Aromatherapy Effectiveness - Five Studies to Support this Holistic Healing Treatment

Here at The CMA, we are delighted to be able to bring you a series of scientifically-backed research projects on the effects of a variety of complementary and integrative medical therapies.

 Following on from the immense popularity of the research we highlighted on Wednesday 2nd February 2022, supporting smudging and the subsequent series on Wednesday 9th February 2022, highlighting the benefits of Reiki, we wanted to lavish you with yet another collection of studies supporting those CMA Members who provide Aromatherapy treatments.

 The trials below have confirmed a number of benefits for both physical and mental health, linked directly to the inhalation of the aromatherapy treatments assisting with anything from aches and pains to a notable reduction in anxiety levels for patients.

 As mentioned previously with our Reiki and Smudging series, we’re sure you’ll appreciate that we can only bring you a few studies in this format, but we heartily encourage you to do your own research as we have done – and remember that research of this nature counts towards your CMA CPD hours!

 We hope that you will find this information as helpful and fascinating as we have done and we welcome you to share it with your friends, colleagues, and clients – and request that you credit The Complementary Medical Association, to highlight the work we do to elevate the profession for the benefit of all.



Aromatherapy in Obstetrics: A Critical Review of the Literature



The purpose of this study was to evaluate the evidence and decide if the usage of aromatherapy treatments was safe for mother and baby during the perinatal period.

During the prenatal period, aromatherapy is traditionally used to treat pregnancy-related symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. It is also considered to reduce or limit stress, and support or heighten immune function. 

It has also been used worldwide within the intrapartum stage. This can be to induce labour, tolerate labour discomfort or anxiety and expedite labour progress.

Finally, during postpartum it is used for labour to ease discomfort from both vaginal and caesarean births including perineal trauma, inducing regular and quality sleep, and symptoms of depression and anxiety with the mother.

 In conclusion, the evidence indicates that aromatherapy can be administered safely and effectively in obstetrics.


Bertone AC, Dekker RL. Aromatherapy in Obstetrics: A Critical Review of the Literature. Clin Obstet Gynecol. 2021 Sep 1;64(3):572-588. doi: 10.1097/GRF.0000000000000622. PMID: 33927109.



 Effects of Aromatherapy on Anxiety: A Meta-analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials



The conventional medical profession has by large, always been sceptical of the effects of aromatherapy on relieving anxiety within individuals. This meta-analysis (Twenty-five articles and Thirty-two trials) was designed to evaluate the effects of aromatherapy on anxiety in patients in which the data of scale scores of Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) were extracted.

The researchers made searches of randomised controlled trials:

  • (RCTs) about aromatherapy on decreasing anxiety on PUBMED
  • WEB OF SCIENCE (January 1990 to October 2019)
  • EMBASE (updated to October 2019)
  • Chinese databases CNKI, WanFang and CBMD

The results of these studies demonstrated that inhalation and massage aromatherapy significantly decreased anxiety levels in a range of physical and mental health conditions. The weighted mean difference was -5.16 for State Anxiety Inventory (SAI) (95%CI: -5.78, -4.55, p<0.001) and -2.85 for Trait Anxiety Inventory (TAI) (95%CI: -3.95, -1.75, p<0.001).

It is important to note that no side effects were in relation to any of the studies however the data suggested that aromatherapy with selected essential oils could alleviate anxiety significantly no matter its root cause.

There is now a requirement for the dosage of essential oils to be investigated further.


Gong M, Dong H, Tang Y, Huang W, Lu F. Effects of aromatherapy on anxiety: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Affect Disord. 2020 Sep 1;274:1028-1040. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.05.118. Epub 2020 May 26. PMID: 32663929.




 Aromatherapy: Using Essential Oils as a Supportive Therapy (in Cancer Patients)


This article provides an insight into how nurses and practitioners can support patients with cancer safely by using essential oils as an additional, holistic treatment.


Essential oils are becoming more and more accepted within cancer care as a mainstream way of aiding in the management of side effects of both the treatment and the impact on the body through cancer itself. Patients are regularly using it to tackle issues such as insomnia and nausea.


Healthcare professionals should update their knowledge bank about the quality and safety of essential oils when using them within a clinic setting. Lesser quality essential oils and not understanding safety guidelines can negatively affect clinical results.



Reis D, Jones T. Aromatherapy: Using Essential Oils as a Supportive Therapy. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2017 Feb 1;21(1):16-19. doi: 10.1188/17.CJON.16-19. PMID: 28107335.




The Effect of Inhalation Aromatherapy with Damask Rose Essence on Pain Intensity and Anxiety in Burned Patients:

A Single-blind Randomised Clinical Trial


Many burn patients are left suffering from both pain and anxiety post the initial trauma even with the usage of several different conventional medications. This study aimed to investigate the effect of inhalation aromatherapy using specifically damask rose essence to manage the symptoms of post-burn trauma (in this case pain and anxiety.)

Inhaled aromatherapy with Damask rose essence was found to reduce (subjective) pain intensity and state anxiety.

It is now a recommendation to use damask rose essence, as a simple and cost-effective post-trauma management strategy in conjunction with conventional medical treatments.


Sadeghi N, Azizi A, Asgari S, Mohammadi Y. The effect of inhalation aromatherapy with damask rose essence on pain intensity and anxiety in burned patients: A single-blind randomized clinical trial. Burns. 2020 Dec;46(8):1933-1941. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2020.05.006. Epub 2020 May 19. PMID: 32507535.




A Systematic Literature Review and Meta-analysis of the Clinical Effects of Aroma Inhalation Therapy on Sleep Problems



34 studies using the random-effects model revealed that the use of aromatherapy was highly effective in improving sleep problems

This systematic review investigated the clinical effects of inhalation aromatherapy for the treatment of sleep problems such as insomnia. Studies on sleep problems and inhalation aromatherapy, published in Korean and international journals, were included in the meta-analysis

The data included both quantitative and qualitative sleep effects (95% confidence interval [CI], effect sizes = 0.6491). To further support this, there were notable improvements including the reduction of stress, depression, anxiety, and fatigue.

It was noted that the single aroma inhalation method (namely lavender), proved to be more effective than the mixed aroma inhalation.

It is now considered that inhalation aromatherapy is effective in improving sleep issues but further research is required to develop guidelines for the efficient dosages prescribed for inhalation of aromatherapy.


Cheong MJ, Kim S, Kim JS, Lee H, Lyu YS, Lee YR, Jeon B, Kang HW. A systematic literature review and meta-analysis of the clinical effects of aroma inhalation therapy on sleep problems. Medicine (Baltimore). 2021 Mar 5;100(9):e24652. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000024652. PMID: 33655928; PMCID: PMC7939222.





















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