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In aromatherapy, chemical compounds in oils are absorbed in the body through skin application and/or inhalation. Oils in certain herbs contain chemical compounds that activate the limbic system.
Inhaled aromatherapy has become a popular, gentle treatment to reduce mild anxiety. It has also been tried for a variety of other conditions, including respiratory problems, postsurgical nausea, menstrual pain, and tension headaches.
Topical treatment with essential oils has shown possible value for fungal infections and hair loss. Oral use of essential oils has shown promise for various digestive and respiratory problems.
Essential oils can be toxic when taken internally, producing unpleasant and even fatal effects. Toxicity studies have not been performed for many essential oil products, and maximum safe dosages remain unknown. 1 Infants, children, seniors, and people with severe illnesses should not use essential oils internally except under the supervision of a physician; healthy adults should only use well established products (such as peppermint oil) for which safe dosages have been determined.
Inhaled or topical use of essential oils is much safer than oral use. However, allergic reactions to inhaled or topical plant fragrances are not uncommon. 2 Furthermore, when applied to the skin, some essential oils might also promote sunburning (photosensitization), raise the risk of...