Essential Oils

Essential Oils For Cancer Care

Updated on 16 November 2020 • 4 minute read
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Overview

Cancer is a disease whereby abnormal cells grow uncontrollably and cause tissue and organ damage. 

Cancer can manifest in many different parts of the body, creating various cancer types such as skin cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, pancreatic cancer, thyroid cancer, etc. 

It can affect people of any age, ethnicity, or sex. 

Possible causes of cancer include genetics, environmental toxins, sun exposure, and other types of radiation, viruses, and infections. 

Conventional cancer treatment options include radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and other drug regimens. 

Some cancer patients opt for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) modalities like aromatherapy (essential oils), acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and massage therapy to supplement their treatments and potential side effects. 

 

Essential Oils As Healing Remedies 

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts containing active compounds known to support physical, mental, and emotional well-being. 

The use of essential oils (EOs) has become increasingly popular in recent decades as more research supports their potential medicinal and therapeutic benefits. 

Many EOs contain anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. 

Some research indicates that certain EOs may help support the immune system.  

 

Can Essential Oils Cure Cancer? 

To date, research does not support using essential oils for cancer prevention or as a cure. 

Although there are promising essential oil and cancer research studies, they’ve only been conducted on Petri dishes rather than humans. 

For example, a 2015 study published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine found that active compounds called monoterpenes in frankincense resin appeared to boost breast cancer cell death in Petri dishes. (1)

A 2018 study on the anticancer properties of particular EOs noted that: 

Essential oils have been shown to possess cancer cell targeting activity and are able to increase the efficacy of commonly used chemotherapy drugs including paclitaxel and docetaxel.” (2) 

Though studies like these seem encouraging, more research and human clinical trials are needed.

 

Can You Use Essential Oils For Cancer Therapy Support & Symptom Management? 

Complementary therapies like aromatherapy may help you manage many of the symptoms and side effects of chemotherapy treatments. 

When used safely and mindfully, many people experience significant improvements in one or many symptoms. 

Work alongside an experienced aromatherapist and your oncologist to determine the right oils and doses for your specific situation. 

Here’s a quick summary of specific essential oils and the symptoms they help address: 

  • Nausea – Lemon, peppermint, and ginger essential oil 
  • Headaches – Roman chamomile, rosemary, lavender, and tea tree essential oil 
  • Pain relief – Clove, clary sage, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and frankincense essential oil     
  • Insomnia – Valerian, lavender, chamomile, frankincense oil, and sandalwood essential oil 
  • Fatigue – Lemon, grapefruit, bergamot, and geranium essential oil 
  • Anxiety – Lavender, chamomile, bergamot, ylang-ylang, rose, and clary sage 
  • Depression – Bergamot, ylang-ylang, grapefruit, and lavender essential oil

 

Other essential oils that may be useful for cancer support are: 

  • Turmeric oil 
  • Myrrh oil
  • Orange oil 

 

How To Use Essential Oils For Cancer Symptoms 

One of the most popular methods of aromatherapy is the Inhalation of EOs via a diffuser. 

Simply add 12-16 drops of EOs, fill the diffuser with water, and press the ‘on’ button. 

Another common way to use EOs is via topical application. 

Always dilute EOs with a carrier oil like coconut oil, jojoba oil, or olive oil. 

Stick to 2-3 drops of EO per 1 teaspoon of carrier oil. 

An aromatherapy massage is a great way to incorporate EOs into a soothing and regenerating session. 

Lastly, you can ingest EOs, but here are a few caveats: 

Orally ingesting oils seems to be a source of controversy amongst the EO community. 

Some claim that it simply isn’t safe to ingest EOs. 

Others say that it’s okay to take EOs orally as long as they are used safely and with a knowledgeable health professional’s direct supervision. 

And others believe that if you do your due diligence, research every high-quality EO you’re looking to ingest, and know the contraindications, you can proceed with caution and use the oils for internal purposes. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) created a comprehensive list of EOs that are considered generally recognized as safe(GRAS) for ingestion provided the oils are undiluted, solvent-free, and consumed in an appropriate quantity and as described. (3) 

This list is not exhaustive. 

The FDA doesn’t regulate EOs, so it’s on you to do your research and make up your own decisions when purchasing any oil. 

It’s essential to keep in mind that EOs are potent concentrated natural oils derived from plant material. 

These oils contain hundreds of active compounds that can influence the body’s function. 

They must be treated with care and respect and caution. 

Always check with your doctor before ingesting any EOs as some oils can interact with medication. 

 

Safety Concerns 

When essential oils are used safely and mindfully, they typically offer little to no harmful side effects. 

Always choose certified organic, therapeutic-grade products that have not been diluted or contaminated. 

Essential oil blends can be particularly useful because mixing EOs often amplifies the healing effects. 

If you’re using EOs directly on the skin, then always dilute them with a carrier oil like coconut oil.

EOs are powerful, and a little goes a long way; some oils can cause skin irritation if they’re not applied correctly or at the right dosage.

Make sure you’re aware of the contraindications for each oil you’ll use. Some oils aren’t suitable for babies, young children, pregnant and nursing women, and high blood pressure or epilepsy. 

If you experience any adverse reaction while using any oil, discontinue use immediately. 

Always consult your oncologist or health professional before using any essential oil for cancer care. 

We also recommend seeking the guidance of an experienced aromatherapist to work alongside your medical team.

 

 

 

References 

(1) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2221169115001446

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5889900/

(3) https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=182.20

 

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