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Alternative Therapies:  Aromatherapy
Treating illness with highly concentrated oils extracted from plants is known as aromatherapy. These highly scented extracts-called essences or essential oils-contain the substances that give plants their smell. Aromatherapists believe that many also have medicinal properties. If the oil is dissolved in alcohol, or some other solvent, the product is called a resin or absolute. Essential oils are used in massage treatments. They can also be inhaled or added to baths. Inhaling is believed to work the quickest, because smell has been shown to have an immediate effect on the brain. Scientists have shown that the oils can also penetrate the skin and are absorbed into the body fluids and the bloodstreams, to work internally.

Warning Concentrated oils, resins and absolutes must be used with care as they sometimes cause allergy or skin damage. Must be used only when prescribed by a medically qualified practitioner.

Practitioners believe that aromatherapy is free from side affects and suitable for people of all ages. Aromatherapists claim that they can treat almost all illness, and often see immediate improvement in nervous problems such as depression, anger, stress, headaches and insomnia. Almost all the oils have proven antiseptic qualities and many, such as lavender, tea tree and geranium, are said to be highly effected against infections caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses. The oils are also said by practitioners to be able to prevent illness.

Consulting a therapist begins with a discussion of your general health and way of life, including diet, exercise, and posture and sleeping habits. Doctors and nurses are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of aromatherapy, and many hospitals now offer it as an additional treatment. Scientists have proved the medicinal properties of many plants, and accept that these properties are present in many aromatherapy oils. Research has shown that the scent of the oils affects the cells in the nose, which send messages to the brain, and that the oils can, indeed, penetrate the skin.

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