Alopecia Areata (patchy, inflammatory hair loss)
Hay IC, Jamieson M, Ormerod AD. Randomized trial of aromatherapy. Successful treatment for alopecia areata. Archives of Dermatology. 134(11): 1349-52, Nov. 1998.
A randomized, double blind, controlled trial was conducted in an outpatient dermatology department over 7 months with follow-up at 3 and 7 months. Eighty-six patients were randomized to two groups: the aromatherapy group massaged essential oils (thyme, rosemary, lavender and cedarwood) in a mixture of carrier oils daily into their scalp while the control group used only carrier oils for their daily massage. Nineteen of 43 patients in the active group (44%) showed improvement compared with 6 of 41 patients in the control group (15%). Results showed treatment with aromatherapy massage was significantly more effective than the control condition and is considered to be a safe and effective treatment for alopecia areata.
Singh G, Kapoor IP, Pandey SK, et al. Studies on essential oils: part 10; antibacterial activity of volatile oils of some spices. Phytotherapy Research. 16(7):680-2, 2002.
Essential oils were extracted from the seeds of seven spices, Anethum graveolens, Carum capticum, Coriandrum sativum, Cuminum cyminum, Foeniculum vulgare, Pimpinella anisum and Seseli indicum. They were studied for antibacterial activity against eight pathogenic bacteria that cause infections in the human body. It was found that the oils of Carum capticum, Cuminum cyminum and Anesthum graveolens were very effective against all tested bacteria. These oils were found to be equally or more effective when compared with standard antibiotics, at a very low concentration.
Burns E, Blamey C. Using Aromatherapy in Childbirth. Nursing Times. 90(9): 54-60, Mar. 2-8, 1994.
In this 6-month pilot study, 534 women were treated with a variety of essential oils (10 in all) for anxiety, pain relief, mood, nausea and vomiting, and to increase contractions. Both the midwives and the women assessed the effectiveness of each oil use following the birth and before transference to the delivery suite. Three hundred and sixty-six women (62%) described the essential oils they used as effective. Sixty-seven (12%) described their use as not effective. Sixteen women (3%) described transient unwanted effects. Results indicate a high degree of overall satisfaction with aromatherapy during labor and delivery by both women and midwives which the researchers felt supported further evaluation through a randomized controlled trial.
Gobel H, Schmidt G, Soyka D. Effect of peppermint and eucalyptus oil preparations on neurophysiological and experimental algesimetric headache parameters. Cephalgia. 14(3): 228-34, June 1994.
This double blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial on 32 healthy subjects tested four different test preparations applied to large areas of the forehead and temples. Their effect was evaluated comparing baseline and treatment measures. A significant decrease in pain sensitivity was produced by a combination of peppermint oil and ethanol. The combination of peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil and ethanol increased cognitive performance and had a muscle-relaxing and mentally relaxing effect but had a small influence on pain sensitivity.
Mood and Anxiety
Dunn C, Sleep J, Collett D. Sensing an improvement: an experimental study to evaluate the use of aromatherapy, massage and periods of rest in an intensive care unit. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 21(1): 34-40, Jan. 1995.
One hundred and twenty two patients in an intensive care unit were randomly assigned to receive either massage, aromatherapy using essential oil of lavender or a period of rest. Using both physiological stress indicators and patient evaluations, patients who received aromatherapy reported significantly greater improvement in mood and anxiety levels. There were no statistically significant differences in physiological stress indicators or patients ability to cope.
Mood and Alertness
Diego MA, et al. Aromatherapy positively affects mood, EEG patterns of alertness and math computations. International Journal of Neuroscience. 96(3-4): 217-24, Dec. 1998.
In this randomized controlled trial 40 adults received three minutes of aromatherapy using lavender or rosemary and were given simple math computations before and after therapy. The lavender group showed increased beta power, suggesting increased drowsiness, on EEG (a test recording electric current from nerve cells in the brain), reported feeling more relaxed, showed less depressive mood, and performed the math computations faster and more accurately after aromatherapy. The rosemary group showed decreased frontal alpha and beta power on EEG, suggesting increased alertness. They had lower state anxiety scores, reported feeling more alert and relaxed, and were faster but not more accurate at completing the math computations after the aromatherapy session.
Post-Operative Cardiac Surgery
Stevensen CJ. The psychophysiological effects of aromatherapy massage following cardiac surgery. Complementary Therapies in Medicine.2(1): 27-35, 1994.
This randomized controlled trial of 100 post-cardiac surgery patients studied four groups on the first post-operative day: a control group receiving no intervention; a control group receiving a general 20 minute conversation with a nurse; a massage group receiving a 20 minute plain vegetable oil foot massage; an aromatherapy massage group receiving a foot massage with neroli (orange blossom) oil. Each subject was assessed physiologically (heart rate, blood pressure, arterial blood pressure and respiratory rate) and psychologically (pain, anxiety, tension, calm, rest and relaxation) immediately before and after the 20 minute period, and one hour, two hours, and five days later. Statistically significant differences were seen in the respiratory rates immediately before and after both massage conditions as compared to the control groups but were not sustained. Psychological results on day 1 were significantly more positive for the two massage groups as compared with the two control groups. No significant benefit from the aromatherapy massage as compared with plain oil massage was seen on day 1 but marked differences were reported on the day 5 questionnaire in anxiety and tension reduction and increased calm, relaxation and rest.
Buckle, J. Aromatherapy: Does it matter which lavender essential oil is used? Nursing Times.89(20): 32-35, 1993.
In order to answer the question of whether the effect of topical aromatherapy is due to touch, massage or placebo, a randomized, double blind trial of two different species of lavender were applied through massage of the feet, legs, hands, arms and forehead to 28 post-cardiotomy patients on the second and third post-operative days. All patients were wearing oxygen masks to avoid inhalation of the essential oils. The emotional and behavioral stress levels were measured before and after treatment. One lavender essential oil was almost twice as effective in alleviating anxiety as the other lavender oil. Mood and coping abilities were similar. This trial showed that different lavender oils produced different effects, that aromatherapy has measurable therapeutic effects, and that these effects are not simply due to massage, touch or placebo.
Kite SM, et al. Development of an aromatherapy service at a cancer centre. Palliative Medicine. 12(3): 171-80, May 1998.
Fifty-eight patients completed six session of aromatherapy and were evaluated using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). There were significant improvements in HADS scores in all patients completing the course of therapy (anxiety dropped from 8.9 to 6.2, depression dropped from 6.1 to 4.0, and combined scores dropped from 15.0 to 10.2). Fifty percent or more reported a significant improvement in the eight most commonly assessed symptoms. Results indicate that aromatherapy massage has a role to play in reducing psychological distress and improving symptom control in cancer patients.
Wilkinson S, Aldridge J, Salmon I, Cain E, Wilson B. An evaluation of aromatherapy massage in palliative care. Palliative Medicine. 13(5):409-17, Sept. 1999.
This clinical study evaluated the effects of massage and aromatherapy massage on 103 cancer patients in a palliative care setting. Patient were randomly assigned to receive either massage using a neutral carrier oil or massage using a carrier oil plus the Roman chamomile essential oil. Three outcome measurements were used. Massage alone or with essential oils produced a statistically significant reduction in anxiety. The addition of an essential oil enhanced the effect of massage and improved physical and psychological symptoms and overall quality of life.
Tate S. Peppermint oil: treatment for postoperative nausea. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 26(3): 543-9, Sept. 1997.
Eighteen women undergoing gynecological surgery were assigned to one of three groups: a control group receiving no treatment, a placebo group receiving peppermint essence, and the experimental group receiving peppermint oil. The reported nausea rate for the control and placebo group was 100% while for the placebo group it was 66%, a statistically significant result. On the day of surgery the experimental group reported the least nausea, with two patients reporting no nausea at all. Overall the experimental group reported less nausea that the control or placebo group.