Efficacy of Essential Oils in Relieving Cancer Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Apr 11;24(8):7085. doi: 10.3390/ijms24087085.


Over 80% of patients affected by cancer develops cancer-related pain, one of the most feared consequences because of its intractable nature, particularly in the terminal stage of the disease. Recent evidence-based recommendations on integrative medicine for the management of cancer pain underline the role of natural products. The present systematic review and meta-analysis aims at appraising for the first time the efficacy of aromatherapy in cancer pain in clinical studies with different design according to the most updated Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) 2020 recommendations. The search retrieves 1002 total records. Twelve studies are included and six are eligible for meta-analysis. The present study demonstrates significant efficacy of the use of essential oils in the reduction of the intensity of pain associated with cancer (p < 0.00001), highlighting the need for earlier, more homogeneous, and appropriately designed clinical trials. Good certainty body of evidence is needed for effective and safe management of cancer-related pain using essential oils by establishment of a step-by-step preclinical-to-clinical pathway to provide a rational basis for clinical use in integrative oncology. PROSPERO registration: CRD42023393182.

Keywords: aromatherapy; cancer pain; essential oils; integrative medicine; oncologic pain; tumor pain.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aromatherapy*
  • Cancer Pain* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / complications
  • Oils, Volatile* / therapeutic use
  • Pain / complications
  • Pain / etiology


  • Oils, Volatile