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Cancer Research The benefits of aromatherapy and massage in palliative care

Complementary therapies, such as massage and aromatherapy, are rising in popularity among patients and healthcare professionals and are increasingly being used in palliative care to improve the quality of life of patients. Research conducted by Marie Curie Cancer Care, London, UK provides new clinical evidence of the benefits that these therapies offer cancer patients.


The researchers assessed the effects of massage and aromatherapy on 103 cancer patients in a palliative care setting. The patients were randomly allocated to receive massage using a carrier oil (massage) or massage using a carrier oil plus the Roman chamomile essential oil (aromatherapy massage).

The results revealed that there was a statistically significant reduction in anxiety after each massage and the patients who received aromatherapy massage also also noted improvements in their disposition, physical comfort and their quality of life.

The report concludes that massage with or without essential oils appears to reduce levels of anxiety, but the benefits are clearly enhanced by the addition of Roman chamomile essential oil as this seems to help improve physical and psychological symptoms, as well as the patients' overall quality of life.


Source: Palliat Med 1999 Sep;13(5):409-17. An evaluation of aromatherapy massage in palliative care. Wilkinson S, Aldridge J, Salmon I, Cain E, Wilson B

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