Aromatherapy is also known as essential oil therapy. It involves the use of essential oils from different plant sources, usually in the form of massages, inhalations or baths.
Claims about the benefits of aromatherapy for tumor patients include reducing anxiety and emotional stress, reducing pain, reducing muscle tension and fatigue. Claims about the effect of certain oils range from the restoration of energy harmony, changes in mood and improvement of the general state of health to more specific claims such as anticonvulsive and spasmolytic Properties.
The last systematic review of this topic concluded that there is no long-lasting effect of aromatherapy massage; however, short-term improvements in general well-being, anxiety and depression can be reported up to 8 weeks after treatment. The evidence from 11 studies taken into account with different designs is contradictory; however, some point to short-term positive effects on psychological well-being, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, general well-being, symptomatic improvements and improved pain control compared to the sole standard treatment. In summary, there is weak evidence that aromatherapy could reduce anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and improve overall well-being for up to 2 weeks.
Although essential oils have shown minimal backlash when used in adequate dilution, allergic reactions can be caused in all oils. Repeated topical use of lavender and tea tree oil has been associated with reversible prepubertal gynecomastia, which could be relevant in patients with estrogen-dependent tumors.
The essential oils are either taken, inhaled or used in massages or baths in aromatherapy. Aromatology is often used in combination with other forms of therapy, such as chromotherapy or music therapy. The oils are distributed via blood after penetrating the skin, or they are absorbed by the lymph and the liquid, which is unbound in the cells, and transported to other parts of the body. The path they take from reception to elimination can be very different. The oils are excreted by the lungs, urine, skin and often also in several ways together.