When you're not feeling quite yourself, what do you do? You might just feel a bit down in the dumps. What helps you to feel better?

Many children will turn to friends and family members for help. That's always a great place to start. They can help you figure out what's wrong and what to do about it. Sometimes a trip to the doctor or the pharmacy for some medicine may be in order.

Of course, today's marketplace offers a plethora of alternative treatments for just about every ailment under the sun. For example, some people believe in the healing power of the nose. The nose? What are we talking about? Aromatherapy, of course!

Aromatherapy features the use of essential oils to improve mental and physical health. Essential oils are the concentrated extracts of the roots, leaves, seeds, and blossoms of various plants.

Aromatherapy usually involves the smelling or inhaling of essential oils as they are heated or sprayed in the air. However, essential oils can also be massaged into the skin. Depending upon the exact essential oils used, aromatherapy may be used to treat all sorts of ailments from stomachaches to headaches.

Although it's not clear exactly how aromatherapy helps to heal, scientists believe the nose may play an important role. Receptors in your nose might respond in particular ways to the scents of essential oils. As essential oils stimulate these receptors, your nose communicates with parts of your brain responsible for emotions and memories. These areas of the brain might then have an impact on your mental, emotional, and even physical health.

Other researchers believe essential oils may mix with hormones or enzymes in the blood to heal ailments. Unfortunately, not many scientific studies of aromatherapy have been conducted to determine how effective the treatments are. Nonetheless, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that aromatherapy may indeed have potential value as an alternative form of therapy for some conditions.

So is aromatherapy a new fad? Not at all! Historians believe that essential oils have been used to treat ailments for over 6,000 years. The ancient Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans were all known to use essential oils for therapeutic purposes. Aromatherapy didn't become a popular alternative treatment method in the United States until the 1980s, though.

Many stores now carry aromatherapy products, from essential oils and diffusers to candles and massage oils. Be careful if you shop for aromatherapy products, though. Some products, such as candles, may be sold as “aromatherapy" products, even though they only contain synthetic fragrances instead of essential oils.

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