Tim Brunson DCH

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A brief review of current scientific evidence involving aromatherapy use for nausea and vomiting.

The objective of this study was to compile existing scientific evidence regarding the effects of essential oils (EOs) administered via inhalation for the alleviation of nausea and vomiting. CINAHL, PubMed, and EBSCO Host and Science Direct databases were searched for articles related to the use of EOs and/or aromatherapy for nausea and vomiting. Only articles using English as a language of publication were included. Eligible articles included all forms of evidence (nonexperimental, experimental, case report). Interventions were limited to the use of EOs by inhalation of their vapors to treat symptoms of nausea and vomiting in various conditions regardless of age group. Studies where the intervention did not utilize EOs or were concerned with only alcohol inhalation and trials that combined the use of aromatherapy with other treatments (massage, relaxations, or acupressure) were excluded. Five (5) articles met the inclusion criteria encompassing trials with 328 respondents. Their results suggest that the inhaled vapor of peppermint or ginger essential oils not only reduced the incidence and severity of nausea and vomiting but also decreased antiemetic requirements and consequently improved patient satisfaction. However, a definitive conclusion could not be drawn due to methodological flaws in the existing research articles and an acute lack of additional research in this area. The existing evidence is encouraging but yet not compelling. Hence, further well-designed large trials are needed before confirmation of EOs effectiveness in treating nausea and vomiting can be strongly substantiated.

J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Jun;18(6):534-40. Lua PL, Zakaria NS. Centre for Clinical and Quality of Life Studies, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin, Terengganu, Malaysia. peilinlua@unisza.edu.my

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