Aromatherapy is beginning to enter the medical mainstream, with groups as diverse as the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs touting the use of fragrance as a therapy that can complement traditional health care. There's little evidence to suggest that aromatherapy can directly cure illness, but research has found it can help reduce a wide range of symptoms and side effects in some people.
"Many specific ailments can benefit from aromatherapy blends and treatments," said Monika Meulman, president of the Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists. "For example, insomnia, nausea, headaches and migraines, and aches and pains are often improved with aromatherapy -- just to name a few."
Aromatherapy involves the use of what are called essential oils, which are very potent distillations of the fragrant portions of plant life such as flowers, roots and bark, said Dr. Hal Blatman, medical director of the Blatman Pain Clinic in Cincinnati and a past president of the American Holistic Medical Association