Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"When is aromatherapy most effective?"
I am a 29 year old woman who wants less stress in her life. Will aromatherapy work, even if a little?
Aromatherapy is a commonly used method for relaxation. While often associated with "eastern medicine," many people in the United States utilize these methods. However, it is unclear how effective this method is and / or the most effective usage time. Aromatherapy is a form of "alternative medicine" in which smells are used to allow for relaxation. Many people believe there are significant effects and benefits from this, and it has stood the test of time in that is has been used for hundreds of years in Asian society. As such, there may be some effectiveness. That being said, as a medical doctor, we can only prescribe or advise people based on known data. There in NO data that aromatherapy provides for improved relaxation or decreased stress. What benefit appears to occur in many people's experience appears in studies to be due to the placebo effect. That is, people think they are getting a therapy (i.e. aromatherapy) and therefore feel better. As such, there is no known benefit and thus I cannot say that it works and advise when to use it. That being said, there is likely very little harm. Thus, if you wish to try it, it may be worthwhile. If stress is a significant component of your life, see your doctor for more information on this and other therapies available. Good luck!
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