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Hospital teaches aromatherapy

HOUSTON, Aug. 28 (UPI) -- A Texas hospital is helping teach aromatherapy to cancer patients and their caregivers to help deal with the non-medical issues of cancer.

Cherie Perez, a supervising research nurse in the department of genitourinary medical oncology at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, teaches a monthly aromatherapy class. She says essential oils do have chemical properties that can affect the brain and enter the bloodstream, but for some patients they may be toxic when combined with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, so patients should always discuss using aromatherapy oils with their physician.

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While essential oils may not directly stimulate the immune system, they can complement cancer treatment by boosting the system's ability to fight off infections, says Perez. Certain oils can also stimulate lymphatic drainage or have antibacterial properties and help manage anxiety and nausea, as well as promote sleep, general relaxation, memory and attention. Lavender, ylang ylang and sandalwood can be applied directly to the skin, but other oils are too concentrated and need to be diluted in soaps and lotions.

However, essential oils, like many medicines, can increase a person's sensitivity to the sun and should be used with caution.

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