Özkaraman, A., Dugum, O., Ozen Yilmaz, H., & Usta Yesilbalkan, O. (2018). Aromatherapy: The effect of lavender on anxiety and sleep quality in patients treated with chemotherapy. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 22, 203–210.
To determine the effects of lavender oil aromatherapy on anxiety and sleep quality in patients undergoing paclitaxel-based chemotherapy.
Patients were randomized to lavender essential oil (Lavandula hybrid), tea tree oil, or control. During the first chemotherapy infusion, three drops of lavender essential oil or tea tree oil were put onto a piece of cotton that was placed on each patient’s neck and shoulders, about 10 inches below the nose. No aromatherapy was administered to the control group. Patients randomized to lavender and tea tree oils continued to smell the oil for five minutes every night for one month. Lavender and tea tree oil were purchased from a herbal product firm with quality certifications. Tea tree oil does not have a sedative or relaxing effect; therefore, it was used as a placebo. Patients were evaluated at baseline, after the first chemotherapy infusion, and after one month of chemotherapy infusions.
Randomized control trial with three arms (lavender oil, tea tree oil, control)
Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), measured before and after chemotherapy treatment
A significant improvement in sleep quality as measured by mean score of PSQI before and after chemotherapy in the lavender group (time, p = 0.001), with group differences between lavender and the other groups based on assessments (group*time, p = 0.001). Trait anxiety values before and after chemotherapy were significantly decreased in the lavender group (p = 0.0003); however, there was no difference state anxiety by time or group.
Lavender oil inhalation at bedtime for outpatients with mixed cancer treated with paclitaxel-based chemotherapy may be useful for improving sleep quality and trait anxiety.
Lavender oil inhaled at bedtime appears to be an acceptable and helpful intervention for adults treated with paclitaxel-based chemotherapy for mixed cancer types with poor sleep quality and medium levels of state and trait anxiety. Additional research in larger samples is warranted before recommending for practice in general oncology populations.