A pilot study evaluating the use of essential oils in management of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) showed that patients receiving aromatherapy using peppermint oil were the least likely to have nausea associated with autologous bone and marrow transplantation (BMT). Study results were reported in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.

“Essential oils may complement pharmacologic antiemetic regimens to prevent and treat CINV, improving the quality of care and patient-centered experiences in the BMT population,” the study investigators wrote in their report.

This randomized, controlled study was conducted at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida. Included patients had been recipients of autologous BMT, and they were assigned to 3 treatment groups. One group (21 patients) was given aromatherapy using 100% pure ginger essential oil, another group (20 patients) was given 100% pure peppermint oil, and the third group (19 patients) was given a control treatment of canola oil. For each group, oil was applied to gauze for inhalation every 4 hours through day +3 or +4, depending on the chemotherapy received. Patients were assessed for CINV every 12 hours from the beginning of the study through day 5 after completing chemotherapy.

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A nausea event of grade 2 or higher was reported in 20 patients overall. This was most common in patients using canola oil (10 patients), followed by those given ginger oil (7 patients), and was least common in patients using peppermint oil (3 patients; P =.045). Grade 2 vomiting occurred in 5 patients overall, including 2 in the control group, 1 in the ginger oil group, and 2 in the peppermint oil group, but these differences for grade 2 vomiting were not considered significant.

The study was ultimately completed by 17 patients in the control group, 15 patients in the ginger oil group, and 12 patients in the peppermint oil group, but these differences also were not significant. Some patients who withdrew had commented that they felt the scent was too strong with the oil they received.

“Aromatherapy may be a promising, inexpensive, noninvasive treatment for CINV that patients undergoing BMT can administer and control as needed,” the investigators wrote in their report.


Demont LM, Patterson A, Reich RR, Mason TM. Reduction of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: a pilot study of essential oils in the autologous blood and marrow transplantation population. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2023;27(2):155-163. doi10.1188/23.CJON.155-163

This article originally appeared on Oncology Nurse Advisor