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Aromatherapy:
Is it worthwhile?
Brent A. Bauer, M.D.
Essential oils used in aromatherapy
are typically extracted from various
parts of plants and then distilled. The
highly concentrated oils may be inhaled
directly or indirectly or applied to the
skin through massage, lotions or bath
salts. Aromatherapy is thought to
work by stimulating smell receptors in
the nose, which then send messages
through the nervous system to the
limbic system — the part of the brain
that controls emotions.
Many essential oils have been shown
to be safe when used as directed.
However, essential oils used in
aromatherapy aren’t regulated by the
Food and Drug Administration. When
applied to the skin, side effects may
include allergic reactions, skin irritation
and sun sensitivity. In addition, further
research is needed to determine how
essential oils might affect children and
how the oils might affect women who
are pregnant or breast-feeding, as well
as how the oils might interact with
medications and other treatments.
If you’re
considering
aromatherapy,
consult your
doctor and
a trained
aromatherapist
about the possible
risks and benefts.
Research on the
effectiveness of
aromatherapy - the
therapeutic use of essential
oils extracted from plants -
is limited. However, some
studies have shown that
aromatherapy might have
health benefts, including:
Relief from anxiety and depression
Improved quality of life, particularly
for people who have chronic health
conditions
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