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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 22, 2019

Aromatherapy reduces fatigue among women with hypothyroidism: A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial

  • Jessie Hawkins EMAIL logo , Christy Y. Hires , Elizabeth W. Dunne and Lindsey A. Keenan



This randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial identifies the effect of an aromatherapy blend of essential oils on fatigue, which is one of the most commonly unaddressed symptoms of hypothyroidism, by evaluating the effects of daily aromatherapy inhalation.


Participants included women aged 18–55 with a diagnosis of hypothyroidism. Women who had a history of thyroid cancer were excluded, due to the confounding effects of cancer on fatigue as the outcome of interest. Participants were randomized into two groups: the aromatherapy group, treated with inhalation of the essential oil blend, and the control group, treated with an odorless vegetable oil blend. The primary outcome was change from baseline in fatigue scores as measured by the Multidimensional Fatigue Symptom Inventory (MFSI), a validated instrument which measures multiple patterns of fatigue.


After adjusting for baseline scores, no significant difference was found between the aromatherapy group and the control group at midpoint. Both groups experienced a reduction in symptoms during the first week of the intervention. At the endpoint, participants in the aromatherapy group had improved fatigue scores across all ten subscales, as compared to the control group. Not all improvements achieved statistical significance, indicating that the aromatherapy treatment has a greater effect on the subscales of global, affective, and general fatigue.


This is the first study to evaluate the effects of aromatherapy on fatigue among women with hypothyroidism. These findings provide evidence that regular inhalation of an aromatherapy blend may reduce fatigue among women with hypothyroidism, particularly in the areas of global, affective, and general fatigue.


The authors would like to express appreciation for research funding from the Franklin Institute of Wellness. The authors are also grateful for students Olivia Cleveland and Carson Royster, and volunteer Joan Clifft for their contributions to this project. Appreciation is also extended to Dani Williamson, FNP, for assistance with patient recruitment.

  1. Registration and Study Protocol: The study is registered at with protocol ID# NCT03465176

  2. Author Contributions: All of the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  3. Research Funding: This study was funded by the Franklin Institute of Wellness.

  4. Employment of Leadership: All authors are employed as researchers and/or instructors at the Franklin Institute of Wellness

  5. Honorarium: None declared

  6. Competing Interests: This study was funded by an academic institution; no industry-related organizations played a role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.

    Dr Jessie Hawkins

    No competing financial interests exist.

    Christy Hires

    No competing financial interests exist.

    Elizabeth Dunne, MS

    No competing financial interests exist.

    Lindsey Cherry

    No competing financial interests exist.


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Received: 2018-12-05
Accepted: 2019-03-27
Published Online: 2019-08-22

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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