By: Vik Wiggins
What is aromatherapy? Our sense of smell is a powerful and evocative sense that can induce anything from comfort to disgust. This is because we have receptors in the nasal passage that is directly connected to the limbic system (home to what is colloquially called the primitive/reptilian brain) of the brain which controls emotions, behavior, hormone production and more. Aromatherapy utilizes the concentrated scents of natural essential oils to stimulate the limbic system to produce a variety of effects in the mind and body. Aromatherapy can be used in a variety of ways. Most frequently, essential oils are combined with lotions, oils, cleansing soaps, and various mediums to utilize aromatherapy in tandem with other therapies or practices, such as massage. Aromatherapy can also be used more directly as an aerosol. This is typically achieved through steam, diffusers, incense and candles.
What is aromatherapy typically used for? While more research is needed in western medicine of the objective benefits of aromatherapy, it has been used for thousands of years in various medical/healing practices across a variety of cultures. Some disciplines attune scent to ailment, to the body's elemental nature and other practices. Some scents and oils are considered to be heating or cooling, stimulating or inhibiting. These oils are then used to treat a variety of symptoms or ailments. Whatever the discipline, anectodical evidence suggests that essential oils and aromatherapy can be helpful in reducing not just mental stress, but the physical effects of stress on the body such as releasing muscle tension. Aromatherapy has been used to stimulate digestion, strengthen the immune system, reduce the effects of migraines/headaches, improve alertness/attentiveness, assist with overcoming traumatic experiences and many other ailments. These effects are believed to be a result of how the limbic system internalizes and responds to the scent of various oils and herbs. These responses can be measured in changes to heart rate, blood pressure, changes in breathing and self reported reductions of stress.
Aromatherapy and Massage While neither massage or aromatherapy require the other to be effective, the combination of these practices is believed to elevate and enhance their potential benefits. In addition, the use of aromatherapy with massage is complimentary in practice as essential oils can be blended with the oils and lotions commonly used in massage. At Ideal Massage we include aromatherapy as an optional complimentary addition to any service of 30 minutes or longer. While essential oils can be beneficial, they can be harmful or interfere with medications when used incorrectly. To minimize risk, we utilize a simple and natural homemade aerosol for a cold application of aromatherapy. We utilize the various scents on wash clothes to control the intensity of the scent without the risk of multiple sessions causing an unpleasant blending of intense aromatherapy that some may find overwhelming. This allows us to customize our aromatherapy for each client without negatively impacting the next client. In addition, we sell our aerosol and pure essential oils and blends for home use. This allows for my diverse uses of aromatherapy in everyday life.
Disclaimer: This post was written by Vik Wiggins, a staff member of Ideal Massage as a Administrative Manager. Vik is not a Licensed Massage Therapist or doctor and was paid for the creation of this content. The opinions in this blog are not a representation of the opinions or beliefs of Ideal Massage and it's owners. If you have questions or concerns regarding medical treatments or ailments, please speak with your doctor.