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Aromatherapy as a promising adjunctive treatment for acute renal colic pain: an issue that merits further research

Renal colic (RC) is a frequent and severely painful condition which is commonly caused by the obstruction of the urinary tract by stone.

Hassan Sharifi1 · Abolfazl Firouzian2 · Amir Emami Zeydi1

1 Student Research Committee, Department of Medical-Surgical Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran 

2 Department of Anesthesiology, Faculty of Medicine, Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences, Sari, Iran 

Renal colic (RC) is a frequent and severely painful condition which is commonly caused by the obstruction of the urinary tract by stone. Patients usually present with acute severe pain to the emergency department (ED) and pose some management challenges for the healthcare provider (HCP). In spite of recent pharmacological advances, especially in the anti-nociceptive drugs, no specific treatment without major side effects has been identified for alleviating this devastating pain; therefore, conservative treatment remains the preferred therapeutic approach, so far [1]. In this regard, the application of complementary medicine along with conventional treatments has been recommended by several studies. Aromatherapy, as a complementary or alternative therapy, uses the pure oil of the roots, leaves, and flowers of plants to improve or maintain high level of physical and mental status. Aromatherapy can be accompanied by conventional treatment modalities such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and opioid analgesics to relieve pain [2, 3]. 

Some preliminary findings of double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials [1, 3] suggested that aromatherapy can be beneficial for alleviating RC pain and reducing the need for intravenous analgesics agents. Ayan et al. [3] investigated the effect of rose essential oil as a supplementary and adjunctive therapy for the relief of RC pain. They assigned 80 patients suffering from RC in two equal groups. In addition to 75 mg intramuscularly diclofenac as a conventional therapy, the intervention group was given aromatherapy (rose essential oil), while the control group received placebo (0.9 % NaCl). They found that if conventional therapy accompanied aromatherapy, RC pain decreased significantly. In another similar study, Irmak et al. [1] assessed the effect of lavender oil as an adjuvant treatment of RC pain. They assigned 100 patients in two equal groups, one group received aromatherapy (lavender oil) plus 75 mg intramuscularly diclofenac as the standard medical treatment and the other group only received standard medical therapy. Consistent with Ayan et al. study, they found that aromatherapy significantly reduces the RC pain. Apart from these two studies, we could not find other studies that have focused on the effect of aromatherapy on RC pain. 

Considering the importance of RC pain management and potential benefits of aromatherapy, it seems that this non-pharmacological modality can be used as an effective, inexpensive, and safe analgesic options for RC. However, further well-designed clinical trials are warranted to determine the effectiveness of aromatherapy as adjuvant therapy, to reduce RC pain. In this regard, need for a valid and updated trials with larger sample size and more rigorous methodology is crucial.

Compliance with ethical standards

 Conflict of interest Hassan Sharifi declares that he has no conflict of interest. Abolfazl Firouzian declares that he has no conflict of interest. Amir Emami Zeydi declares that he has no conflict of interest. 

Ethical approval This article (letter to the editor) does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


1. Irmak Sapmaz H, Uysal M, Tas U, Esen M, Barut M, Somuk BT et al (2015) The effect of lavender oil in patients with renal colic: a prospective controlled study using objective and subjective outcome measurements. J Altern Complement Med 21:617–622 

2. Stevensen C (1995) Nonpharmacological aspects of acute pain management. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery 1:77–84 

3. Ayan M, Tas U, Sogut E, Suren M, Gurbuzler L, Koyuncu F (2013) Investigating the effect of aromatherapy in patients with renal colic. J Altern Complement Med 9:329–333