Aromatherapy Massage: An Introduction

Who knew that you could enhance the therapeutic, transformative, and energizing properties of a stellar full-body massage with the addition of something so simple as highly-concentrated plant oils?

These “essential oils” are the foundation of all aromatherapy, and when combined with a classic massage, they deliver the ultimate relaxing spa-like experience.

Aromatherapy candles next to brown coasters

Aromatherapy candles can really enhance your massage experience (Photo credit: Horia Varlan)

Essential oils are derived from the flowers, seeds, leaves, bark, pollen, and fruits of specific plants and they can be combined in creative ways that yield fragrances that are not only delicious to the olfactory senses, but also have some recorded curative properties, especially with regards to improving mood and sense of well-being. Conservative numbers suggest that there are 400 known essential oils not counting mixtures, and around 40 of those are commonly used in aromatherapy sessions.

For aromatherapy massages, the essential oils are commonly mixed with a “carrier oil” such as almond oil or flax seed oil. This allows it to easily be applied to the skin and kneaded into the pores. Aromatherapy can also be delivered by diffusing heat over the oils and inhaling the aromas. And of course, different aromatherapy mixtures have different effects on the body. A mixture of lavender and honey, or perhaps bergamot and chamomile oils will relax you and bring you to a state of total comfort, for example, and a mixture of something more stimulating like peppermint, tea tree, rosemary, and eucalyptus will help sooth sore muscles and loosen up tension points. Evidence suggests that these aromas can even stimulate your immune system into working harder, making you healthier overall.

A specially created massage combining techniqu...

Essential oils can be absorbed through the skin and carried to the muscle tissues, joints and organs to relieve tension and relax your mind. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How does it do all this?

Your nostrils and your olfactory glands are connected to the limbic system, a center of your brain that is responsible for regulating emotions and feelings of security. When you inhale invigorating essential oils, messages are sent to your limbic system that relax your brain and make you feel safe and comfortable. These emotions will affect your heart rate, anxiety levels, blood pressure, breathing, memory, and digestion, to name just a few.

When you pair the innately relaxing limbic effects of aromatherapy with a thorough full-body massage using a great massage chair, your body will be completely pampered and relaxed, and you will feel more invigorated and rested than you likely have in a very long time.

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