Aromatherapy is the practice of using the extracted aromatic essences of specific plants, seeds, flowers, bark etc for healing purposes, or to promote well-being and health. It is widely perceived as being relaxing and non-invasive, and can be of help to some people when not used in place of conventional medicine.
Proponents of aromatherapy say it works because it has a profound effect on the central nervous system, and can help the immune system function better and trigger general healing. They say its benefits are manifold: that it can help relieve anxiety and depression, reduce feelings of stress and promote an overall feeling of vitality and well-being.
The actual term “aromatherapy” came about purely by chance, when French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé burned his hand during an experiment in the 1920′s. He then accidentally plunged his hand into a vat of lavender oil and within a few days it had healed completely, without leaving a scar, any blistering etc. The experience prompted René-Maurice to investigate the use of other essential oils.
Essential oils are volatile liquids, or those which tend to vaporize and evaporate, which are extracted in сеrtаin ways from plants. Proponents of aromatherapy believe they have сеrtаin properties. Anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-infectious and anti-bacterial are just some of the qualities believed to be inherent in these special elixirs. Beware of synthetically derived oils, which may smell nice but lack any real content whatsoever.
Unlike many other types of massage, aromatherapy massage relies on essential oils blended together to create a relaxing and therapeutic treatment. They are added to the carrier oil or massage lotion, where they are thought to be both breathed in as well as soaked into the skin for beneficial effect.
People have aromatherapy massages for a variety of reasons. As the essential oils used are all thought to have different healing properties, one will be selected especially for you after a brief consultation with the massage therapist.
Some popular essential oils used in aromatherapy massage, and their purported healing properties, are:
-Lavender oil: to calm, aid in sleep, balance and relax
-Sweet marjoram oil: Often combined with lavender to relieve pain associated with muscular strains and menstrual cycles
-Eucalyptus oil: Powerful antiseptic thought to be effective against сеrtаin airborne viruses
-Grapefruit oil: This lovely citrus scent uplifts and refreshes
-Clary sage oil: Soothes, relaxes and can help re-balance the hormones
-Lemongrass oil: Not just a staple of Thai soup, this oil also calms, relaxes and can be helpful as an astringent – and an insect repellent!
-Ylang-ylang oil: Mainly used to relieve stress but can also be used to help treat sexual dysfunction when mixed with other oils, such as rose and jasmine.
Does Aromatherapy Really Work?
Aromatherapy seemingly works because it is a holistic therapy, which means that a practitioner takes into account not only a person’s medical history but also their emotional feelings, lifestyle and health background overall. They listen to their patients, and make them feel both cared for and as if they have a say in what the treatment will be.
As many ailments aromatherapy seeks to treat are stress-related – backache, depression, anxiety, mild muscular pain – it’s no surprise that people can genuinely notice a positive outcome after experiencing an aromatherapy massage, or relaxing in a bath scented with essential oils. And in some clinical trials, specific essential oils were shown to have effects on health: jasmine, for example, was found to be a powerful aide to sleep. However, always check with a medical professional first as not all oils are suitable for everyone, i.e., pregnant women.