Inhalation aromatherapy during radiotherapy: results of a placebo-controlled double-blind randomized trial

J Clin Oncol. 2003 Jun 15;21(12):2372-6. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2003.10.126.


Purpose: To determine whether the inhalation of aromatherapy during radiotherapy reduces anxiety.

Patients and methods: Three hundred thirteen patients undergoing radiotherapy were randomly assigned to receive either carrier oil with fractionated oils, carrier oil only, or pure essential oils of lavender, bergamot, and cedarwood administered by inhalation concurrently with radiation treatment. Patients underwent assessment by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and the Somatic and Psychological Health Report (SPHERE) at baseline and at treatment completion.

Results: There were no significant differences in HADS depression or SPHERE scores between the randomly assigned groups. However, HADS anxiety scores were significantly lower at treatment completion in the carrier oil only group compared with either of the fragrant arms (P =.04).

Conclusion: Aromatherapy, as administered in this study, is not beneficial.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / prevention & control
  • Aromatherapy*
  • Depression / etiology
  • Depression / prevention & control
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lavandula
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Placebos
  • Plant Oils
  • Radiotherapy / psychology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Placebos
  • Plant Oils
  • bergamot oil
  • cedarwood oil
  • lavender oil