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Background and Objectives:For centuries, fragrance had beneficial psychological and physiological efects on humans. Aro-eases, is becoming more comonly acepted within the health service. However, there are very few published articles, which provide a sound rationale for the use of aromatherapy as a medical intervention. The purpose of this study was to find a scientific explanation for the effect of aromatherapy by investigating 1) whether or not essential aroma oils caused increased brain activity and 2) which areas of the brain were activated by the essential aroma oils. Materials and Method:Olfactory fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging)performed on 11 healthy adult humans during exposure to esential aroma oils (lavender and lemon oils) and buthanol. The c-fos immunohistochemical staining was also performed on brain tisues of 24 Mongolian gerbils after exposure to the esential aroma oils. Results:In the human fMRI study, the olfactory cortex was activated in all subjects by the essential aroma oils and butha-nol. Aditionally, lavender oil also activated the hearing and language-related regions of brain. In the animal study, similar results were observed:exposed to lavender oil. Conclusion:The lavender oil activated not only the olfactory region but also the hearing and language-related regions of the brain. These results imply that the essential aroma oil introduced through the olfactory pathway has effects on other regions of the brain. (Korean J Otolaryngol 2003 ;46 :40 1-8)


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Aromatherapy· Lavendula· Complementary Therapies· Magnetic Resonance Imaging· Proto-Oncogene Pro-teins c-fos.