CNS Drugs

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 257–280 | Cite as

Aromatherapy in the Management of Psychiatric Disorders

Clinical and Neuropharmacological Perspectives
  • Nicolette PerryEmail author
  • Elaine Perry
Leading Article


Aromatherapy is currently used worldwide in the management of chronic pain, depression, anxiety, some cognitive disorders, insomnia and stress-related disorders. Although essential oils have been used, reputedly effectively, for centuries as a traditional medicine, there is very little verified science behind this use. The pharmacology of the essential oils and/or their single chemical constituents, therefore, remains largely undiscovered. However, accumulating evidence that inhaled or dermally applied essential oils enter the blood stream and, in relevant molecular, cellular or animal models, exert measurable psychological effects, indicates that the effects are primarily pharmacological.

This review includes evidence from the limited number of clinical trials that have been published of ‘psychoaromatherapy’ in relation to psychiatric disorders, together with evidence from mechanistic, neuropharmacological studies of the effects of essential oils in relevant in vitro and in vivo models. It is concluded that aromatherapy provides a potentially effective treatment for a range of psychiatric disorders. In addition, taking into account the available information on safety, aromatherapy appears to be without the adverse effects of many conventional psychotropic drugs. Investment in further clinical and scientific research is clearly warranted.


Dementia Linalool Myristicin Linalyl Acetate Lemon Balm 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are most grateful to Lorraine Hood and Linda Cawley for manuscript preparation, and Dr Sarah Davies, General Practitioner, Morpeth, for helpful comments. Dr Nicolette Perry was supported by the Newcastle Medicinal Research Centre and Dr Elaine Perry was supported by the Medical Research Council. The authors have no potential conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the contents of this review.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medicinal Plant Research CentreUniversities of Newcastle and Northumbria, Newcastle General HospitalNewcastle upon TyneUK

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