Academic Minute Podcast

Marian Reven, West Virginia University – Aromatherapy and Substance Use Disorder

A simple way to help opioid use disorder patients may be at hand.

Marian Reven, clinical education assistant professor in the health sciences department at West Virginia University, discusses how.

Dr. Marnie Reven has a M.S in Nursing from Walden University and a PhD in Nursing from West Virginia University. Dr. Reven has over 400 hours of aromatherapy-focused education and serves as the chair of the Alliance of International (AIA) Research committee and on the AIA general and executive boards. Dr. Reven is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Education at WVU and a Registered Aromatherapist in the United States. Dr. Reven has presented her work on aromatherapy research around the world at conferences, symposiums, and interviews. Her work to improve the reporting quality of aromatic research led to the creation of the Aromatic Research Quality Appraisal Taskforce (ARQAT pronounced R-cot in 2021 and the TREATS (Transparent Reporting for Essential Oil and Aroma Therapeutic Studies) checklist in 2022. Peer-reviewed publications about these efforts are in process.

Aromatherapy and Substance Use Disorder

Nationally, 1.6 million people had an opioid use disorder in the past year ((2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2020). Adults in treatment for substance use disorder face many challenges and most battle negative emotional states such as anxiety and depression, which are seen as predictors of relapse. Interest in aromatherapy using essential oils has never been higher and there is growing curiosity to see how something as simple as an aroma can support resilience and success for those in treatment. An essential oil is a compound found in many plants that contributes to the flavor and fragrance of the plant.

Aromathérapie is a term originally coined by Rene Maurice Gattefossé in the 1930s. At that time the use of plants for medicinal purposes was considered normal. Our clinical trial aims to determine several things. First, is it feasible, acceptable, and affordable to use aromatherapy during treatment. Next, will the smell of bergamot essential oil delivered using three inhalations three times a day for one week make a positive difference in levels of comfort, ease, and stress. Preliminary results from 57 participants suggest that the answer to both questions is yes. It is feasible and it does help.

What does this mean for the future? The clinical trial is ongoing, seeking over 100 participants, and is set to finish by early 2024. What if something as simple as an aroma could help prevent relapse? The benefits to society, not to mention all the individuals and their loved ones who are struggling with this devastating disorder, would be welcome indeed.

Publications and Research, Grants

Studies Completed

Topic: Oncology nurses and stress reduction using aroma patches: Pilot feasibility

Type: Quantitative, quasi-experimental

Funding: Sigma Theta Tau, Alpha Rho Chapter

Investigators: Reven, M., Humphrey-Rowan, J., & Moore, N.

Publication: 2020, International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy

Studies in Progress

Topic: Adults in treatment for substance use disorder and increasing comfort and reducing stress (Dissertation)

Type: Randomized controlled trial

Funding: Rosenthal Riter Scholarship from West Virginia Nurses Association and the Ruth and Robert Kuhn Nursing Faculty Research Award

Timeline: September 2022 –


Reven, M. E. (2023). Using aromatherapy for comfort, ease, and stress for adults being treated for substance use disorder in north central Appalachia: A randomized controlled trial [PhD, West Virginia University Libraries].

Reven, M. (2022). Welcoming ease: Building a concept from nursing practice. Applied Nursing Research. Volume 64, April 2022, 151567.

Reven, M., Humphrey-Rowan, J., & Moore, N. (2020). West Virginia University oncology nurses don aromatherapy patches: A pilot feasibility study. The International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy, 8(4), 7–15.

Book chapter

Reven, M. E. (2023). Chapter 8 – implementation & research. In M. Kerkhof (Ed.), Clinical aromacare: Aromatherapy in health care & practice (pp. 375 – 386). Kicozo, The Netherlands.


Reven, M. E. (2022, September 30 – October 1). Quality of clinical research in aromatherapy: Perspectives for improvement. Phyt ‘arom, International Congress on Applied Aromatherapy & Phytotherapy. [Online prerecorded PPT]

Reven, M. E. (2022, May 20 – 22). Aromatic research at the crossroads: Time to set the course. Presenting ongoing work of the ARQAT. Sixth Edition of Botanica: Past, Present, and Future. [On-demand session, online]

Reven, M. E. (2022, April 27 – 29). Crossroads in aromatic research: Fresh perspective for the future. Presenting ongoing work of the ARQAT. 2022 International Integrative Nursing Symposium (IINS). [On-demand session, online]

Reven, M. E. (2021, September 16 – 19). The power of disillusionment: Creating the aromatic research quality appraisal taskforce. The Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) 2021 International Aromatherapy Conference and Wellness Expo. Aromatherapy Hot Topics: From Self-Care to Clinical Trials. Wheeling IL, USA.


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