A review on the effects of aromatherapy for patients with depressive symptoms

J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Feb;15(2):187-95. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0333.


Purpose: We reviewed studies from 2000 to 2008 on using essential oils for patients with depression or depressive symptoms and examined their clinical effects.

Methods: The review was conducted among five electronic databases to identify all peer-reviewed journal papers that tested the effects of aromatherapy in the form of therapeutic massage for patients with depressive symptoms.

Results: The results were based on six studies examining the effects of aromatherapy on depressive symptoms in patients with depression and cancer. Some studies showed positive effects of this intervention among these three groups of patients.

Conclusions: We recommend that aromatherapy could continue to be used as a complementary and alternative therapy for patients with depression and secondary depressive symptoms arising from various types of chronic medical conditions. More controlled studies with sound methodology should be conducted in the future to ascertain its clinical effects and the underlying psychobiologic mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aromatherapy*
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts