The benefits of aromatherapy massage

One of the main methods of aromatherapy to relieve physical nuisances and emotional stress is massage.
Various massage techniques in combination with the beneficial properties of essential oils  make aromatherapy massage ideal for:
  • pain relief,
  • relaxation of tired and stressed muscles,
  • improvement of blood and  lymph circulation,
  • control of blood pressure,
  • relief of painful menstruation,
  • toxin removal,
  • cellulite prevention and/or removal and improvement of skin texture,
  • relief of intestinal and digestive problems, 
  • strengthening the immune system,
  • stress and anxiety control,
  • strengthening the nervous system,
  • combating negative feelings and
  • general physical and mental revitalization.
Usually the duration of a aromatherapy massage is approximately one hour. This is the time required for the essential oils to enter the body through the skin, activate the necessary chemical reactions and fianlly be removed through our breath, sweat and/or urine. As Valerie Ann Worwood mentions in her extremely interesting book “The Fragrant Mind”, studies show that after a massage with 2% lavender oil the main constituents –  linalol and linalyl acetate – are detected in the blood after just five minutes, they reach their maximum concentration after twenty minutes and after ninety minutes most quantities have been eliminated from the blood.
When you are feeling a nuisance usually two to three aromatherapy massage sessions per week give the maximum results. Everyday massage could not cause a problem, but I believe that a break of 2-3 days between successive sessions allows time to the body to activate and excrete toxic substances without stress. As far as children and elderly are concerned, the duration and frequency of massage should adjust to their particular needs. Usually, more frequent sessions of shorter duration (20-30 minutes) are more suitable for these groups.
Aromatherapy massage has better effects when applied to the whole body. For example, even if only the muscles of one leg feel sore and stressed, massage at the specific leg will cause relief but it can not protect the rest of the body until the problem is totaly solved. It is not evident that in an effort to protect the sore leg the healthy leg will be burdened, as it will carry most of the body weight . This could cause a big burden to the pelvis area, the asymmetry could affect the spine and subsequently lead to numb arms and/or sore neck. Thus, it is important to give our body and soul the care they deserve!
I have mentioned in my older post “Massage on the beach” that choosing a masseur is a serious matter. You should trust your body to a trustworthy person with positive energy and touch compatible to your preference (soft or intense). Moreover, if you want to have an aromatherapy massage in order to treat a specific nuisance make sure that the therapist you have chosen has complete and certified training and deep knowledge of the indications, counter-indications and safe dosage of essential oils.
After an aromatherapy massage you may experience various reactions, such as:
  • intense thirst,
  • more urine, with stronger odor than usually and intense color,
  • intestine activation,
  • gas,
  • sweat with stronger odor than usually,
  • catarrh and mucus,
  • light muscle pain,
  • intense yawning,
  • more energy,
  • talking mood.

The above mentioned reactions are completely normal and indicate that the organism has reacted to the massage, the essential oils have an effect and the detoxification and self healing processes are active. After a massage session it is advisable to drink a glass of water in order to facilitate toxin excretion. You should definitely abstain from smoking and drinking alcohol for at least one day after a massage session!
In some cases massage should be avoided. Those are:

  • persons suffering from phlebitis and/or thrombophlebitis,
  • recently operated patients and persons with a heart condition,
  • acute infections,
  • feverish situations,
  • areas with wounds, blisters, warts, rash, bruises and varicose veins,
  • pregnant women with abortion history,
  • cancer patients.

Caution is also required when massaging people suffering from osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes and epilepsy, especially when essential oils are used. You can read about the counter-indications of essential oils here. A general rule is that if you have a health condition you should always consult your doctor prior to indulging to the pleasure of a massage.
When aromatherapy massage is applied to children and elderly people it should be gentle and soft, almost like a caress. The dosage of essential oils used for these groups is usually half of the drops given in the recipes. Massage can and should be applied to babies. You can find directions and advice in my post “Baby massage, while special techniques have evolved for pregnant women.
Reading all the above you may get the impression that a aromatherapy massage is something very complicated. If no acute or chronic health problem is present, if you follow suggested advice and directions for safe use of essential oils then there is no need to worry and forfeit the benefits and satisfaction that a massage can offer – to the masseur and the client. However you should always keep in mind that no massage treatment can replace medical  diagnosis and cure.
Many massage methods exist (thai, shiatsu, swedish, refelxology etc.). You can find a short description of the 30 more common methods here.
The following video shows a massage technique which I consider very completed and effective, specially if combined with essential oils. In fact it is very similar to the one I was tought and apply.

If you are interested in learning more about the art of massage you will find a rich selection of books with useful advise, informative directions and illustrative images concerning massage of adults (therapeutic and sensual), babies and children and pregnant women in AromaTherapy Cosmos Shop. Also, the dvd I have gathered with effective massage techniques for adults (therapeutic and sensual), pregnant women, babies and children will be very helpful as well as the prepared massage oil blends.
When a massage is done for aesthetic reasons – that is mainly for cellulite removal – you could use a variety of appliances (simple, electric, ultrasound) to make your life easier, specially when you are massaging your own hips. But I personally believe that massage given by a pair of hands has multiple benefits. The therapist feels better the problematic areas, he/she can achieve better discernment of the essential oils used and transmits to the client energy and vital heat. The power of human touch and the interaction between two persons during a massage session can not be substituted by a machine!
Apart from being relaxing and soothing, a aromatherapy massage can become sensual and erotic if the rythm of movements and the intension of strokes change.
You can use the following recipes from the book “The Aromatherapy Bible” by Gill Farrer Halls for effective and enjoyable massage.

Relaxation and calmness
20 ml almond oil or any other blending oil
3 drops essential oil german chamomile
5 drops essential oil lavender
4 drops essential oil bergamot

Sensuality and erotic mood
20 ml almond oil or any other blending oil

5 drops essential oil rose
4 drops essential oil sandalwood
3 drops essential oil patchouli

Muscular pain and stiffness
20 ml almond oil or any other blending oil
4 drops essential oil rosemary
4 drops essential oil lavender
4 drops essential oil marjoram

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