Aromatherapy: is it nonsense or does it work?

We went to an event last week hosted by LUSTER Premium White to learn about their new whitening toothpastes made with essential oils. They flew in their medical Aromatherapy expert Dr. Daniel Penoel along with one of his American patients who he had helped. His patient gave her testimony on how after countless hours of time and money for treatment, the pain from her interstitial cystitis was able to be alleviated with essential oils.

Dr. Penoel explained that too many of us are too quick to pop an Advil or Motrin when we have a headache, rather than go to an aromatherapist and get a mix of essential oils to treat it naturally like they do in his native Florence.

Clearly there are certain conditions and health issues that are better left to our physician and FDA-approved drugs. But what about using lavender to induce better sleep? Or peppermint and eucalyptus to help clear chest and nose congestion?

According to our experts at UC Berkeley, "some essential oils are toxic if swallowed, or can cause skin irritation. Some people feel ill after inhaling them or are allergic to fragrances. Indeed, the trend in cosmetics these days is "fragrance-free."

If you want to experiment with essential oils, remember this:
* Don't swallow them or allow them to get into your eyes.
* If you have a skin disorder, don't apply them to your skin.
* If you have epilepsy, don't use oils of sweet fennel and rosemary, which are said to induce seizures. This may not be true, but don't chance it.
* Smells can't cure or prevent diseases.

None of us at personally practice aromatherapy, but we're curious what you think about it. Do you use aromatherapy? What issues do you turn to aromatherapy for? Do you think we put too many unnecessary chemicals into our bodies?

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.