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Aromatherapy can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences (essential oils) from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. Essential oils are most commonly used via topical application and/or inhalation. Apart from providing a pleasant smell, aromatherapy may provide physical, as well as psychological benefits.
Topical applications of (diluted) essentials oil are absorbed through the skin. Massaging the area where the oil is to be applied can boost circulation and increase absorption. Inhaling essential oils stimulates the olfactory system (the part of the brain connected to smell). Molecules that enter the nose or mouth pass to the lungs, and from there, to other parts of the body. The limbic system is affected as the molecules reach the brain. The limbic system helps control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress, and hormone balance, as well as our emotions. By affecting the limbic system, essential oils can have a subtle, yet holistic effect on the body.
Because essential oils are all-natural, one could assume that they're gentle and nonreactive. Actually, the opposite is true! Essential oils are extremely concentrated and potent. On average, essential oils are up to 75 times more powerful than dried herbs! Essential oils and aromatherapy do not provide a cure for diseases, rashes or illnesses, but they can support conventional treatment of various conditions and are considered a complementary therapy. Every essential oil has a different chemical composition, and therefore, different properties. Some issues essential oils may help with are:
More scientific research is needed on essential oils. Though the research is still somewhat scarce, scientists are conducting controlled human trials. Based on recent research, many hospitals and clinics now use essential oils for relief from stress, pain and nausea, and even to prevent bedsores! One recent study of 300 patients found that those who breathed a mixture of ginger, spearmint, peppermint, and cardamom had much less nausea after surgery. Other research shows that lavender oil can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and inhaling lemongrass aroma before a stressful event can prevent anxiety. Studies also show that tea tree and oregano oils can fight microbes, making them popular treatments for dandruff and toe fungus. Dozens of essential oils have anti-inflammatory and/or anti-microbial properties. The University of Minnesota states, “Although essential oils have been used therapeutically for centuries, there is little published research on many of them. However, this is beginning to change as more scientific studies on essential oils are conducted around the world. Clinical studies are currently under way in Europe, Australia, Japan, India, the United States, and Canada. Many of these studies describe the remarkable healing properties of various oils.” Their website provides a great reference list of some of the research conducted so far.
Ask your massage therapist to add essential oils to the massage lotion! We use Harmony Naturals (our own brand!) 100% pure essential oils and blends. Choose from our blend-able single notes: lavender, sweet orange, eucalyptus, peppermint, and cedarwood or expertly-crafted blends: Sweet Dreams, Spazless, Mellow Yellow, or Nose-tradamus. You can also try out one of our handmade pain-relieving creams!
Many massage therapy studios “upcharge” more than the cost of a whole bottle of essential oil for just a few drops! We think that is silly and dishonest. Aromatherapy may be added to any massage at NO additional cost.