|Aromatherapy is not complicated. It
is simply the use of essential oils and other plant
extracts as part of a therapeutic session.
As with so many other subjects in the massage therapy and body work world, aromatherapy has its adherents and its critics...both of which tend to be adamant in their positions. While extravagant claims of curing disease, and other impossible results, are almost certainly overstated, aromatherapy does have some unquestionable and demonstrated benefits.
There seems to be no doubt that certain scents do help to create a pleasurable atmosphere during a massage therapy session.
Since the basic goal of massage is to enhance the well-being of the recipient, this is a value, although maybe a bit hard to quantify or prove scientifically.
As part of creating the ambiance for a relaxing, soothing massage, there are several options available for those who want to make use of scents and aromas during a session.
Basil is one very popular choice, owing to its sweet, mildly spicy odor. Its use should be avoided when
the client is pregnant (basil contains emmenagogues
that can be harmful to those who are sensitive), but it offers a delightful scent.
Bergamot is another that, in the
form of an essential oil, makes for a pleasant aroma. Those who enjoy Earl Gray tea
will be familiar with the scent, but as part of aromatherapy it is more
concentrated. As it happens, it is also an effective, natural
insect repellent and also can be useful for helping to improve the
Citronella, another oil commonly
used to ward off mosquitoes, has a use as a pleasant lemon grass odor that makes the session area a relaxing place to be. As such,
it adds to the use of effleurage
techniques that deliver a relaxing, stress-relieving massage.
Lavender oil is often preferred by
women who seem to find the delicate scent the perfect adjunct to a slow, healthful sports massage. Working the long muscles while inhaling
this flowery aroma can encourage a drowsy state that puts the client into a peaceful frame of mind.
Male clients sometimes find the pungent scent of clove
oil a welcome adjunct to a vigorous, deep
tissue session. After a long workout at the gym, a good massage that loosens all those knotty muscles can be just what the
therapist calls for.
Sandalwood is another commonly
used scent in aromatherapy sessions. The odor is reminiscent
of the beach or forest and, as with many scents, works by association. Incorporating pleasant mental images into the session often helps the
client relax, making the massage
more pleaurable for both recipient and
It's always important that the massage
therapist who employs scents as part of the overall experience seek client input. Scents are very individual and the goal is to enhance the session, to put the client into a good frame
of mind during and after. Not only is the specific aroma used important, but the concentration should be adjusted to personal taste