Aromatherapy with your massage therapy is like having ice cream with your apple pie; they go perfectly together. Aromatherapy can come in the form of individual essential oils diffused into the air or essential oils blended into carrier oils. The naturally occurring phyto-chemicals in essential oils are so yummy smelling and good for you that having a massage with a massage oil formulated with fragrant essential oils, makes aromatherapy the perfect topping to your massage experience. Essential oils are what give Touch Fitness aromatherapy massage therapy oil blends their unique fragrance as well as their therapeutic value. Each massage oil is formulated for therapeutic effect, based on research and for fragrant effect.
As a matter of best practices, I offer unscented options for those who may have specific reasons to avoid them, but for those 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 with your apple pie.
- It smells great! Imagine smelling roses while you’re having your massage and immediately you are in a botanical garden. It’s instantly transporting.
- It makes you breath more fully! It naturally encourages deep and therapeutic breaths which support relaxation, circulation and oxygenation of the body’s cells. I notice that smelling even just a little peppermint in the air has my clients instantly and instinctively breathing deeper.
- It’s Relaxing! Fragrant aromatic components in essential oils (called volatiles) are responsible for stimulating 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. But also, lavender is considered to have sedative and anti-anxiety effects because of their chemical constituents; linalool and linalyl acetate, inhaled and applied topically. This is supported by studies including: (Buchbauer et al.1991 and 1993). (Itai et al. 2000, Shen et al. 2005b, Hwang 2006, Shen et al. 2007, Field et al. 2008, Toda et al. 2008, Hoya et al. 2008, Linck et al. 2009, Woelk and Schläfke 2010).
- 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, enters the blood stream, from there it is disseminated through the body’s systems. Rather than being depleting, in my opinion, they are nourishing. They are not multiplied synthetic extractions in such high concentrations that the body must tolerate, rid themselves of and recover from, but whole plant distillations which the body can use holisically.
- 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, and 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.
- It’s Therapeutic! In addition to being holistic, Aromatherapy or 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.
- It’s Chemistry! Naturally occurring phytochemicals in essential oils are chemical compounds which give them their fragrance. Lemon smells like lemon because of its chemical components d-limonene and the aldehyde geranial. But the monoterpene d-limonene has various possibilities for therapeutic value including: activating white blood cells, having an analgesic (pain killing) effect, being antibacterial, having an immunostimulant effect and being a skin penetration enhancer (helping the oils get through the skin layer). So, they are chemicals, but if they are respected and used with care and training, then we can take advantage of their therapeutic as well as aromatic value.
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, nursing or mental health, with extra classes under their belt in the safe and effective use of 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 with your apple pie. Aromatic massage with essential oils can be so luscious smelling and good for you that having a massage with aromatic massage oil makes perfect sense. So, feel free to have some ice cream with your apple pie.
Updated January 4, 2022