An aromatherapy massage is massage therapy using natural plant oils extracted from flowers, stems, bark, roots, leaves, or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical well-being. These highly concentrated plant oils are called “essential oils” and are added to the massage oil or lotion.
When the aromas of these essential oils are inhaled, it is widely believed to stimulate brain function. The nostrils are attached to a certain part of the brain called the limbic system, which controls emotions and influences hormones and the nervous system. When you inhale essential oil molecules (aroma), signals are transmitted to the limbic system and influence memory, stress level, heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, digestion, and the immune system.
Essential oils are believed to be absorbed through the skin, where they travel through the bloodstream, promoting whole-body healing. Aromatherapy is gaining momentum as a form of alternative medicine. The benefits are mood enhancement, pain relief, and increased cognitive function.
There are several kinds of essential oils available with their healing properties. Some of them calm the body, while some are energizing. Following are some purported properties of widely used essential oils:
Stress Relief – Vanilla, Bergamot, Lemon, Lavender, Orange, Chamomile, Patchouli, Ylang Ylang
Self Esteem – Bergamot, Jasmine, Orange, Rosemary, Cypress, Grapefruit
Agitation – Sandalwood, Lavender, Chamomile (Roman), Mandarin
Anxiety/Fear – Jasmine, Lavender, Sandalwood, Rose, Bergamot, Cedarwood, Chamomile (Roman), Frankincense, Neroli, Patchouli
Sadness/Grief – Bergamot, Lemon, Frankincense, Clary Sage, Rose, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lavender, Orange, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang, Chamomile (Roman)
Isolation – Chamomile (Roman), Clary Sage, Bergamot, Frankincense, Rose
Fatigue – Jasmine, Lemon, Basil, Bergamot, Rosemary, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Ginger, Grapefruit, Peppermint
Aphrodisiac – Sandalwood, Jasmine, Patchouli, Rose, Vanilla, Clary Sage, Ylang Ylang
Memory Boosters – Lemon, Basil, Peppermint, Cypress, Rosemary
How to Use Essential Oils?
Since the essential oils are highly concentrated, applying them in their pure form is not recommended directly to your skin. To experience better results, you should use small amounts of these oils diluted in water, massage lotion, or carrier oil. The use of aromatherapy oils could be in the following methods.
Baths – Adding aromatherapy oils to your bath is the easiest way to obtain their health benefits. Add several drops to the bathwater and mix well before submerging yourself.
Vapor Inhalation –As many essential oils are believed to alleviate sinus or respiratory issues, steam inhalation has become a very popular application method. Add five drops of essential oils to steaming water and inhale the aroma covering yourself with a towel tent (placing a towel around your head, covering the hot water bowl as well, preventing the aroma from escaping while inhaling it).
Lotions/Creams – You can add a few drops of essential oil to your favorite carrier lotion or cream, namely; Shea butter, cocoa butter, or any unscented lotion base where you can create your fragrant blend) to stimulate healing properties.
Aromatherapy Massage – Undoubtedly, the most popular method of application is massage. Blending a few drops of essential oil with carrier lotions (olive oil, sweet almond oil, rosehip oil, warmed coconut oil, avocado oil, grape seed oil, jojoba oil, cocoa butter, Shea butter, etc.) can affect your body with both psychologically and physiologically depending on which essential oil you use. The olfactory sense will be triggered using essential oils during massage. Some oils are believed to be absorbed into the bloodstream through the skin and produce healing effects.
Why do People Looking for Aromatherapy Massage?
An aromatherapy massage is particularly addressed to conditions involving stress and improving emotionally-related conditions.
- Digestive disorders
- Back pain
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Here are a few explanations of research that have been being done on aromatherapy massage:
- Self-massage significantly improved symptoms and well-being in people with lymphedema. It also helped to reduce limb volume slightly (but not significantly). Carefully selected aromatherapy oils appeared to be more effective than massage without them.
- Sixteen first-time mothers were given a 30-minute aromatherapy massage two days after delivery, while 20 mothers were given standard post-partum care. The aromatherapy massage group had significantly decreased post-partum blues and anxiety ratings and increased vigor and attachment to their babies.
- Research recommends that patients with cancer, particularly in the palliative care setting, increasingly use aromatherapy and massage.
What can I expect during an aromatherapy massage?
After the consultation, one or more essential oils will be selected based on what your expected outcome needs and mixed in with the massage oil or lotion.
The subtle aroma of the essential oils fills the air around you during the massage allowing you to inhale and mix with your bloodstream through your skin.
After the massage, the massage therapist may suggest a blend of aromas (fragrances) that you can use at home in between massage treatments.
Massage is not recommended for you if you are:
- Having infectious skin disease, open wounds, or rash
- immediately after a surgery
- immediately after chemotherapy or radiation, unless recommended by your doctor
- Prone to blood clots. Since there is a risk of blood clots being dislodged and if you have heart disease, always check with your doctor before having a massage
- pregnant, you should check with your doctor before considering to have a massage. Such massage should be performed by massage therapists certified in pregnancy massage.
Massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed skin, unhealed wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia, or areas of recent fractures.
It is always advisable to talk with your doctor if you are considering getting an aromatherapy massage.
- Do not have a heavy meal before a massage
- If it is your first time at the clinic or spa, arrive at least 10 minutes early to complete the necessary forms. Otherwise, arrive 5 minutes early so you can have a few minutes to rest and relax before starting the massage.