Q: Dear Dr. Power I have heard that aromatherapy can be very helpful to people who are undergoing chemotherapy. Do you have any information on this? I would appreciate it! Thank you, M.
A: Thank your for your question concerning chemotherapy. Aromatherapists disagree as to whether or not essential oils should be used during or soon after chemotherapy. Patricia Davis, in her book Aromatherapy A to Z, states that essential oils should not be used at all during or soon after chemotherapy. Her book is written for a wide audience and her cautious approach may reflect this. Shirley Price and Jane Buckle in their aromatherapy reference books written specifically for health care practitioners, indicate that there are some essential oils that may be carefully used in some cases to help relieve side effects of chemotherapy.
However, this type of intervention requires that a knowledgeable aromatherapist work closely with the patient under the direction of the patient's oncologist. I so wish that I could give you some simple suggestions that you could use on your own to help with chemotherapy but I cannot because this would be irresponsible. However, I would be happy to speak with your oncologist to see if any aromatherapy interventions would help you manage the chemotherapy side effects.