The London-based ‘International Federation of Aromatherapists‘ claims that:

medical research has now recognised that emotional support is vital in maintaining good mental health. Wellbeing needs to encourage pleasant emotions of contentment and calmness, enabling feelings of relaxation, inner peace and feelings of optimism.

The simple act of caring touch (massage) using essential oils is a highly effective way to target symptoms of stress and anxiety and the following are a list of some of the most effective:

• Clary sage (Salvia sclarea)
• Neroli (Citrus aurantium var amara flos)
• Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
• Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
• Rose (Rosa damascena)
• Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata)
• Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis)
• Mandarin (Citrus nobilis)
• Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var amara fol)
• Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
• Frankincense (Boswellia sacra)

“Caring touch using essential oils is a highly effective way to target symptoms of stress and anxiety”? And what about the list of the “most effective oils”? I concucted a few ‘rough and ready’ Medline searches and fear that there are some corrections in order.

  • Clary sage (Salvia sclarea): no sound evidence for the the above claims.
  • Neroli (Citrus aurantium var amara flos): only very limited evidence for the above claims.
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): limited evidence exists (e.g. here).
  • Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile): limited evidence exists (e.g. here).
  • Rose (Rosa damascena): limited evidence exists (
  • Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata): limited evidence exists (e.g. here).
  • Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis): very limited evidence exists (e.g. here).
  • Mandarin (Citrus nobilis): the only study I found was negative.
  • Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var amara fol): no sound evidence for the the above claims.
  • Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens): no sound evidence for the the above claims.
  • Frankincense (Boswellia sacra): no sound evidence for the the above claims.

So, for once there actually is some (albeit not convincing) evidence which should be good news for fans of aromatherapy/essential oils.

Why then does the International Federation of Aromatherapists not just go with the existing evidence?

Why do they claim things that are not true?

Why do they bring aromatherapy in more than necessary disrepute?

But perhaps they can prove my review of the evidence to be incomplete and can add convincing trial data to it?

Watch this space.


5 Responses to Aromatherapy: the ‘International Federation of Aromatherapists’ lists ‘some of the most effective’ essential oils against stress and anxiety

  • And if your symptoms of stress and anxiety are happening because you are struggling economically and don’t have enough money to pay the rent this month or the electricity bill, I can’t see that paying money to an Aromatherapist is going to help….

  • They are also ignoring the growing body of evidence about levels of VOCs in homes is a worry in terms of health. We are all supposed to be lowering them. Candles, joss sticks, smelly oils on burners etc etc all increase VOC levels in the air.

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