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How can aromatherapy help me if I have multiple sclerosis (MS)?

Many people believe certain smells can be therapeutic, a practice known as aromatherapy. It can be used to help both your mind and spirit, though most physicians believe that the practice cannot heal the body. Even so, some people find certain scents help with morning sickness and other types of nausea.

According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), aromatherapy can be used to ease stress and anxiety, as well as with complementary treatments such as massage.

The use of fragrant plants and essential oils -- concentrated extracts from flowers and plants -- takes place in cultures around the world. A French chemist named Rene Gattafosse invented the modern practices of "aromatherapie" and looked at its impact on various conditions.

Some theorize that certain smells are effective at easing depression or anxiety because smell receptors send chemical messages to the brain, impacting a person's mood.

An animal study using rats found that certain scents seemed to improve the animals' response to stress, as well as their immune response, according to the NIH. Some studies have also shown aromatherapy may improve the lives of people with cancer.

Aromatherapy can be used either through a method that allows you to inhale the scent, such as a diffuser, or by applying essential oils directly to the skin in a diluted form, often through massage.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.