Aroma massage, referred to as Aromatherapy, is a type of massage that uses plant extracts that have been processed into oils known as essential oils. These oils have a strong scent and activate the nervous system once smelt and help one to relax and ease into the massage. It has been said that it has the potential to promote health within the body, mind, and spirit.
Aromatherapy has been around for thousands of years, they originated from ancient cultures such as Egypt, China, and India where they were used for medicinal and religious reasons. Even today there is some medical research backing for essential oils, they are well known for their healing benefits.
Its roots in spiritual practice and shamanic rituals are what make some people think that its medicinal use isn’t valid, however, these are usually people who haven’t investigated the research that was conducted on the medical benefits of essential oils. The research provides quantitative proof that essential oils have medical benefits.
What can Aromatherapy Treat?
- Asthma: Strong smells have been proven to be able to open the bronchioles during spasms.
- Insomnia: The smells calm down the nervous system which leads to easier and deeper sleep later on.
- Depression: The release of endorphins helps to give someone a rush of pleasure that can help alleviate depression temporarily.
- Fatigue: It can help you get better quality sleep in the evening which should help alleviate feelings of fatigue.
- Menstrual issues: Certain oils can stimulate blood flow throughout the entire body which can help alleviate problems that occur throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle.
- Peripheral neuropathy: If a person is lacking feeling in one of their limbs (arms or legs) then Aromatherapy can help stimulate the nervous system to repair the ends of the frayed nerves.
- Inflammation: When these oils are absorbed through the skin, they have the ability to flush out the waste products within cells which could help alleviate signs of inflammation.
- Cancer: Some of the waste products that are flushed out can include leukocytes (cancer cells) which could prevent a diagnosis further down the line.
- Erectile dysfunction: The enhanced blood flow benefit extends to all areas of the body.
- Alopecia: The enhanced blood flow can even trigger the regrowth of dormant hair follicles.
- Menopause: The fluctuations experienced during menopause occur because the body is struggling to find the new homeostasis, Aromatherapy improves circulation and promotes the removal of waste products which helps the body acclimate to the new hormonal environment more easily.
- Arthritis: Due to the oils ability to lubricate joints, it reduces the instances of friction caused arthritis.
How is aroma massage done by a masseuse?
The following equipment is used:
- Facial steamers
- Clay masks
- Aroma Diffusers (Little devices that spread a smell throughout an entire room)
- Aromatic spritzer
- Bathing salts
- Body oils, creams, or lotions for massage or topical application
- Scented candles
The main equipment used every session is the Aroma Diffuser which is a device that burns essential oils to fill up a room or space with a certain smell (usually peppermint, citrus, sandalwood, or lavender) and body oils which are a blend of carrier oil and a multitude of essential oils.
The masseuse applies the carrier oil blend with a general massage technique. (The type of massage varies greatly depending on the masseuses’ personal preference.)
The main idea is to overpower the client’s sense of smell to the point where their nervous system gets shocked into action which initiates a healing protocol where there is improved circulation, removal of waste products and delivery of key nutrients to vital body tissues.
Who should try Aromatherapy?
Most people would benefit from a therapy session, the pleasant smells alone are an enjoyable experience. However, there are certain people who would appreciate the healing art of Aromatherapy more than others, such as:
- Elderly people with sore joints
- People with asthma
- People with chronic stress
- People experiencing acute arthritis
- People struggling to sleep
- Woman going through menopause
- People experiencing hair loss (and are taking other precautions)
- People who lack feeling in any area of their body
- People with sinus issues
- People with clinical depression
- People looking to regain their sense of smell (including Covid 19-related)
The top 10 benefits of Aromatherapy:
These are some ways that Aromatherapy can benefit everyone (not just those with a particular medical condition):
1. Helps to manage pain:
It triggers a rush of endorphins in the brain which makes the pain more bearable.
2. Improves sleep quality:
The calming oils have the ability to relax the nervous system which makes sleep easier and deeper.
3. Reduce stress, agitation, depression, and anxiety:
The same relaxing quality also helps to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression by calming the mind.
4. Treat headaches or migraines:
The root cause of most headaches and migraines are stress symptoms, so anything that helps relieve that stress will help to clear the symptoms.
5. Soothe sore joints:
Damaged cartilage and ligaments around a joint tend to be brittle and dry (The friction caused by this causes pain). The essential oils get absorbed through the skin and get distributed to nearby synovial tissue which helps lubricate the joints, thus alleviating the pain.
6. Ease the discomforts of labor (when just a diffuser is used):
The process of childbirth is an Inherently painful one and Aromatherapy massage before giving birth has been proven to reduce the pain experienced whilst giving birth. (Removes the necessity of an epidural)
7. Alleviate the side effects of chemotherapy:
Radiation therapy is extremely harmful to the recipient and Aromatherapy can help repair damaged cells through stimulating regeneration processes.
8. Improve digestion and aid metabolic processes:
Your sense of smell helps prepare digestive enzymes within the gut, so when your sense of smell is highly stimulated in Aromatherapy, it stimulates the same process to improve the current digestion and absorption of food/nutrients.
9. Boosts one’s natural immunity:
The fact that the oils are absorbed from the skin, makes the body send white blood cells to check if the foreign substances are safe.
10. Helps to fight bacteria, viruses, and fungi:
When you have a current bacterial, viral, or fungi infection: the white blood cell response of the body helps attack these invaders.
Which essential oil is best for me?
The best essential oil for you depends on what effect you want it to have on you. In ancient cultures, they believed that the essential oils were spiritually blessed by their gods and deities. They attributed certain oils to gods that had similar qualities. From this, three categories of essential oils were established: Health, Energy, and Calming oils.
If you want the oil to relax you and bring you to a state of calm:
- Roman chamomile
If you want the oil to excite, invigorate and energize you:
If you want the oil to relieve sickness, pain, or ill-health:
- Tea tree
It is important to note that these essential oils need to be put into the main carrier oil such as Jojoba, castor, or canola oil. You are able to mix multiple different oils together, it is just ill-advised to mix oils meant for different outcomes (e.g., Peppermint and Lavender).
The most preferable blend would include only 3 essential oils (intended for the same purpose) with a single type of carrier oil that has been heating up to a pleasantly warm temperature.
Safety concerns for Aromatherapy:
There are a few concerns that need to be mentioned in regard to aromatherapy:
- The aroma diffuser needs to be clean.
- There needs to be an air humidifier in the room to keep the air fresh
- Certain oils can make specific people act allergically (a wrist test needs to be used to observe if the client will react negatively or not).
- The towels used both beneath the client and over need to be completely clean with no added moisture.
- The oil needs to be heated but not to too high of a temperature (to avoid first degree burns).
- Scented candles need to be kept clear of any flammable objects.
Extra tips and tricks:
- Many Aromatherapy Massage therapists use spiritual practices to supplement the massage. (Use of chakras and meridians)
- It is advisable to keep the room warm as the client slightly sweating aids the process.
- One should dry off the client after the session as the oils have a tendency to stain clothes.
- Relaxing music must be played in the background to create an ambience.
Aromatherapy is a great way to relax and unwind after a long stressful day, relieve pain from a nagging injury, open up block sinuses, or get rid of a persistent headache or migraine.
Everyone can benefit from it and a good masseuse will know exactly which oils you need for the outcomes you desire. So, the next time you are considering going for a massage: Consider an Aromatherapy experience, you may just enjoy it.