- Karen Stoner, LMT
Massage Tips and Trivia: Aromatherapy is frequently used with massage to enhance it's benefits
"Aromatherapy is frequently used in conjunction with massage to enhance the massage's benefits and out comes"
You may have heard of the term 'Aromatherapy' but what exactly is it? Breaking down the name, "Aroma" means smell" and "Therapy" is something that makes you better so in a sense, Aromatherapy is helping your body feel better through the use of scents. There are many applications for aromatherapy, but the most commonly known form is through using Essential Oils. Essential Oils are taken directly from plants, so the oils retain the medicinal and healing benefits of the plants themselves. Those Essential Oils are then used in a multitude of ways to deliver the plant oils and their benefits to our bodies.
There are many ways essential oils are used for aromatherapy. The most common are Diffusion - which is when the scent of the oil is dispersed into the air or put on something that makes the room smell, or Topically - which means it is applied directly to the skin. Massage can integrate both of these methods, which makes aromatherapy and massage great allies. Through Diffusion, the therapist can have a diffuser or oil burner going in the room to use the scents, and topically, the oils are mixed with the massage lotion or cream to be used during the massage - not only making the lotion smell nice, but also delivering the oils' benefits right to the skin.
But the benefits of aromatherapy go way beyond just making things smell nice. Since the oils are derived from plants, the benefits of those plants, and that can enhance the goals of the massage. For example, if someone wants to relax and may have trouble sleeping, aromatherapy with lavender and chamomile may be used because those plants have been shown to calm the system down. For something more rejuvenating like an athlete getting a quick massage before competing, citrus and peppermint oils can "wake up" the system and stimulate it to be alert and aware, and work well. If sinuses are clogged and feeling junky, Eucalyptus and Rosemary can open up breathing. Peppermint and Eucalyptus may also be useful with inflammation and healing of injured muscles and joints.
The key to aromatherapy working is the quality of the oils being used. That is why only essential oils, or plant-based products should be used for aromatherapy, not the "fragrance oils" found in many craft stores that are used in some lotions, soaps, and candles. Aromatherapy has many benefits, but isn't a complete cure-all. and shouldn't be used in place of sound medical advice, but it can be another useful tool to help with overall health and well-being.