Aromatherapy and Cancer Patients

Author: Dr. Quinte Naturopathic Centre on 5 March 2012

As promised from my last entry I wanted to share my interest in Cancer care as an aromatherapist. Many of our patients know I’m from Shropshire , England and historically aromatherapy has been part of complementary care in the UK for some time. I can remember my mom being really excited about aromatherapy , herbs , Bach remedies and other delights in about 1985 … and I suppose that’s when I was first exposed to these various therapies as well . She is still a firm advocate of complementary health care.

I became aware of complementary therapies being offered by the National Health Service around 1990. This service targeted the most fragile or end of life patients. It was offered by proactive acute care centres, including many large hospices.

The benefits of relaxation started to be taken seriously in clinical settings. Gentle massage with essential oils was discovered to be effective in cases of anxiety and stress in particular. Over the years other modalities have been added to the portfolio of therapies offered in hospitals and hospices, eg. reflexology and Reiki have been adapted to offer patients different experiences depending on their needs.

Advances in research have highlighted the uses of these intriguing oils- such as their huge potential for fighting bacteria, viruses and fungi – all with no pharmacological side effects. Now aromatherapy is being used more creatively to offer help with symptom management: sore skin cream for radiation burns, mouthwash and wound care - oils are used alongside cancer care treatments not instead of conventional treatments.

In the UK, and now in one hospice in Toronto (1), Aromatherapists have been carefully integrated into care plans, working closely with the nursing teams, to add value to patient’s days – ‘adding life into days’ (2).

My aim is to offer these services to patients in the Quinte area. I do have many supporters, but understand change is sometimes slow.  I have started home visits for the fragile and hope to report more developments soon. I will be attending the aromatherapy world event in September 2012, Dublin, for more training and information on this subject.

For more information contact Annie House at QNC – general clinic now Thursdays 9.30 – last appointment 5pm.


(1)    Referrers to my colleague – Marianne Tavares - author of the UK standards for complimentary care in the UK 2003 -2011.

(2)    St Gemma’s hospice – Leeds , UK

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Quinte Naturopathic Centre

173 Church Street

Belleville, ON K8N 3C1


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