuli, while relative right frontal EEG activation has been associated with a withdrawing pattern of behavior and response to negative stimuli. These results suggest that infants of depressed and non-depressed mothers respond differently to odors.

Imura, M., Ushijima, H., & Misao, H. (2004). Study on the preferences of postpartum mothers for sweet orange, lavender, and geranium as well as other postpartum factors. Japanese Journal of Aromatherapy, 6, 51-57.

METHODS: Subjects in this study were hospitalized on a maternity ward of the general hospital in Tokyo. The subjects were assigned to three groups and presented with the three kinds of aroma (sweet orange, lavender, geranium) in different order. After answering three questionnaires (i.e., the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and questionnaires on maternity blues and how mothers feel about their babies), the subjects in each group were asked to smell three kinds of aroma, comment on how the aroma made them feel, and indicate the order of their preferences for three kinds of aroma. RESULTS: 90% of the subjects answered that sweet orange made them feel comfortable, and none of them answered that the aroma made them feel uncomfortable. Sweet orange was selected as the first preference by 72% of the subjects. Using the EPDS results, the subjects were divided into two groups (normal and depressed) according to the EPDS clinical cutoff point of less than or equal to 9. There were no statistically significant differences between the preference for each kind of aroma and the following factors: scores obtained from the maternity blues questionnaire, scores obtained from the questionnaire on how mothers feel about their babies, and feeding pattern. However, the association between lavender and EPDS score, geranium and mode of delivery, and geranium and rooming in were statistically significant.

Imura, M., Ushijima, H., & Misao, H. (2005). A clinical trial on the effect of aroma-massage among normal postpartum mothers: Maternity blues, anxiety, moods, feeling toward baby, and salivary cortisol. Janpanese Journal of Aromatherapy, 5, 21-27

METHODS: The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of aroma-massage (full body massage under the diffusion of aroma) among normal postpartum mothers. A quasi-experimental between groups design was used. Mothers who received aroma-massage were compared to a control group who received standard care on the maternity ward. Forty first-time normal postpartum mothers who have full-term healthy infants participated in this study. Twenty mothers received a 30-minute aroma-massage session on the second postpartum day, and gave saliva and completed four standardized questionnaires before and after the intervention: 1) Maternity Blues Scale; 2) State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI); 3) Profile of Mood States (POMS); and 4) Feeling Toward Baby Scale. RESULTS: Findings showed that scores significantly decreased in the Maternity Blues Scale and each subscale of the POMS except the POMS-Vigor. Moreover, scores significantly increased in POMS-Vigor. The scores on Feelings toward Baby tended to increase more in the aroma-massage group. Salivary cortisol tended to decrease more in the aroma-massage group, but did not show significant decrease between two groups.


Han, S., Hur, M., Buckle, J., Choi, J. & Lee, M. (2006). Effects of aromatherapy on symptoms of dysmenorrhea in college students: a randomizaed placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 12, 535-541.

METHODS: Aromatherapy was applied topically in the form of an abdominal massage using two drops of lavender one drop of clary sage and one drop of rose in an almond oil carrier. The placebo group received the same treatment but with almond oil only and the control group received no treatment. RESULTS: Menstrual cramps were significantly lower in the aromatherapy group than in the other two groups at the first and second day of menstruation after treatment.


Badia, P., Wesensten, N., Lammers, W., Culpepper, J., Harsh, J. (1990). Responsiveness to olfactory stimuli presented in sleep. Physiology & Behavior, 48, 87-90.

METHODS: Responses of ten participants were recorded to repeated three-minute periods of either air alone or to a peppermint odor during stage 2 sleep. These responses included behavioral (awakening, microswitch closure), autonomic (heart rate, EMG, respiration), and central (EEG) components. RESULTS: Results indicate that humans react behaviorally, autonomically and centrally to olfactory stimuli presented while sleeping. Although the percentage of overall responsivity to olfactory stimuli was low, significant differences in responsivity to odor periods vs. nonodor periods were found for microswitch closures, EEG, EMG, and heart rate. For these measures eight or more of the ten participants showed this pattern of differential responsivity during odor and nonodor periods. A time-of-night effect was also observed in that responsivity tended to be greatest early in the night.

Lorig,T.S., Herman, K.B., Schwartz, G.E., Cain, W.S. (1990). EEG activity during administration of low-concentration odors. Bulletin-of-the-Psychonomic-Society, 28, 405-408.

METHODS: Sixteen adults were exposed to 4 concentrations of 2 odorants while EEG data were recorded. The concentrations used in the study were no odor, low (undetected in half the Ss), medium, and high. RESULTS: The distribution of EEG theta activity differed as a function of odor concentration. EEG beta activity differed as a function of odor and concentration for the Ss who were unable to detect the presence of the odors. These Ss also reported being significantly less happy during the administration of the undetected odors.

Diego, M., Jones, N.A., Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Schanberg, S., Kuhn, C., McAdam, V., Galamaga, R. & Galamaga, M. (1998). Aromatherapy positively affects mood, EEG patterns of alertness and math computations. International Journal of Neuroscience, 96, 217-224.

METHODS: EEG activity, alertness, mood and cortisol levels were assessed in 40 adults given 3 minutes of aromatherapy using two aromas, lavender (considered a relaxing odor) or rosemary (considered a stimulating odor). Participants were also given simple math computations before and after the therapy. RESULTS: The lavender group showed increased beta power suggesting increased drowsiness, they had less depressed mood (POMS) and reported feeling more relaxed and they performed the math computations faster and more accurately following aromatherapy. The rosemary group, on the other hand, showed decreased frontal alpha and beta power, suggesting increased alertness. They also had lower state anxiety scores, reported feeling more relaxed and alert and they were only faster, not more accurate, at completing the math computations after the aromatherapy session.

Masago, R., Matsuda, T., Kikuchi, Y., Miyazaki, Y., Iwanaga, K., Harada, H. & Katsuura, T. (2000). Effects of inhalation of essential oils on EEG activity and sensory evaluation. Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Science, 19, 35-42.

METHODS: The purpose of this study was to investigate EEG changes in subjects directly after inhalation of essential oils, and subsequently, to observe any effect on subjective evaluations. EEG and sensory evaluation were assessed in 13 healthy female subjects in four odor conditions. Four odor conditions (including lavender, chamomile, sandalwood and eugenol) were applied respectively for each subject in the experiment. RESULTS: The results were as follows. 1) Four basic factors were extracted from 22 adjective pairs by factor analysis of the sensory evaluation. The first factor was “comfortable feeling”, the second “cheerful feeling”, the third “natural feeling” and the fourth “feminine feeling”. In the score of the first factor (comfortable feeling), the odors in order of high contribution are lavender, eugenol, chamomile and sandalwood. 2) Alpha 1 of EEG at parietal and posterior temporal regions significantly decreased soon after the onset of inhalation of lavender oil. Significant changes of alpha 1 were also observed after inhalation of eugenol or chamomile. The change after inhalation of sandalwood was not significant. These results showed that alpha 1 activity significantly decreased under odor conditions in which subjects felt comfortable, and showed no significant change under odor conditions in which subjects felt uncomfortable. These results suggest a possible correlation between alpha 1 activity and subjective evaluation.

Sanders, C., Diego, M., Fernandez, M., Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M. & Roca A. EEG asymmetry responses to lavender and rosemary aromas in adults and infants. (2002). International Journal of Neuroscience, 112, 1305-1320.

METHODS: Frontal EEG asymmetry shifting from baseline was examined in adults and infants exposed to lavender and rosemary by reanalyzing previously published data, using techniques different from those utilized in the original two studies. RESULTS: Results from Study 1 on 39 adults revealed significant EEG shifting in the lavender group, with greater relative left frontal EEG activation (associated with greater approach behavior and less depressed affect). The participants in the two aroma groups were further grouped by those with greater baseline, left frontal EEG activation, versus those with greater baseline, right frontal activation. Collapsing across aroma groups, those with greater baseline, right frontal activation, shifted left during the aroma. Those with greater baseline left frontal activation did not change. In the rosemary group, those with greater baseline right frontal EEG activation shifted left during the aroma, while those with greater baselines left frontal EEG activation shifted right. In the lavender group, those with greater baselines right frontal baseline EEG activation shifted left, but those with greater baselines left did not shift. Study 2 on 27 full-term newborns revealed no significant shifts in asymmetry in either aroma group. However, when the aroma groups were collapsed, the right frontal EEG group exhibited significant shifting to left frontal EEG activation.

Field, T., Diego, M., Hernandez-Reif, M., Cisneros, W., Feijo, L., Vera, Y., Gil, K., Grina, D. & Claire He Q. (2005). Lavender fragrance cleansing gel effects on relaxation. International Journal of Neuroscience, 115, 207-222.

METHODS: Alertness, mood, and math computations were assessed in 11 healthy adults who sniffed a cosmetic cleansing gel with lavender floral blend aroma, developed to be relaxing using Mood, EEG patterns and heart rate were also recorded before, during, and after the aroma session. RESULTS: The lavender fragrance blend had a significant transient effect of improving mood, making people feel more relaxed, and performing the math computation faster. The self-report and EEG and heart rate data are consistent with relaxation profiles during other sensory stimuli such as massage and music, as reported in the literature.


Lee, S.Y. (2005). The effect of lavender aromatherapy on cognitive function, emotion, and aggressive behavior of elderly with dementia. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi, 35, 303-312.

METHODS: The Research design was a nonequivalent control group non-synchronized quasiexperimental study. Lavender aromatherapy was administrated to experimental group I for 2 weeks, jojoba oil massage was administrated to experimental group II for 2 weeks, and no treatment was administrated to the control group for 2 weeks. RESULTS: 1. Experimental group I did not show significant differences in cognitive function in relation to the experimental group II and control group. 2. Experimental group I showed significant differences in emotion and aggressive behavior in relation to the experimental group II and control group.

Hemodialysis Patients

Itai, T., Amayasu, H., Kuribayashi, M., Kawamura, N., Okada, M., Momose, A., Tateyama, T., Narumi, K., Uematsu, W., & Kaneko, S. (2000). Psychological effects of aromatherapy on chronic hemodialysis patients. Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, 54, 393-397.

METHODS: Effects of aromatherapy (odorless condition, lavender, and hiba oil) on mood and anxiety were investigated in patients who were being treated with chronic hemodialysis. A control period consisting of natural hospital smells was established before each test session, and then aromatic test conditions were systematically evaluated for odorless conditions as well as aromatic conditions containing lavender and hiba oil aromas. The effects of aromatherapy were measured using the Hamilton rating scale for depression (HAMD) and the Hamilton rating scale for anxiety (HAMA). RESULTS: Hiba oil aroma significantly decreased the mean scores of HAMD and HAMA, and lavender aroma significantly decreased the mean scores of HAMA. The mean scores of HAMD and HAMA in an odorless condition were not significantly different from those of the control conditions.


Lewith, G.T., Godfrey, A.D. & Prescott, P. (2005). A single-blinded, randomized pilot study evaluating the aroma of Lavandula augustifolia as a treatment for mild insomnia. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 11, 631-637.

METHODS: The aims of this study were to evaluate the efficacy of lavender on insomnia. The aroma was supplied via an Aromastream device assessed by a randomized, single-blind, cross-over design (baseline, two treatment periods, and a washout period, each of 1 week duration). RESULTS: Lavender created an improvement of -2.5 points in Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI).

Lee, I.S. & Lee, G.J. (2006). Effects of lavender aromatherapy on insomnia and depression in women college students. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi, 36, 136-143.

METHOD: College students who complained of insomnia were studied during a four-week protocol of varying concentrations of lavender fragrance. RESULT: Length of time taken to fall asleep, severity of insomnia, and self satisfaction with sleep were improved and depression was decreased following the higher concentration lavender oil treatment periods.

Low Back Pain

Chou, R., Huffman, L.H., American Pain Society, & American College of Physicians. (2007). Nonpharmacologic Therapies for Acute and Chronic Low Back Pain: A Review of the Evidence for an American Pain Society/ American College of Physicians Clinical Practice Guideline. Annals of Internal Medicine, 147, 492-504.

METHODS: Information was abstracted about study design, population characteristics, interventions, outcomes, and adverse events. To grade methodological quality, the Oxman criteria was used for systematic reviews and the Cochrane Back Review Group criteria was used for individual trials. RESULTS: Good evidence was found that cognitive- behavioral therapy, exercise, spinal manipulation, and interdisciplinary rehabilitation are all moderately effective for chronic or subacute low back pain. Fair evidence also found that acupuncture, massage, yoga (Viniyoga), and functional restoration are also effective for chronic low back pain.


Murakami , S., Shirota, T., Hayashi, S. & Ishizuka, B. (2005). Aromatherapy for outpatients with menopausal symptoms in obstetrics and gynecology. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 11, 491-494.

METHODS: in another aromatherapy study the effectiveness of aromatherapy for outpatients with menopausal symptoms. The patients’ physical and mental health status was measured at the start and endpoint of the trial by use of the Kupperman index (KI), the self-rating depression scale, and consultation. RESULTS: The KI score was significantly lowered after the aromatherapy trial.


Campenni, C.E., Crawley, E.J. & Meier, M.E. (2004). Role of suggestion in odor-induced mood change. Psychological Reports, 94, 1127-1136.

METHODS: The effects of ambient odor (lavender, neroli or placebo) and suggestions related to the effects of an odor (relaxing, stimulating or none) on mood were explored. RESULTS: physiological measures were influenced by suggestion in predictable directions. Relaxing odors yielded decreases in heart rate and skin conductance, with stimulating odors yielding the reverse effects under equivalent conditions.


Goubet, N., Strasbaugh, K., & Chesney, J. (2007). Familiarity breeds content? Soothing effect of a familiar odor on full-term newborns. Journal of Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics, 28, 189-194.

METHODS: Newborns were exposed to vanillin (via their mother or via their crib) or no odor prior to a heel stick. On the day of the heel stick, infants were either exposed to a familiar odor, an unfamiliar odor, or no odor before, during, and after the procedure. RESULTS: Infants exposed to a familiar odor displayed little distress and more oral movements during the procedure compared to the unfamiliar group.


Han, S. H., Yang, B. S., & Kim, H. J. (2003). Effectiveness of aromatherapy massage on abdominal obesity among middle aged women. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi, 33, 839-846.

METHODS: Aromatherapy massage and placebo massage were given for two weeks. Weight, abdominal circumference and appetite were compared. RESULTS: The apparent effectiveness of Aromatherapy Massage in reducing weight, abdominal circumference and appetite was noted.


Kim, J.T., Wajda, M., Cuff, G., Serota, D., Schlame, M., Axelrod, D.M., Guth, A.A., & Bekker, A.Y. (2006). Evaluation of aromatherapy in treating postoperative pain: pilot study. Pain Practice, 6, 273-277.

METHODS: Postoperative lavender oil aromatherapy was given to patients undergoing breast biopsy surgery. The cortisol group received supplemental oxygen through a face mask with no lavender oil. RESULTS: Patients in the lavender group reported a higher satisfaction rate with pain control.

Martin, G.N. (2006). The effect of exposure to odor on the perception of pain. Psychomotor Medicine, 68, 613-616.

METHOD: Healthy adults experienced experimentally induced pain (cold-pressor test) during exposure to an ambient pleasant odor (lemon), an ambient unpleasant odor (machine oil), or no odor. RESULTS: Individuals exposed to both odors reported significantly greater pain than those in the control condition at 5 minutes. At 15 minutes, individuals exposed to the unpleasant odor experienced greater pain.

Palliative Care

Wilkinson, S., Aldridge, J., Salmon, I., Cain, E. & Wilson, B. (1999). An evaluation of aromatherapy massage in palliative care. Palliative Medicine, 3, 409-417.

METHODS: This study assessed the effects of massage and aromatherapy massage on cancer patients in a palliative care setting. We studied 103 patients, who were randomly allocated to receive massage using a carrier oil (massage) or massage using a carrier oil plus the Roman chamomile essential oil (aromatherapy massage). Outcome measurements included the Rotterdam Symptom Checklist (RSCL), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and a semi-structured questionnaire, administered 2 weeks postmassage, to explore patients’ perceptions of massage. RESULTS: There was a statistically significant reduction in anxiety after each massage on the STAI, and improved scores on the RSCL: psychological, quality of life, severe physical, and severe psychological subscales for the combined aromatherapy and massage group. The aromatherapy group’s scores improved on all RSCL subscales at the 1% level of significance or better, except for severely restricted activities. The massage group’s scores improved on four RSCL subscales, but these improvements did not reach statistical significance. Massage with or without essential oils appears to reduce levels of anxiety. The addition of an essential oil seems to enhance the effect of massage and to improve physical and psychological symptoms, as well as overall quality of life.

Postoperative Pain

Kim, J.T., Wajda, M., Cuff, G., Serota, D., Schlame, M., Axelrod, D.M., Guth, A.A. & Bekker, A.Y. (2006). Evaluation of aromatherapy in treating postoperative pain: pilot study. Pain Practice, 6, 273-277

METHODS: In a study on postoperative pain, this study compared the analgesic efficacy of postoperative lavender oil aromatherapy was given to patients undergoing breast biopsy surgery. RESULTS: Patients in the lavender group reported a higher satisfaction rate with pain control than patients in the control group.

Kim, J.T., Ren, C.J., Fielding, G.A., Pitti, A., Kasumi, T., Wajda, M.m Lebovits, A., Beker, A. (2007). Treatment with lavender aromatherapy in the post-anesthesia care unit reduces opioid requirements of morbidly obese patients undergoing laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding. Obesity Surgery, 17, 920-925.

METHODS: Parenteral administration of opioids and NSAIDs has been the mainstay for postoperative pain control in patients undergoing laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding. Both classes of drugs, however, are associated with serious adverse effects. An addition of complimentary analgesic techniques may decrease requirement for traditional analgesics. Patients in the study group were treated with lavender oil, which was applied to the oxygen face mask; the control group patients received nonscented baby oil. RESULTS: Significantly more patients in the Placebo group (PL) required analgesics for postoperative pain (22/27, 82%) than patients in the Lavender group (LAV) (12/26, 46%). Moreover, the LAV patients required significantly less morphine postoperatively than PL patients.

Mitchinson, A.R., Kim, H.M., Rosenberg, J.M., Geisser, M., Kirsh, M., Cikrit, D., & Hinshaw, D.B. (2007). Acute Postoperative Pain Management Using Massage as an Adjunctive Therapy: A Randomized Trial. Archives of Surgery, 142, 1158-1167.

METHODS: Veterans undergoing major surgery were assigned to a control group (routine care), an individualized attention group by a massage therapist (20 minutes), or a back massage group by a massage therapist each evening for up to 5 postoperative days. RESULTS: Patients in the massage group experienced short-term (preintervention vs postintervention) decreases in pain intensity, pain unpleasantness, and anxiety.


Imura, M., Misao, H. & Ushijima, H. The psychological effects of aromatherapy-massage in healthy postpartum mothers. Journal of Midwifery & Womens Health, 51, 21-27.

METHODS: This study examined the effect of aromatherapy-massage in healthy postpartum mothers. A quasi-experimental between-groups design was used. Mothers who received aromatherapy-massage were compared with a control group who received standard postpartum care. Thirty-six healthy, first-time mothers with vaginal delivery of a full-term, healthy infant participated in this study. Sixteen mothers received a 30-minute aromatherapy-massage on the second postpartum day; 20 mothers were in the control group. All mothers completed the following four standardized questionnaires before and after the intervention: 1) Maternity Blues Scale; 2) State-Trait Anxiety Inventory; 3) Profile of Mood States (POMS); and 4) Feeling toward Baby Scale. RESULTS: In the aromatherapy-massage group, posttreatment scores significantly decreased for the Maternity Blues Scale, the State-Anxiety Inventory, and all but one of the Profile of Mood States subscales. Posttreatment scores in the intervention group significantly increased in Profile of Mood States-Vigor subscale and the Approach Feeling toward Baby subscale. Scores in the intervention group significantly decreased in Conflict Index of Avoidance/Approach Feeling toward Baby subscale. Our results suggest that aromatherapy-massage might be an effective intervention for postpartum mothers to improve physical and mental status and to facilitate mother-infant interaction.

Preterm Infants

Goubet, N., Rattaz, C., Pierrat, V., Bullinger, A., & Lequien, P. (2003). Olfactory experience mediates response to pain in preterm newborns. Developmental Psychobiology, 42, 171-180.

METHODS: This study assessed the effects of a familiar odor during routine blood draws in healthy preterm newborns. Infants were observed as they were undergoing either a capillary puncture on the heel (heelstick) or a venous puncture on the hand. During the procedure, one third of the infants were presented with an odor they had been familiarized with prior to the procedure, one third of the infants were presented with an odor, they had not been previously exposed to, and one third were presented with no odor. RESULTS: Heelsticks elicited more behavioral distress than venipunctures. Infants who were presented with a familiar odor during venipuncture showed no significant increase in crying and grimacing during the procedure compared to baseline levels. By comparison, infants presented with an unfamiliar odor or with no odor either during the heelstick or the venipuncture had a significant increase in crying and grimacing. When the pain was milder, i.e., during a venipuncture, and a familiar odor was presented, infants showed little to no crying.

Lahat, S., Mimouni, F.B., Ashbel, G., & Dollberg, S. (2007). Energy Expenditure in Growing Preterm Infants Receiving Massage Therapy. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 26, 356-359.

METHODS: Infants were randomized to 5 days of massage followed by 5 days of no massage or the opposite sequence. During the massage therapy period, massage was provided daily for three 15 minute periods at the beginning of each 3 hour period every morning. Metabolic measurements were performed by indirect calorimetry, using the Deltatrac II Metabolic cart. RESULTS: Energy expenditure was significantly lower in infants after the 5 day massage therapy period than after the period without.


Cooke, B. & Ernst, E. (2000). Aromatherapy: a systematic review. British Journal of General Practice, 50, 493-496.

REVIEW: Aromatherapy is becoming increasingly popular; however there are few clear indications for its use. To systematically review the literature on aromatherapy in order to discover whether any clinical indication may be recommended for its use, computerized literature searches were performed to retrieve all randomized controlled trials of aromatherapy from the following databases: MEDLINE, EMBASE, British Nursing Index, CISCOM, and AMED . The methodological quality of the trials was assessed using the Jadad score. All trials were evaluated independently by both authors and data were extracted in a pre-defined, standardized fashion. Twelve trials were located: six of them had no independent replication; six related to the relaxing effects of aromatherapy combined with massage. These studies suggest that aromatherapy massage has a mild, transient anxiolytic effect. Based on a critical assessment of the six studies relating to relaxation, the effects of aromatherapy are probably not strong enough for it to be considered for the treatment of anxiety. The hypothesis that it is effective for any other indication is not supported by the findings of rigorous clinical trials.


Hongratanaworakit, T., Buchbauer, G. (2006). Relaxing effect of ylang oil on humans after transdermal absorption. Phytotherapy research, 20, 758-763.

METHODS: The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of ylang ylang oil on human physiological parameters and self-evaluation after transdermal absorption. RESULTS: The ylang ylang oil caused a significant decrease of blood pressure and a significant increase of skin temperature. The ylang ylang oil group rated themselves calmer and more relaxed than subjects in the control group.

Sharpe, P.A., Williams, H.G., Granner, M.L., & Hussey, J.R. (2007). A Randomized Study of the Effects of Massage Therapy Compared to Guided Relaxation on Well-Being and Stress Perception Among Older Adults. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 15, 157-163.

METHODS: Participants received 50 minutes massage or guided relaxation sessions twice weekly for 4 weeks. The massage included Swedish, neuromuscular, and myofacial techniques. For the relaxation group, an appropriately trained assistant read a script to guide the participant in using visualization and muscle relaxation. RESULTS: Significant improvements were found for the anxiety, depression, vitality, general health, and positive well-being subscales of the General Well-being Schedule and for Perceived Stress among the massage participants compared to guided relaxation.

Hongratanaworakit, T.(2009). Relaxing effects of rose oil on humans. Natural Products Communication, 4, 291-296.

METHODS: In order to exclude any olfactory stimulation the inhalation of the fragrances was prevented by breathing masks. RESULTS: Rose oil caused significant decreases of breathing rate, blood oxygen saturation and systolic blood pressure, which indicate a decrease of autonomic arousal. Subjects in the rose oil group rated themselves as more calm, more relaxed and less alert than subjects in the control group.


Sayette, M.A. & Parrott, D.J. (1999). Effects of olfactory stimuli on urge reduction in smokers. Experimental & Clinical Psychopharmacology, 7, 151-159.

METHODS: This study examined the possibility that exposure to olfactory stimuli can reduce self-reported urge to smoke. After an initial assessment of self-reported urge, nicotine-deprived smokers evaluated the pleasantness of a series of 8 odors. Facial expressions during odor presentations were coded with P. Ekman and W. V. Friesen’s Facial Action Coding System. After odor administration, participants were exposed to smoking cues. Next, participants were administered their most pleasant, least pleasant, or a control odor (water) and reported their urge to smoke. RESULTS: Results indicated that sniffing either a pleasant or unpleasant odor reduced reported urge to smoke relative to the control odor. Reported pleasantness of the odors did not differentially affect urge reduction. Odors eliciting negative-affect-related expressions, however, were less effective than odors that did not elicit negative-affect-related expressions in reducing reported urge. Results of this preliminary investigation provide support for the consideration of odor stimuli as an approach to craving reduction.


Motomura, N., Sakurai, A. & Yotsuya, Y. (2001). Reduction of mental stress with lavender odorant. Percept Mot Skills, 93, 713-718.

METHODS: The effect of the lavender odorant on a Japanese version of Cox and Mackay’s stress/arousal adjective checklist for three groups was studied. One group of 14 was placed into a sound protected room for 20 min without the presentation of an odor, an analogous group of 15 received the odor oil, and one group of 13 received a nonstressful condition. RESULTS: Analysis suggested that lavender odorants were associated with reduced mental stress and decreased arousal.

Park, M.K. & Lee, E.S. (2004). The effect of aroma inhalation method on stress responses of nursing students. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi, 34, 344-351.

METHODS: This study was a quasi-experimental research using a non-equivalent pre-post design and was conducted from June 1 to June 5, 2002. The subjects consisted of 77 junior nursing students who were divided into 39 experimental group members and 38 control group members. A pretest and Post-test were conducted to measure body symptoms, the level of anxiety, and the level of perceived stress. In the experimental group, aromas were given using an aroma lamp, lavender, peppermint, rosemary and Clary-Sage. In the control group, the treatment was not administered. RESULT: As a result of administering aroma inhalation to nursing students, their physical symptoms decreased, their anxiety scores were low, and their perceived stress scores were low, showing that aroma inhalation could be a very effective stress management method.

Assume, T. & Tanoak, K. (2007). Smelling lavender and rosemary increases free radical scavenging activity and decreases cortisol level in saliva. Psychiatry Research, 150, 89-96.

METHODS: Healthy adults sniffed lavender or rosemary aroma for 5 min. RESULTS: Immune values were increased by low concentrations of lavender or by high-concentrations of rosemary. Both lavender and rosemary decreased cortisol levels.

Toda, M., & Morimoto, K. (2008). Effect of lavender aroma on salivary endocrinological stress markers. Archives of Oral Biology, 53, 964-968.

METHODS: Students were exposed to airborne organic essential oil of lavender after at 5 and 10min after an arithmetic task. RESULTS: Levels of CgA that had been elevated at the end of the arithmetic task suggesting increased stress were statistically significantly lower 10min later.

Hongratanaworakit, T. (2009). Relaxing effect of rose oil on humans. Natural product communications, 4, 291-296.

METHODS Rose oil versus carrier oil? was applied to the skin. RESULTS: Rose oil led to decreased breathing rate, blood oxygen saturation and systolic blood pressure, indicating decreased autonomic arousal. The rose oil group also rated themselves as more calm, more relaxed and less alert.

Seo, J.Y. (2009). The effects of aromatherapy on stress and stress responses in adolescents. Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing, 39, 357-365.

METHODS: High school students inhaled essential oil or carrier oil using a necklace. RESULTS: Stress levels were lower for the students receiving the aroma oil.


Shin, B.C., Lee, M.S. (2007). Effects of aromatherapy acupressure on hemiplegic shoulder pain and motor power in stroke patients: a pilot study. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine, 13, 247-251.

METHODS: Stroke patients with hemiplegic shoulder pain were randomly assigned to either an aromatherapy acupressure group or an acupressure group with aromatherapy acupressure using lavender, rosemary, and peppermint. Each acupressure session lasted 20 minutes and was performed twice-daily for 2 weeks. RESULTS: The pain scores were markedly reduced in both groups at post-treatment, compared to pretreatment. The motor power significantly improved at post-treatment, compared to pretreatment in both groups


Mori, M., Ikeda, N., Kato, Y., Minamino, M. & Watabe, K. (2002). Inhibition of elastase activity by essential oils in vitro. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 1, 183-187.

METHODS: Essential oils are widely used, for example in aromatherapy and aroma massage. In aroma massage, essential oil, diluted with vegetable oil, is rubbed onto the skin. Components of essential oil penetrate into the skin and have an influence on the dermis. Elastase is an enzyme which degenerates dermal elastin. Elastase activity is believed to contribute to cutaneous wrinkling and ageing. Inhibition of elastase activity by various essential oils was assessed. RESULTS: Elastase activity was inhibited by various essential oils, especially by those oils derived from lemons, juniper and grapefruit. Although the specific inhibitory component was not determined, lemon oil had the greatest inhibitory effect. These studies demonstrate a possible rationale for the use of essential oil massage as a preventive treatment for cutaneous wrinkling and ageing.

Research Abstracts Courtesy of Touch Research Institute.