This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
There is no evidence in the medical literature that aromatherapy on its own can prevent or heal disease. However, several studies have shown its ability to promote recovery in certain conditions and to reduce stress. Researchers at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center recently found that the vanilla-like smell of heliotropin helped patients relax while they were undergoing MRI scans. And a study of patients who had undergone heart surgery found that those who received a foot massage with neroli (orange) oil were less anxious than those who received the same massage with just plain oil.
In a controlled trial in Scotland, researchers reported that a few dabs of diluted thyme, rosemary, lavender, and cedar oils, rubbed daily into the scalp for seven months, proved highly effective, and safe, in treating alopecia areata, a stress-related form of hair loss.
Despite the lack of scientific research, European physicians and aromatherapists frequently prescribe certain oils for a variety of complaints, including sinusitis, colds and flu, digestive problems, insomnia, migraine, and muscle aches and pains. Among the more common aromatherapy recommendations are: