The Magic of Aromatherapy Massage

Have you ever decided to treat yourself to a professional massage, hoping for a relaxing, soothing, or pain relieving experience? Did the therapist offer the addition of essential oils in hopes of an enhanced massage experience? While it may be appealing to bring in varying scents to your professional treatment, the benefits don’t stop there. The inclusion of essential oils in massages has the potential to take your tailored massage treatment far beyond levels of pleasant scents. 


Aromatherapy massage, or aromatic massage, has been a staple in natural medicine for just about as long as plants and humans have been intertwined. Massage is a widely utilized and accepted method of intake for essential oils, as they are able to effectively penetrate through the skin. Through multiple studies, it has been confirmed that, “The active ingredients of essential oil of lavender can quickly be absorbed through skin and their sedative, antidepressant, and muscular relaxant effects, as well as their positive effects on the quality of sleep and feeling of wellbeing have been shown” (Gedney et al., 2004; Ejder Apay et al., 2012).  Not only do essential oils fill the treatment room with a beautiful aroma, but an essential oil blend has the power to bring the already transformative healing experience of massage to an even deeper level. 


As you may know, essential oils administered via inhalation are able to pass the blood brain barrier, therefore having a direct affect on the central nervous system and mood. Passing into the blood brain barrier is a big accomplishment for any molecule, as the majority of substances, including most medicines, are unable to successfully penetrate the blood brain barrier. Essential oils therefore have a direct effect on the central nervous system, and can act as powerful, mood altering substances. Inhalation of essential oils has shown to relieve depression in several studies, although this is a long discussion that will have to be the topic of another blog post! Aromatherapy massage & topical application of essential oils can target both physical, and emotional needs and impact the state of mind of both the client & practitioner. 


Here are some of the potential benefits of massage / aromatherapy massage:


Physical

Emotional

Pain relief

Relaxation / self care routine 

Supporting healthy healing for injury 

Anti-anxiety 

Anti-inflammatory

Antidepressant 

Adrenal support 

Burn-out from workload & over stimulation 

Aids in circulation 

Overcoming emotional trauma 

Support healing in skin conditions 


Some essential oils and their constituents have also been studied for their analgesic (pain relieving) properties. A well known example menthol, a component which is naturally present in mint species. Although menthol is present in peppermint essential oil in a range of 29-46%, it is commonly isolated as an ingredient in the food, flavor, cosmetic or medical industry. Menthol is an active ingredient in popular topical applications like IcyHot & BioFreeze. One might be surprised to realize how often compounds that occur naturally in botanical extracts are isolated to be used as single-molecule drugs or ingredients. The word synergy means a lot to aromatherapists, cannabis formulators and really anyone working with whole-plant extracts. In this context, synergy is the theory that plant extracts and their naturally occurring components work together to create a healing effect which is greater than the sum of its individual parts. (In other words, isolates can be effective, but not as effective as whole-plant extracts and essential oils). 


Marguerite Maury, a true pioneer of aromatherapy, is credited for not only the theory of the IP, or Individual Prescription (of essential oils), but also for recognizing & studying the potential of aromatherapy massage. Maury spoke about how an essential oil blend should not only enhance the strengths of the individual, but support their weaknesses. A true philosopher as well as scientist, Maury concludes, “For man is made of matter, soul and mind, they are infinitely bound together; they interpenetrate and they are only separated by death.” Not only does the mind reflect the body, but the body reflects the mind, as they harmoniously exist together as one. Therefore, it is imperative to continuously aim to heal the body as well as the mind, to overcome and begin to understand our emotional afflictions. As we can see, these things can be influenced directly through aromatics & massage. 


Getting a massage with an essential oil blend formulated for your specific needs can be life changing. Some massage therapists might also provide their own favorite blend or pre-infused massage oil. They may even allow you to bring your own oil for a massage- just make sure to ask first! (Especially if it contains any cannabinoids.) 

What is your favorite essential oil, or blend for massage? 

Bibliography

Bilican, Özlü ZK,. EFFECTS OF AROMATHERAPY MASSAGE ON THE SLEEP QUALITY AND PHYSIOLOGICAL PARAMETERS OF PATIENTS IN A SURGICAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med., 2017.

Maury, Marguerite. The Secret of Life and Youth. C.W Daniel Company, 1964.

 

Please note that this information is provided for educational purposes only, and is not intended to be medical advice. 

 

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