Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils for therapeutic or medical purposes. Essential oils are basically plant extracts. They’re made by steaming or pressing various parts of a plant (flowers, bark, leaves or fruit) to capture the compounds that produce fragrance. It can take several pounds of a plant to produce a single bottle of essential oil. Examples include lavender, orange and bergamot, and eucalyptus. These “aromas” are all plant-based derivatives from herbs, tree extracts, and flowers.
During Aromatherapy massage sessions, the essential oils can be used one of two ways: scent and skin absorption.
Essential oils are extremely concentrated so to be used correctly they should be diluted into milder oils, humidifiers, or lotions. We use fractionated coconut oil as a carrier oil for our aromatherapy massages.
The overall purpose of aromatherapy is meant to improve your physical and mental well-being. You can choose your preferred scent to be used in the massage session, either applied directly to your skin, or diffused or both!
There are dozens of essential oils, all with different fragrances and chemical makeup. Which essential oils are best depends on what symptoms you’re looking to ease or fragrances you prefer.
Some of the most popular essential oils for aromatherapy include:
- Lavender oil: Many people find the lavender scent relaxing. It’s often used to help relieve stress and anxiety and promote good sleep.
- Tea tree oil: Also called melaleuca, this essential oil was used by Australia’s aboriginal people for wound healing. Today, it’s commonly used for acne, athlete’s foot and insect bites.
- Peppermint oil: There’s some evidence that peppermint essential oil helps relieve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms when taken in an enteric-coated capsule (from a trusted health supplement provider). It may also relieve tension headaches when applied topically.
- Lemon oil: Many people find the citrusy scent of lemon oil a mood booster. It’s also often used in homemade cleaning products.
According to the NCCIH, stimulating oils to boost mood have been found effective in some studies. Examples of these include lemon, orange, and tangerine. Another study looked at the effects of chamomile and massage therapy for anxiety relief. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI)Trusted Source, the results showed a greater decrease in anxiety symptoms after massages with chamomile versus massage without aromatherapy.
Overall, the NCI notes that aromatherapy has shown benefits for the following uses: • anxiety • depression • insomnia • nausea • pain
There are generally few risks associated with aromatherapy massage. One consideration is possible sensitivity to the essential oils used during your session. If you’re unsure about a particular oil, you can test for sensitivity by applying a small amount of the diluted solution on your arm before using it during a full body session.