The addition of essential oil can enhance your overall massage therapy. Aromatherapy massage is perfect for someone looking for a more intense sensory experience.
The healing properties of such oils are believed to be absorbed through the skin, so it’s important to make sure only pure essential oils are being used because synthetic, fragrance oils do not have the same health benefits. Additionally, essential oils need to be diluted with what is known as a pure carrier oil, such as jojoba, olive, or coconut. A carrier oil is important because most essential oils are extremely strong, and can possibly sting the skin, especially the citrus varieties. These carrier oils benefit the skin on another level because they contain specific vitamins and minerals that moisturize and nourish skin.
Most oils used equally promote relaxation, ease tense muscles and joints, improve circulation, and energize one’s mood. Picking an oil to match your needs is something a good practitioner can go over with you, in order to pinpoint your specific desires. Most popular for calming the mind, stress reduction, and restful sleep are lavender and chamomile, which interestingly have similar benefits when ingested as a tea. Among the energizing oils are orange, ylang ylang, and rosemary. Uplifting oils include lemongrass and grapefruit.
This type of massage is less about deep tissue work and more about relaxation, sensory stimulation, and soothing touch. Many artists find it to be quite inspiring, and busy people everywhere can benefit from its calming, de-stressing effects. Although any massage can be later enhanced post-visit with continued mindfulness, aromatherapy massage lends itself particularly well to meditation, guided imagery, abdominal or belly breathing, or a long walk in nature.
Other post-therapy self-soothing suggestions also include journaling, dancing, burning scented candles or incense (to continue the olfactory stimulation), drinking nourishing beverages such as herbal tea or fresh juice or fruit smoothies, sensory deprivation tanks, listening to soothing or uplifting music, making art, reading a good novel or poetry, using a hot tub or sauna, getting a hug from a loved one, or preparing and consuming healthy/whole foods to prolong the nourishment of your body as long as possible. Basically, think of it as sensory layering and do anything that helps you feel positive and healthy.
Another helpful tip for any type of massage, but especially this method, is to prep for the massage—when time allows—by incorporating the above post-massage techniques. This will make the most of your time and money. Additionally, it is helpful to know that some therapists with smaller practices run from their own homes will sometimes even draw a hot bath with essential oils and/or Epsom salts prior to the massage, as it loosens up the joints and tense muscles, making the techniques even more effective. This can clearly be done in your own home prior to a massage visit as well. The idea is to get the most out of your experience and prolong it as much as possible.
Commonly Used Aromatherapy Oils and Their Claimed Effects
- Very fresh and clean aroma that help open airways
- Natural antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory effects
- Used for respiratory problems such as colds, coughs, asthma, and congestion
- Help relieve muscle pain and mental exhaustion
- Used as antiseptics and pain reliever
- Help heal minor wounds and burns
- Fresh floral scent with a dash of sweetness and herby aroma
- Calming and anti anxiety effects
- Uplifting, anti-stress and anti-depressant
- Enhance mood, and help with relaxation
- Increase concentration
- Very stimulating yet soothing aroma
- Arousing mental sharpness
- Used to relieve congestion, headaches, digestive problems, and soothe muscle aches
Tea Tree oil
- Astringent properties
- Great for alleviating oily skin
- Soothes minor wounds without irritation
Ylang Ylang oil
- Slow down rapid heartbeat and breathing
- Anti anxiety, antidepressant, aphrodisiac and a sedative effects
- May help to reduce high blood pressure
Other Essential Oils and Their Claimed Effects
(Some herbs are also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Japanese Kampo)
- Antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, galactagogue, stimulant
- Analgesic, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, anti-bacterial, decongestant, diuretic, expectorant, rubefacient, vasodilator
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
- Antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, digestive, insecticidal, stimulant
Clove Bud (Eugenia caryophyllata)
- Analgesic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, disinfectant, insecticidal
- Antiseptic, antispasmodic, detoxifier, diuretic, insecticidal, stimulant, stomachic
- Analgesic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, astringent, carminative, digestive, stimulant
- anti-anxiety, antibacterial, antidepressant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, cytophylactic, tissue stimulant
- antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antiviral, astringent, expectorant
Mandarin, red (Citrus reticulata)
- antiseptic, antispasmodic, calming, digestive stimulant, sedative, uplifting,
Orange, bitter (Citrus aurantium)
- Antidepressant, antispasmodic, lymph stimulator, mildly sedative, stomachic, antidepressant, antispasmodic, lymph stimulator, mildly sedative, stomachic
Characteristics of Aromatherapy