Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils extracted from plants and herbs to treat conditions ranging from infections and skin disorders to immune deficiencies and stress. Essential oils are widely used throughout Europe and a system of medical aromatherapy is currently practiced in France.
Aromatherapy has recently found it's way into mainstream science in the United States. The National Institutes of Health in 1992 officially recognized "unconventional medical practices" and began a study to integrate these practices into modern health care. Among the unconventional treatments; herbal medicine, of which aromatherapy is a branch.
"Aromatherapy works two fold," according to Michael Scholes, president of Aromatherapy Seminars, Los Angeles, California. "These essences have a smell that, when inhaled, is processed in an area of the brain that controls emotions. They penetrate the skin to get into the bloodstream and the immune system to work in a physiological method."