Using Essential Oils to Relieve Chemotherapy Side Effects

Our guest blogger, Stephanie, is healing (she prefers ‘healing’ opposed to beating or fighting) from stage IV Inflammatory Breast Cancer.  In her quest for total health, she is continually seeking out alternative and complimentary therapies and is eager and happy to share with others what is working for her. For more information on the oils Stephanie uses, go to

Essential Oils to Relieve Chemotherapy Side Effects

When I was first diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer (which later metastasized to my bones), I dove into researching every complementary and alternative treatment I could find.  I knew I was going to do chemo/surgery/radiation and after reading about all the not-so-pleasant side effects – I was determined to help myself without using additional drugs.  One complimentary therapy I went to daily was essential oils.

Have you ever wondered what essential oils are exactly?  Well, for one thing, they aren’t oily!

Essentials oils come from plants.  The oils work in plants the same way the blood works in our bodies.  When the skin is cut, the blood cleanses the wound and kills bacteria allowing the tissue to start healing.  When a plant is cut, oil of the plant is released.

Essential oils come from the stems, bark, seeds, root, flowers, and other parts of the plants.  When you smell the aroma of a rose or the smell of freshly cut mint,  you have experienced aromatic qualities of essential oils.  Essential oils have been used throughout history for medicinal and therapeutic benefits.  In our modern world, as people are moving toward  holistic approaches to healthcare, I believe we are going to hear more about essential oils.  So here’s your jump start.

Like I said, I used them just about every day while I was receiving conventional treatment, (and still do!) which lasted about nine months.  What I didn’t realize at the time was all the antibacterial and antiviral properties of these oils.  I guess I just knew instinctively to use them. It wasn’t until after treatment that I started researching how they worked.  And, I’m happy to report that I never got an infection or a cold during chemotherapy treatments.

Here’s a sampling of how I used them –

When I felt a sore throat coming on, I took a spoonful of honey (local honey is beneficial for those with allergies) and two drops of lemon essential oil 2-3 times a day.  Knocked the sore throat out every time.

When I felt mouth sores coming on (which was frequent) I would swish twice a day with a blend of 1 teaspoon vodka, one drop each of melaleuca, bergamot, and thyme, and 1 teaspoon of water. Now let me warn you, this is powerful stuff – burned like the dickens, but the mouth sores were gone by the end of the next day.

Using Essential Oils to Relieve Chemotherapy Side Effects - Lavender Essential Oil

Just one of the many oils that can help you achieve holistic wellness.

I felt the need to detox the chemicals being put in my body, so I would take a 2-4 hour bath just about daily with epsom salt (which I later switched to Himalayan), baking soda, and usually lavender oil.  I’d switch up the oils every now again, but lavender is what I usually went to.  Lavender also works fabulously for those having trouble getting to sleep.  A few drops on a tissue, placed on the pillow, or a few drops with a carrier oil – such a coconut – rubbed on the bottoms of the feet work fabulously.

I fortunately didn’t suffer too much from headaches (because I was using the oils) – but when one did arise, a little lavender or peppermint did the trick.  Peppermint is also wonderful for digestion.  I would add a few drops of peppermint to castor oil and rub it clockwise on my abdomen.   Clockwise, so as to rub up on the ascending colon and down on the descending colon.

Speaking of digestion – a drop of lemon or peppermint essential oil in my glass water bottle makes for a refreshing drink.  And, for cleaning countertops, I use vinegar, lemon, and water – it does a fabulous job without using any chemicals.

Fevers would arise every now and again – In my quest to avoid the hospital, I would put peppermint and lime essential oils on my spine.  This kept my fever down, again without the use of any more drugs.

A few months ago, I developed a terrible rash on my neck which eventually started to weep.  I had a full blown open sore and I was bound and determined not to use a steroid (as I did in the past) to clear it, as I believe the rash was the chemo trying to get out of my body.  So I put an aloe plant on my kitchen counter, and throughout the day would clip a little and smear the aloe on my neck.  I also used olive oil (coconut oil seemed to dry it) with lavender and melaleuca essential oils.  I didn’t apply the oils directly on the wound (that would have stung – ask me how I know?!), but I applied it to the perimeter.  I also diffused lavender in my bedroom at night.  Lavender not only smells delightful, it has antibacterial, antiviral, antidepressant  properties as well (along with a slew of others).  Once the weeping stopped, my neck healed in two days.

No scars, just clear skin. These oils have been a God send – I have replaced all the medications I had in my medicine cabinet and then some.  Oils have been around for thousands of years and I believe along with a healthy life style, essential oils are an excellent way to get and stay healthy.

49 thoughts on “Using Essential Oils to Relieve Chemotherapy Side Effects

  1. Michele

    I have just had a sentinel node biopsy for Triple Negative Breast Cancer. Will not get results for a month, and I anticipate two months before chemo, followed by radiation. Can you suggest how I might use my ess oils during my Chemo course? I have used them topically every day and some internally, since I first learned of my abnormal mammogram five months ago. A lumpectomy two months ago removed the cancer. Thank you in advance.

  2. Michele

    I just found this blog tonight, and I love it. I am facing radiation therapy for breast cancer in the near future, and would like to use essential oils as much as possible. I like Stephanie’s recipe for mouth sores. Do you know how often she used it in a day. All best wishes to her in her journey.

  3. Katrina Hedberg

    Hello my mom is going through chemo for ovarian cancer and has very dry skin and some blistering and cracks from it all. Should she try the Alevera and then Olive oil and Melaleuca oil and lavender around the sores? If so does she just put the essential oil blend around the cracked sores?
    Thank you

  4. Mary Ann OMalley

    Well it should be said essentials are amazing.but certain care must be takin when using them during chemo and radiation.if you need something to stop nausea you can inhale pepermint.ginger is good but may effect your can not use essential oils after two days before chemo treatments.and you must wait 9 days after treatment unless inhaling pepermint or giner.because essentials can interfere with receptors during chemo.please do your homework when dealing with essential oils and cancer treatment.I’ve done my reasearch because I wanted to help my brother with cancer but I wanted to ensure essentials would not disrupt his treatments research information came from a supervising nurse from Davis who wrote articles on essential oils and cancer..

      1. Mary Ann

        I had been researching the use of essential oils for use in helping with issues of chemo,my brother was having chemo related issues.I am nursing staff and I am experienced with essential oils,I researched into the American Cancer Society articles about essential oils and the benifits to cancer patients,and how to use them correctly so they did not become invasive in mixing with chemo treatments.then knowing wich essential oils combat symptoms related to chemo,such as nausea and not feeling well in general..and what oils like ginger that you would not want to use for clotting reasons during time of treatments.and knowing the benifits of frankinsense ,for calming and cell regeneration,and being one of only a few essential oils that could pass the blood barrier to the brain,I wanted him to use these oils but be safe and not effect his treatment.there is unlimited research written about essential oils and cancer benifits.just do not get it from the companies themselves,some will have you ingesting oils that may cause harm.people with compromised liver, and thyroid should never ingest honest belief is no one should.

  5. Darcie

    my mom has stage 4 lung cancer. it’s her second time.
    First she had her upper right lobe removed along wirh chemo/radiation.

    This time, the lymph nodes from the lung traveled to her neck and formed a tumor in her neck lymph nodes.

    It has NOT spread anywhere else. Right now, I have her putting Frankinsence on the bottoms of her feet twice a day and try to do 2 drops under her tongue.

    Any other suggestions?

    1. Stephanie Castleman

      Sounds like you’re on the right track – maybe also apply it directly to the tumor site. Application may need to be done every 2-3 hours. And of course a good clean diet is important as well as a balanced mind, body and spirit. I HIGHLY recommend Radical Remission by Kelly Turner. She also has a website – you can research healing stories of people who have used western medicine, only eastern or both. And lastly, it’s so important to use good quality pure oils from reputable companies.
      One more thing, there is no silver bullet, but I believe if we can consistently work to get the body healthy, it (body) was created to heal itself.

    2. thenaturepathdocCarol has extremely helpful tips for stage 4 lung cancer. It is important to choose a strong enough protocol and go on an anti-cancer diet. This web site will steer you in the right direction. Let’s remember, also, that the body of Christ was broken for our healing. Salvation in Christ includes not only eternal life, forgiveness of sin, and the gift of holy spirit, but also peace and complete healing. In my studies, I have seen that the greatest indicator for healing cancer is faith that one will recover and a strong will to live, regardless of which protocol is chosen.Thinking of you as you help your mom.

  6. Karen

    Can anyone recommend a blend of oils for nausea. I have stage IV mets to bones and currently in chemo….
    I’ve tried peppermint … But not helping so far
    Thank you!

    1. Stephanie

      Hi Karen
      Have you tried Ginger EO? I also used ginger chews – they come in a variety of flavors (if you get tired of just straight ginger). I’d eat just a handful of food, often – I felt like if I kept a little something in my stomach I was less nauseous. I also drank warm ginger tea.
      How are you using the peppermint? Have you tired putting it on the bottoms of your feet?

    2. Mary Ann OMalley

      Be very careful if you are doing chemo,you can inhale or diffuse pepermint,do not use any oils after 2 days before treatment,or before 9 days after treatment,it will affect your receptors during treatment.ginger can cause clotting problems so peppermint is best for nausea, diffuse it.

      1. Renee

        RE. “do not use any oils after 2 days before treatment…”

        This is confusing. Are you saying to discontinue/stop using essential oils 2 days prior to receiving chemotherapy? Could you please clarify?

        Ginger root & presumably its essential oil are known to thin the blood which has the potential to be problematic for people on anticoagulant (blood thinners) therapy. Turmeric is also known to have blood-thinning properties, but it has also bern shown to kill some types of cancer cells.

        Turmeric and milk thistle, aka silymarin, are also beneficial for detoxing the liver.

        Reishi and Maitake mushrooms have also been identified as having a destructive effect on cancer cells.

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  8. Allison

    For patients experiencing metallic taste from chemo I would recommend “miracle fruit”. Eating one small berry-like fruit makes sour things sweet and takes metallic taste from food. It is a miracle. We live in Florida and buy the bushes here at Pine Island Nursery in Homestead. They cost $35.

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    1. Lisa Post author

      Thanks for your question, Tommie. I (The Wellness Wife) will reach out to Stephanie and have her answer your question on here so everyone can benefit from the answer.

    2. F. Netardus

      I’m told that using plastic eating utensils may help. Haven’t tried it yet, as I’ve just started chemo, but it’s worth a try.

    3. Stephanie

      I did! Using plastic utensils help (I found some fancy metallic ones and took those to restaurants with me)
      Using lemon essential oil in my water helped as well.

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  11. Amy

    I enjoyed this blog it was very informative . I also am a IBC person and will be getting with this Beautiful Lady soon to chat about oils and how they can help me …Thank you for asking her for this blog

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