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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 5869315, 21 pages
Review Article

The Effectiveness of Aromatherapy for Depressive Symptoms: A Systematic Review

Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Correspondence should be addressed to Benson Wui-Man Lau; kh.ude.uylop@ual.nosneb

Received 25 August 2016; Revised 25 October 2016; Accepted 14 November 2016; Published 4 January 2017

Academic Editor: Arndt Büssing

Copyright © 2017 Dalinda Isabel Sánchez-Vidaña et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Depression is one of the greatest health concerns affecting 350 million people globally. Aromatherapy is a popular CAM intervention chosen by people with depression. Due to the growing popularity of aromatherapy for alleviating depressive symptoms, in-depth evaluation of the evidence-based clinical efficacy of aromatherapy is urgently needed. Purpose. This systematic review aims to provide an analysis of the clinical evidence on the efficacy of aromatherapy for depressive symptoms on any type of patients. Methods. A systematic database search was carried out using predefined search terms in 5 databases: AMED, CINHAL, CCRCT, MEDLINE, and PsycINFO. Outcome measures included scales measuring depressive symptoms levels. Results. Twelve randomized controlled trials were included and two administration methods for the aromatherapy intervention including inhaled aromatherapy (5 studies) and massage aromatherapy (7 studies) were identified. Seven studies showed improvement in depressive symptoms. Limitations. The quality of half of the studies included is low, and the administration protocols among the studies varied considerably. Different assessment tools were also employed among the studies. Conclusions. Aromatherapy showed potential to be used as an effective therapeutic option for the relief of depressive symptoms in a wide variety of subjects. Particularly, aromatherapy massage showed to have more beneficial effects than inhalation aromatherapy.