Randomized trial of aromatherapy: Successful treatment for alopecia areata
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A description of the experience
Arch Dermatol. 1998 Nov;134(11):1349-52.
Randomized trial of aromatherapy. Successful treatment for alopecia areata.
Hay IC1, Jamieson M, Ormerod AD.
- 1Department of Dermatology, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Foresterhill, Scotland. firstname.lastname@example.org
To investigate the efficacy of aromatherapy in the treatment of patients with alopecia areata.
A randomized, double-blind, controlled trial of 7 months' duration, with follow-up at 3 and 7 months.
Dermatology outpatient department.
Eighty-six patients diagnosed as having alopecia areata.
Eighty-six patients were randomized into 2 groups. The active group massaged essential oils (thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedarwood) in a mixture of carrier oils (jojoba and grapeseed) into their scalp daily. The control group used only carrier oils for their massage, also daily.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:
Treatment success was evaluated on sequential photographs by 2 dermatologists (I.C.H. and A.D.O.) independently. Similarly, the degree of improvement was measured by 2 methods: a 6-point scale and computerized analysis of traced areas of alopecia.
Nineteen (44%) of 43 patients in the active group showed improvement compared with 6 (15%) of 41 patients in the control group (P = .008). An alopecia scale was applied by blinded observers on sequential photographs and was shown to be reproducible with good interobserver agreement (kappa = 0.84). The degree of improvement on photographic assessment was significant (P = .05). Demographic analysis showed that the 2 groups were well matched for prognostic factors.
The results show aromatherapy to be a safe and effective treatment for alopecia areata. Treatment with these essential oils was significantly more effective than treatment with the carrier oil alone (P = .008 for the primary outcome measure). We also successfully applied an evidence-based method to an alternative therapy.
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