Aromatherapy may work by sending chemical messages to the part of the brain that affects moods and emotions (see Question 3).
Essential oils are most often used by inhaling them or by applying them to the skin (see Question 4).
Laboratory studies and animal studies have shown that certain essential oils have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, calming, or energizing effects (see Question 5).
Aromatherapy research with cancer patients has mainly studied its effect on other health conditions and quality-of-life issues such as cancer-related symptoms, stress, and anxiety. There are no studies discussing aromatherapy as a treatment for cancer (see Question 6).
Safety testing on essential oils has found very few bad side effects. Lavender and tea tree oils have been found to have some hormone-like effects (see Question 7).
Aromatherapy products do not need approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because no specific medical claims are made (see Question 8).
WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute
May 16, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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