Jones & Bartlett Learning Medicine Blog

    Can Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Help Kick Cancer?

    Posted by Lindsay White on Feb 9, 2018 10:06:40 AM

    essentail_oils.jpegCancer is a leading cause of Death in the world today, so whether it’s you, a loved one, friend, or acquaintance, chances are high that cancer will be a part of your life at some point.

    So how do we combat this? Being there are so many different kinds of cancers and causes, what are we supposed to do to better the odds? We’ve all heard quit smoking, drinking, eat well, along with many other ways to prevent the most common cancers such as lung or liver cancer. But what about the people who never smoked a day in their life and still get lung cancer? What about second hand smoke and factors that are harder to prevent on one’s own?

    According to the World Health Organization, “Between 30–50% of cancers can currently be prevented. This can be accomplished by avoiding risk factors and implementing existing evidence-based prevention strategies.” So what if there was a way to prevent cancer naturally? A way that could help people combat the cancer causes that are out of their own hands.

    Essential Oils may be what we have all been looking for. While they are already used to aid in supportive care and symptom management of cancer patients, there are even more positives to using essential oils as prevention instead of treatment.

    Aromatherapy is defined as the therapeutic use of Essential Oils and the term was first coined by Rene Gattefosse who was a French Chemist and Perfumer who published a book on aromatherapy in 1937. The book proposed a treatment for diseases in almost every organ system in the body. The use of aromatherapy and oils with medicinal qualities can even be linked back to biblical times and ancient Egypt. A lot can be said about the use of essential oils and how they have changed over time, but there are no records of definitive tests of them aiding in cancer prevention.

    Cancer treatment is a different story. According to the National Library of Medicine, Aromatherapy has been used as palliative care for pain, to improve the mood of cancer patients, reduce malodor of necrotic ulcers, and improve the mental health of these patients.

    According to Ty Bollinger, Author and Medical Researcher, the 5 best cancer fighting essential oils are Frankincense, lavender, myrrh, peppermint, and Turmeric (Curcumin). All five of these have therapeutic qualities, the main commonality being that they all have the ability to reduce inflammation. Frankincense and Lavender both seem to have some other very interesting abilities in the fight against cancer.

    -     A potent inhibitor of 5-lipoxygenase, (an enzyme that battles inflammation)
    -    multiplies white blood cells and modulates immune reactions in order to prevent illness
    -    Has regeneration qualities as it helps contract and tone tissues
    -    Has the ability to destroy toxins that may lead to neurological damage.

    -    Helps fight common germsaromatherapy
    -    Is “anti-tumoral”
    -    Has the ability to reset programmed cell death
    -    reduce the weight of tumors, and inhibit cell growth

    If these essential oils have already proven their ability with these qualities, then Bollinger and other researchers may be onto something in terms of aromatherapy being used as cancer prevention and not only symptom treatment.  

    Bollinger, Ty. “My 5 Favorite Cancer-Fighting Essential Oils & 5 Ways to Use Them.” The Truth About Cancer, 8 May 2017,

    “Cancer.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization,

    Integrative, PDQ, et al. “Aromatherapy and Essential Oils (PDQ®).” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 24 Oct. 2005,

    Topics: medicine, preventive medicine, cancer treatment

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