Can Aromatherapy Help With Cancer?
If you’re planning to use essential oils when you have cancer or are/were receiving treatment, please see an aromatherapist trained in cancer care. And always clear this with your oncologist ahead of time.
Essential oils can help with symptoms of cancer and with the side effects of treatment. Essential oils can reduce bruises, scars, stress (frankincense), anxiety (frankincense), depression, fatigue (frankincense) and pain (lavender, ginger, peppermint). They can also help relieve nausea, redness, rashes, dryness, burning, and itching from treatment.
However, some essential oils can interfere with treatment. Avoid essential oils one week before and one month after chemotherapy. There are some essential oils that protect our cells, and this may extend to cancer cells. Additionally, some essential oils can interfere with the metabolism of chemotherapy drugs, making them less effective. For radiation, some essential oils are phototoxic which could cause worse burns. Additionally, some oils have radiation protective properties which could make treatment less effective.
You may have heard that frankincense oil can kill cancer cells. Well, boswellic acid is antitumoral, however it exists in frankincense extract and not at all in frankincense essential oil.
There are some studies showing promise that some essential oils inhibit cancer cells, help prevent cancer or have anticancer properties, but more research is needed.
And don’t forget the caregiver! Selfcare for the caregiver tends to decline and they can experience anger, depression, fear, hopelessness, anxiety, worry, fatigue, stress, and loss of sleep. Some essential oils to help them include lavender, peppermint, spearmint, bergamot, lemon, sweet orange, lemongrass, ginger, frankincense, and cardamom.
And finally, in the case of estrogen dependent cancers, avoid aniseed and sweet fennel essential oils.