Aromatherapy and Massage is like Ice Cream on Your Apple Pie
Aromatherapy with massage therapy is like ice cream on your apple pie; they go perfectly together. The same is true of massage and aromatherapy. The naturally occurring phyto-chemicals in essential oils are so yummy smelling and good for you that having a massage with them makes perfect sense. Essential oils are what make aromatherapy fragrant as well as therapeutic. In fact, they go together so well, that I will continue to refer to them as aromatic massage therapy or AMT. As a matter of course, I offer unscented options for those who may have specific reasons to avoid them, but for those of you who don’t, for those of you who ponder whether to use essential oils or not, here are five great reasons to choose to have ice cream on your apple pie.
1. It’s Relaxing! Essential oils are responsible for the fragrances that stimulate the Limbic System of our brains. This portion of our brain associates smells with memory. Pleasant smells can bring about pleasant memories and pleasant memories can be powerful in assisting you to relax. For example, lavender can recall pleasant memories of the French countryside.
2. It’s Natural! So what, why is natural good? Essential oils are therapeutic in a whole food kind of way. The whole balanced distillation, blended into base oil or diffused into the air, permeates the skin to enter the blood stream. Rather than being depleting, in my opinion, they are nourishing. They are not multiplied synthetic extractions that the body must tolerate and recover from, but whole plant distillations. That’s a concept I can really get behind!
3. It’s Fun! The chemical makeup of essential oils is so complex and diverse that your massage therapist has tons of options of wonderful fragrances to enchant you with. There is as much variation in scent due to differences in location, harvest time and the distillation process as there is in wines, for the same reasons. You can look forward to the fragrance of a high grade, complex lavender oil with many notes within the aroma, as you would look forward to a fine cabernet.
4. It’s Therapeutic! In addition to being holistic, Aromatic Massage Therapy (AMT) utilizes at least three other wonderfully powerful healing philosophies: preventative, palliative and allopathic. For example, studies show that decreasing stress boosts our immunity and since many essential oils, such as lavender, can assist the massage session in bringing about the Relaxation Response, AMT may be considered preventative. Many essential oils contain chemical compounds, such as camphor, that help alleviate symptoms, such as pain, while you find ways to eliminate underlying causes, making AMT palliative. Components of essential oils such as rosemary (a rubefacient) assist the body in setting up a healing environment by stimulating circulation to injured areas, thereby inducing a reaction that is antagonistic to the condition. This is by definition allopathic.
5. It’s Chemistry! Naturally occurring phyto-chemicals from essential oils are chemical compounds none-the-less and have therapeutic as well as aromatic value. They are made up of compounds that are small enough to pass through the skin barrier, into the bloodstream to work their magic. The eugenol, found in clove oil for example, is used in the dental industry to kill pain.
Be aware that there is no such thing as an aromatherapy license, at the moment, in the United States. Therefore, a licensed health care professional, in a related field such as massage therapy, with extra classes under their belt in aromatherapy and perhaps organic chemistry, is your best source for a positive aromatherapy experience.
So, if you couldn’t quite pinpoint it, but knew it instinctively, I applaud you: aromatherapy with massage therapy is like ice cream on your apple pie. Aromatic massage with essential oils is so luscious smelling and good for you that having a massage with them makes perfect sense. So feel free to have ice cream on your apple pie.