The therapeutic use of essential oils has been around for thousands of years. For treatment of multiple sclerosis, the NMMS recommends essential oils of juniper as well as rosemary. Essential oils can be used for a soothing massage, an inhalant, for use in a bath or fragrance in a room. Essential oils should be diluted . . . a few drops in the bath or a bowl of water in the room to inhale. They must also be diluted before use directly on the skin. In addition to rosemary, the NMMS suggests black pepper oil for constipation; juniper for water retention; chamomile for sleep disturbances; and green apple fragrance to reduce headaches. Aromatherapy has never before been scientifically tested, but it is currently undergoing trials at NHS hospitals to see if it reduces pain and anxiety and if it can treat infections.
Also widely marketed, but not mentioned by the NMSS, is lavender, which consists of essential oils with over 100 compounds. It is commonly used to reduce tension, restlessness, depression, and insomnia. Lavender has been shown to cause sedative effects in rats. Caution is suggested when using alcohol or other sedative drugs. Adverse reactions include constipation, skin irritation, headache, and nausea. It is considered poisonous if swallowed.
Lemon balm is a member of the mint family that has been used to relieve anxiety and insomnia. As an inhalant, it is used for Alzheimer's disease. As aromatherapy it is well tolerated. Ingested, it can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and stomach pain.
Skullcap is used for its calming effect on the body, to relieve insomnia, and to lessen the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Adverse reactions include liver toxicity and, in overdose, seizures or stupor. It may interact with and cause an altered effect on serum immunoglobins.