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Essential oils are a major component in the European system of medicine known as phytotherapy and are used extensively there in every aspect of patient care. In Britain and the United States many of the packaged air-freshners used in hospitals have essential oils as their active ingredient, but because we are so bombarded with long-scientific-sounding names, this fact is often disguised. Read the labels and you will see what I mean.

As antibiotic and anti-viral air-freshners the essential oils obviously have a positive role to play in any hospital but they are also used to kill pain, help the patient sleep and enhance the effect of sedative drugs, thus allowing lower doses to be used. At the Churchill Hospital, Oxford, many pof the Alzheimer's patients treated with essential oils have become more alert and the general noisiness of patients with dementia has been lessened as they feel calmer.

The geriatric ward at St Stephens Hospital, London, has been using essential oils in diffusers. In a ward in another hospital in Oxford , patients were given a choice of conventional drugs or essential oils for pain relief and to help them sleep, and invariably they chose the essential oils. 

What is so interesting about this is that here we have a situation in which the patients are the best judge of the effectiveness of the treatments on offer - only they know how much pain they are suffering and how well they sleep - and they are opting for essential oils.

As a side benefit, the aroma of the oils makes the whole environment smell wonderful, surely a great improvement on the usual hospital smell!

Here are some anti-viral essential oils which will not only help keep everyone 'as well as can be expected', as the saying goes, but also uplift the spirit in their own special, suble way. Simply spray in a clean or new plant-spray or put a few drops on a bowl of boiling water:

Oregano-Tea tree-Niaouli-Cypress-Inula odorata-Cinnamon-Red thyme.

If you are not a patient but on night duty and need something to keep you alert but relaxed, put one of the following  on boiling water in a bowl and allow the molecules to waft around. Not only will it help you in your office but it will soothe the patients in the ward too.

Geranium - helps emotionally - Lavender-clears the air, anti-bacterial, etc.

A mixture of geranium, lavender and bergamot will alleviate anxiety and depression, while a mixture of lavender and grapefruit will keep the staff on their toes, even-tempered and relaxed as well as benefiting everyone with its refreshing, uplifting and stimulating aroma.

Reference:The Fragrant Pharmacy: Valerie A. Worwood.

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