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Aromatherapy and Cancer

May 27, 2010

Cancer and Aromatherapy.

A difficult subject, complicated by lack of human studies on essential oils use during cancer treatments.
So many possible statistical combinations and permutations. So many essential oils, types of cancer , chemotherapy drugs, and pre-existing medical conditions the mind boggles trying to generalize safely.

This review article does a fair job discussing possible oil/treatment interactions. Although I disagree with the “ginger decreases clotting time” statement. If anything it would increase time to clotting but only at high doses of ginger when combined with acetaminophen and warfarin. Those are the only case reports thus far. Current literature supports save use of ginger although older anesthesia protocols suggested avoidance of ginger prior to surgery.

The potential for complications from the herb-drug interactions between
traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and anesthesia was studied in “Herbal
Medicines and Perioperative Care.” (Lee, 2005). This study verifies the
relative safety of ginger among surgical patients in regard to blood coagulation
parameters such as platelet aggregation and international normal ratios, and
INR values (Lee, 2006). The overall morbidity due to interactions between
TCM prescriptions and anesthesia was negligible. However, a two-week
hiatus from all TCM prescriptions and herbals was recommended prior to
surgery based on rare but possible minor interactions.

Chemotherapeutic medications producing free radicals is relevant to this discussion and is often overlooked when describing the relationship between anti-oxidants and chemo drugs.

Alkylating and Anthracyclines Medications
cisplatin (Platinol)
carboplatin (Paraplatin)
chlorambucil (Leukeran)
carmustine (BiCNU)
cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)
busulfan (Myleran)
ifosfamide (Ifex)
doxorubicin ( Doxil)
daunorubicin (Cerubidine)
epirubicin (Ellence)
mitomycin (Mutamycin)
bleomycin (Blenoxane)

One factor oncologists consider when determining which
chemotherapy medications to use to treat a cancer patient is cancer cell
type. There is evidence that three specific antioxidants interfere with three
specific conventional cancer therapeutics in vivo: flavonoids with tamoxifen,
N-acetyl-cysteine with doxorubicin, and beta-carotene with 5-fluorouracil.
Paradoxically, antioxidants are prescribed for some patients during cancer
treatment to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.

Two prescription antioxidants, mesna (Mesnex) and amifostine (Ethyol), are prescribed to
specifically prevent the side effects of the cancer chemo drugs ifosfamide,
cyclophosphamide, and cisplatin. The use of these antioxidants does not
reduce the effectiveness of cisplatin, cyclophosphamide, or ifosfamide in the
treatment of cancer. These two antioxidants are for prescription use only; they
have been evaluated in human studies by the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) and are approved for use in this cancer chemotherapy setting.

Numerous other studies have shown that patients receive many benefits when
treated with certain antioxidants with or without chemotherapy and radiation.
Human studies showing the impact of dietary supplements and essential oils
which have high ORAC value, on chemotherapy effectiveness are not required for
products marketed as supplements. More research regarding the role of supplements
in conventional oncologic treatment is required.

James Geiger MD
the oilMD

Anaesth Intensive Care. 2005 Aug;33(4):506-13.
A survey of Chinese herbal medicine intake amongst preoperative patients in Hong Kong.
Critchley LA, Chen DQ, Lee A, Thomas GN, Tomlinson B.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 27, 2010 9:47 am

    I’ve often mixed niaouli essential oil with organic rosehip oil, a 50/50 blend and given it to women undergoing radiation. They put it on their skin the night before treatment, on the area to be treated and after their treatment. Not one woman has burned, what I have found is that the skin actually tans, leading me to the assumption that this essential oil has powerful
    uv protection.

  2. May 27, 2010 12:16 pm

    A very thoughtful article; there should be more of this kind of research

  3. May 30, 2010 11:13 am

    Thanks you are very kind.

  4. May 30, 2010 11:15 am

    The carrier oil Tamanu oil is excellent for application to prevent and treat radiation burns.

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