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About Aromatherapy Massage
What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is often associated with holistic healing. It is a treatment that uses the essential oils extracted from plants to foster enhanced well-being. An all-natural treatment process, aromatherapy is frequently used in massage and other therapies to add another beneficial layer to the experience. Some might refer to aromatherapy as essential oil therapy. Whichever name you call it, it has positive effects on both the body and the mind. Increasingly aromatherapy is being seen as a viable part of holistic treatment.

What is the history of aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy treatments have been around for thousands of years. Ancient cultures such as those in India and Egypt, for example, integrated the use of plant oils and extracts into medicines to treat a wide array of afflictions and disorders. The plant extracts and subsequent balms made from these were touted to have healing properties used in helping people who were suffering from a variety of health-related issues.

Natural botanicals have been used for centuries for addressing medical problems. Many cite 10th century Persia as leading where essential oils are concerned. However, some argue that extracting oils from plants was around long before this. By the 16th century, treatment using these oils was widespread throughout Europe, and in 19th France, doctors were heralding the potential of plant extracts for curing diseases. Granted, the 19th century also saw a transition to more common medical drug-based practices. Yet, the use of plant extracts never completely went out of favor—especially in holistic approaches.

Chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé first coined the actual term aromatherapy in the 1930s. His claim to fame was finding out that lavender could be beneficial for burn treatment. Gattefossé wrote a book covering the uses of essential oils in various medical capacities.

How does aromatherapy treatment work?

Aromatherapy involves using essential oils via smell and, in some cases, absorption through the skin. The transmission of the oil comes in a few different forms. For example, therapists may use diffusers; essential oils may also be transmitted/absorbed via bathing salts, inhalers, body oils and creams, facial steamers, compresses, masks, and spritzers, among other practices. Many times, the above are used in combination. They are also used frequently in combination with various spa treatments. So, for example, during a massage, aromatherapy may be integrated as part of the massage package. Also, essential oils can be used during facials, body wraps, and other treatments of this nature.

There are hundreds of essential oils available. Some are more popularly used than others. Essential oils used in aromatherapy can be purchased from various places, including online stores, health food stores, and some more common supermarkets/stores. Of course, spas also provide essential oils during different treatments; often, you can buy the oils used directly from the spa.

Essential oils, as noted, have been touted for their healing properties. They have an incredibly soothing effect, and when combining certain fats, the effect can be even more intense and effective.

What are some aromatherapy benefits?

Aromatherapy has numerous benefits, both physical and mental/psychological.

Among the more common benefits cited:

  • Pain management
  • Improved sleep
  • Stress reduction
  • Treatment of headaches
  • Treating sore joints and muscles
  • Helping to fight certain bacteria
  • Improved digestion
  • Boosts immunity

There is also some suggestion (though no scientific evidence yet) that aromatherapy might also help treat Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and heart disease. Again, further potential applications for aromatherapy may be the treatment of asthma, fatigue, inflammation, insomnia, menstrual problems, ED, alopecia, some cancers, and menopause, among a host of other issues.

What are the most popular aromatherapy oils?

Again, there are hundreds of essential oils out there used for various reasons and treatments. Some oils are more popularly used than others; these include sage, cypress, eucalyptus, geranium, ginger, lavender, lemongrass, and mandarin patchouli, peppermint, tea tee, rose, rosemary, chamomile, vetiver, among others.

These oils can be used in several applications and ways. Diffusers are pretty popular; also, many people will use these essential oils in body oils and lotions. Some people will even put oils in shampoos, toothpaste, bath soaps, and liquid soap.

How to find an aromatherapy massage provider?

A certified therapist, with knowledge of essentail oils and their benefits should perform aromatherapy in association with a spa treatment. Before aromatherapy, you will consult with the therapist regarding any issues, anything you want specifically addressed, and any other considerations that may be relevant to treatment. Spas are an excellent resource for finding trained aromatherapists.

You will generally talk about lifestyle and health considerations during any consultation with an aromatherapy professional. After talking about your expectations and goals, the therapist will determine the best treatment options, oils, and practices to maximize the benefits of aromatherapy for you. The great thing about this type of treatment is that there is so much variety involved in the oils used; the treatments are specifically designed for each client. People often benefit from ongoing aromatherapy sessions, especially where stress alleviation and relaxation promotion are concerned.

If there are any medical concerns you might have, it is essential to discuss these with the therapist. If you are uncertain about any health considerations, always talk to your physician first.

Are there side effects with aromatherapy?

Side effects tend to be quite rare with the use of aromatherapy. However, it is essential to take note of any changes you might experience following an aromatherapy session. And if you are on any medications, it is necessary to talk to your doctor before receiving aromatherapy treatment to ensure that the essential oils do not affect the drugs you are taking.

An aromatherapist understands that you should never apply essential oils directly to the skin. When using essential oils at home, you must keep this in mind. Carrier oils are most often used to dilute the essential oils and make them suitable for applying to the skin's surface. Many suggest that you do a "patch test" before using the essential oils more comprehensively.

Some of the side effects that have been noted include:

  • rashes
  • headaches
  • various types of allergic reactions
  • skin irritation/redness
  • nausea

For those who experience the following or are afflicted by the following conditions, it is best to use essential oils cautiously and even recommend that you speak to your physician first: psoriasis, asthma, high blood pressure, and epilepsy.

Using essential oils can be highly beneficial—both from a physical standpoint and a mental/emotional one. This is why so many spa treatments incorporate aromatherapy. Keep in mind that just using Lavender for the scent isn't the best use of this practice. An aromatherapist will know which oils to use to help your specific issues. How the oils are used and how they are disbursed can affect the overall impact. If you are uncertain about any aspect of aromatherapy, talk to the therapist first and feel free to discuss your questions openly.