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Medical Aromatherapy Revisted

Schneider, R., Singer, N., Singer, T. (2018) Medical Aromatherapy revisited – Basic mechanisms, critique, and a new development. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical & Experimental, 34, e2683.

Objective:According to a series of recent meta‐analyses and systematic reviews, aromatherapy has shown to be effective in treating patients with different medical conditions. However, many of the clinical studies are of rather low methodological quality. Moreover, there is much conceptual ambiguity with regard to what aromatherapy actually constitutes.

Method: In this paper, we discuss the conditions under which aromatherapy is most likely to be of medical value by outlining the workings of the olfactory system and the necessary requirements of odors to be therapeutic. We then introduce an aromatherapeutic inhaler that was tested in a series of studies involving 465 participants.

Results: This inhaler (AromaStick®) produced large to very large effects across a variety of physiological target systems (e.g., cardiovascular, endocrine, blood oxygenation, and pain), both short term and long term.

Discussion: Inhalation of volatile compounds from essential oils yields almost immediate, large, and clinically relevant effects as long as the scents are delivered highly concentrated from an appropriate device. The changes caused in the body seem side effect‐free and can be sustained when inhalation is repeated.

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