Effects of topical essential oil on exercise volume after a 12-week exercise program for women with fibromyalgia: a pilot study

J Altern Complement Med. 2007 Dec;13(10):1099-106. doi: 10.1089/acm.2007.0551.


Objectives: We determined--in women with fibromyalgia (FM)--effects of essential oils used with a 12-week exercise program on exercise volume, pain, physical performance, and physical function.

Design: This was a randomized clinical trial comparing 024 essential oil with sham oil combined with exercise.

Settings: SETTINGS included community sites in southern California.

Subjects: The study included 20 women randomized to 024 oil, 23 to sham oil.

Interventions: Women were trained in oil application before exercise, at bedtime on exercise days; the 12-week program included weekly group sessions with trained leaders guided by a prerecorded regimen (allowing choice of program level) plus 2 days of home exercise with the recorded regimen.

Outcome measures: Primary: Exercise volume (number of days exercised multiplied by exercise level--intensity and duration). Secondary: Pain (Brief Pain Inventory), measures of physical performance (30-second chair stands, 6-minute walk, multidimensional balance), and self-reported physical function (Composite Physical Function scale).

Results: The average participant was 54 years old, had some college education, was married, Caucasian, and minimally/mildly depressed. There was no significant difference in exercise volume between women using 024 as compared with those using sham oil after 12 weeks (depression as covariate). There were no significant group nor pre- to postexercise changes in pain intensity or interference. There were greater positive changes in 30-second chair stands, 6-minute walk distance, and multidimensional balance scores in the 024 group than in the sham group, but these were not significant. The counterirritant 024 oil was not different from the sham oil in its effect on exercise volume (frequency, exercise level--intensity and duration) for women with FM. It is unknown whether 024 actually decreases local pain when used with exercise.

Conclusions: Increases in physical function found, while not significant, may be attributable to the exercise regimen or to the interaction of the oils and exercise regimen.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aromatherapy / methods*
  • California
  • Exercise*
  • Fibromyalgia / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Pilot Projects
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Oils, Volatile