Massage can range from being very relaxing, with flowing gentle movements and deep tissue work helping to melt away tension and stress; through to more vigorous and stimulating techniques, helping muscles and joints recover from strenuous exercise and prepare for more training. Aromatherapy massage can also be very beneficial in helping to manage longer term ‘niggles’ from old back injuries, through to stiff achy joints and tension headaches. The range of conditions which may benefit from aromatherapy massage are broad and cover everything from encouraging lymphatic drainage and circulation to assisting with digestive complaints and period pains. Aromatherapy treatments are tailored to the individual’s needs and time is spent with each client getting an understanding of their treatment requirements and their medical history to ensure that oils are chosen which best fit that picture. Where appropriate, suggestions regarding lifestyle and diet are made.
In therapeutic terms the oils can be used in many different ways. The can be burned as incense or in an oil burner to fragrance the environment and subtly alter mood. Most people will associate the use of essential oils with massage, while a tailored blend of oils for use in the bath can be used to continue treatment at home. Because essential oils are readily absorbed by the skin they can be used in a variety of mediums such as creams, lotions or aromatic waters. Specific complaints may be treated with hot or cold compresses too.
The use of oils in aromatherapy is an extension of the more generic use of plants for medicinal purposes. While many will use aromatherapy for relaxation of the mind and body, it can also be used to ease the discomfort of common ailments e.g. Eucalyptus oil inhaled can ease the discomfort of a blocked nose or stuffy head; abdominal massage with an appropriate oil blend can help to relieve the discomfort of bloating; arnica infused oil to encourage healing from strains and sprains.
Background History and Science
Aromatherapy is the practice of using the volatile oils extracted from plant material to affect emotional and physical health. It is an ancient practice evidenced by pictorial and written records from several ancient civilisations across the world. The practice as we know it today owes much to the work of René-Maurice Gattefossé during the 1920’s. He successfully used Lavender essential oil to treat his hand which had developed gangrene after being badly burned in a laboratory explosion. Jean Valnet pioneered the use of oils medicinally during the Second World War. More and more research is being done into essential oils and their therapeutic effects and many of their traditional uses are being re-validated and enhanced by a deeper understanding of the physiological effects of the oil constituents.
Properly used the essential oils can be both safe and balancing. They are always used in carrier oils to an appropriate dilution. Exceptions to this are Ti Tree and Lavender essential oils which can be used neat in small quantities for first aid purposes. A well trained aromatherapist will always put the safety of their patients first. This is why essential oils are not advised at all in the first months of pregnancy and only certain oils with caution are used later in the pregnancy. The same cautions are applied to babies and small children and anyone deemed to have a frail constitution. If you have any doubts about your suitability for aromatherapy please ask for help and we will advise you.