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Health Fusion: Virtual reality, music and aroma help patients relax at Mayo Clinic

Pretend for a few seconds that you're walking through a peaceful forest. You hear distant bird songs, smell the fresh and earthy air and feel the soft moss beneath your feet. Just a few moments can hep you relax. Experts at Mayo Clinic are studying how complementary medicine techniques -- aroma therapy, music therapy and virtual reality that transports you into nature -- help patients going through stressful situations relax and feel better. In this episode of NewsMD's "Health Fusion," Viv Williams explores current research about integrative medicine.

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For many people, just the thought of being in the hospital or having a procedure can send stress levels soaring and trigger anxiety. All of that angst can make difficult situations worse.

Dr. Brent Bauer , director of the Mayo Clinic Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program, heads up research into how alternative therapies, when used in conjunction with traditional treatment, may benefit patients.

"Does everybody respond to aroma therapy, of course the answer is no," says Dr. Bauer. "Does everybody respond to acupuncture? Of course the answer is no. But you find that some people have a tremendous response to lavender aroma therapy, acupuncture or massage. And we're grateful that we can add that as an adjunct [to their other, standard treatments]."

Dr. Bauer discusses two studies. One looked at whether or not aroma therapy helped the stress levels of infertility patients going through certain procedures and if that reduced stress aided in conception. The second study explored how interactive music therapy might lessen the load for people with spinal cord injuries.

He also describes a third, ongoing study about virtual reality. Does donning equipment that transports you into nature help reduce your stress? Listen to find out.

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For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at vwilliams@newsmd.com . Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

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