1. Reducing the symptoms of lymphoedema: is there a role for aromatherapy?

Barclay J, Vestey J, Lambert A, Balmer C.




Dorset Cancer Centre, Poole Hospital, Longfleet Road, Poole BH15 2JB, UK.


Lymphoedema is a chronic and debilitating condition caused by lymphatic insufficiency, which may have serious physical, social and psychological implications for the patient. It is usually managed by a combination of strategies aimed at protecting and decongesting the oedematous limb(s) and stimulating the development of supplementary lymphatic pathways to control swelling in the long-term. However, it is not known which therapies are the most effective. Anecdotally, the addition of aromatherapy oils to massage cream may have a positive effect on symptom relief in people with cancer, although evidence is again lacking. This paper describes a randomized trial of self-massage and skin care using a cream containing aromatherapy oils versus self-massage and skin care using a cream without aromatherapy oils on objective limb volume measurements and symptom relief as measured by the Measure Yourself Medical Outcome Profile 2 (MYMOP2) in a sample of people with lymphoedema. Results indicate that self-massage and skin care significantly improved patient-identified symptom relief and wellbeing for this sample. It also slightly, but not significantly reduced limb volume. However, aromatherapy oils, carefully chosen on the basis that they should benefit this group, did not appear to influence any improvement in these measures.

PMID: 16563861

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]