The Use of Aromatherapy to Reduce Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea in Children With Cancer: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial

J Pediatr Oncol Nurs. 2018 Nov/Dec;35(6):392-398. doi: 10.1177/1043454218782133. Epub 2018 Jun 27.


Introduction: Chemotherapy-induced nausea can be distressing and difficult to manage in children with cancer. The purpose of this study was to investigate the utility of ginger aromatherapy in relieving chemotherapy-induced nausea in children with cancer.

Method: This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 49 children with cancer explored whether inhalation of the aroma of essential oil of ginger during chemotherapy decreased nausea compared with a placebo (water) or control (Johnson's baby shampoo) measured by prechemotherapy and postchemotherapy assessment with the Pediatric Nausea Assessment Tool (PeNAT).

Results: While well received, well tolerated, nontoxic, and noninvasive, ginger aromatherapy did not significantly decrease nausea in patients enrolled in this study. Among 21 patients who indicated feeling nausea prechemotherapy, 67% reported improvement, 5% worsening, and 28% no change in their postinfusion PeNAT score. We failed to detect a statistical significant difference in the change in PeNAT scores among the three groups.

Keywords: aromatherapy; chemotherapy; nausea; pediatrics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Aromatherapy / methods*
  • Child
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Ginger / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology / standards
  • Nausea / chemically induced*
  • Nausea / therapy*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Pediatrics / standards
  • Placebo Effect
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Oils, Volatile