The stimulating action of the essential oils when brought together with the revitalising effects of massage, combine to promote a feeling of relaxation and well being.
Essential oils enter the body by inhalation and by absorption through the skin. They affect our body system in three ways - pharmalogically, physiologically and psychologically: Once inhaled, aromatic signals are sent to the part of the brain where they exert a direct effect on the mind and emotions. The chemical constituents of the oils are carried in the bloodstream to all areas of the body, where they react with chemistry in a way similar to drugs. Some essential oils increase the circulation to help with the efficient elimination of toxins, others promote new cell growth and encourage the body's natural ability to heal itself.
When essential oils are used in bath or body products, the oils are absorbed through the skin and into the nervous and muscular systems for a restorative effect.
Aromatherapy works in two ways:
1. By skin application (i.e. massage, ointments, creams, lotions, compresses, etc.):
During the course of treatment, a certain amount of the essential oils is absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. The power of penetration is great; the time of absorption may be between 20 to 70 minutes.
Each essential oil has unique properties that can be used to stimulate physical processes such as elimination, circulation, and digestion or to ease muscular tension, aches, pains, etc.
Aromatherapy works on the simple basic principle of enjoying the fragrance. If the fragrance is disliked the treatment will not be beneficial. It combines the feel good aspect along with the therapeutic aspect.
The essential oils along with having a therapeutic effect on the physical body, also have different effects on the psychological and spiritual self. They help in curing the mind, body soul thus making it a holistic form of healing.
2. By inhalation (i.e. bath, steam inhalation, valorization, personal perfumes, shower gel, room spray, etc.):
Essential oils are highly volatile and so they can also enter the bloodstream through the lungs when breathed in.
The fragrance of essential oils, like any other smell, affects our olfactory sense (sense of smell) - the stimulus is received by the region of the brain associated with emotional response and mood change. Essential oils have been observed to trigger favourable emotional response, which usually contrast with the way the individual felt previously.
Breathing in the intense aromas of essential oils is often recommended for easing congestion due to colds, flu, or chronic sinusitis or bronchitis. For this purpose, an aromatherapist might suggest that you fill a basin with steaming water, add a few drops of eucalyptus or pine oil, and breathe in the fragrant fumes.
METHOD OF USE
MASSAGE: with an aromatherapy massage you get the benefit of the essential oil as well as that of the massage. It is found that the effect of touch can be very valuable to calm the person and soothe the nerves. To make an aromatherapy massage oil, simply add a few drops of an essential oil
to a small amount of an unscented carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil or
safflower oil. Read More About Aromatherapy Massage
BATH: Adding eight to 15 drops of an essential oil to your bath after the water has
finished running creates a relaxing atmosphere and allows the oil to seep into
your skin. It's best not to use soap in an aromatherapy bath, because it may
interfere with the absorption of the oil. Read More About Aromatherapy Bath
BURNERS AND VAPORISERS: these can be used to deodorize, fumigate or simply create a special atmosphere. Inhaling the vapours can also be therapeutically beneficial. Put a little water in the top part of the burner and add 7-10 drops of essential oil to it before lighting the candle below. Read More about Aromatherapy Burner
INHALATION: a stream inhalation is an excellent way of treating coughs, colds, sore throats and for cleansing the skin. Put very hot water in a bowl and add 3-4 drops of essential oil. Then lean over the bowl, place a large towel over your head and inhale the vapours. Essential oils can be used at home by inhalation or topical application.
COMPRESSES: depending on the ailment a hot or cold compress is an effective way of treating many local complaints. To make a hot compress pour hot water into a bowl & then add the essential oil. Place a cotton towel in the water and squeeze out the excess water and place immediately on the infected/painful area. A hot compress is very effective in problems such as skin infections, abcesses & boils, muscular or joint problems, arthritis, rheumatism, strains, sprains, backache etc. To make a cold compress add a few ice cubes to cold water in a bowl (& continue like a hot compress). A cold compress is very effective for certain types of headache and also if the area feels hot & inflamed.
BENEFITS OF AROMATHERAPY AND ESSENTIAL OILS
There is no evidence in the medical literature that aromatherapy on its own can prevent or heal disease. However, several studies have shown its ability to promote recovery in certain conditions and to reduce stress.
Some Benefits of Aromatherapy:
Introduces a state of relaxation and rejuvenation
Relaxes tight and tense muscles
Aids natural quality sleep
Encourages the interchange of tissue fluids
Stimulates blood and lymph circulation
Relieves pain, both specific and general
Alzheimer's and dementia
As well as using the therapeutic properties of the oils themselves, Aromatherapy and massage can be used to promote relaxation, lower anxiety and add to the quality of life for people suffering from dementia. Massage has been used successfully to help reduce the effects of aggression, and disturbed behaviour in individuals with severe dementia. There is also much work being done into smell-memory to help with maintaining and reinforcing the short term memory process which is the most distressing symptoms of dementia-related illnesses. People with dementia often feel confused and anxious - a gentle hand massage can evoke feelings of comfort and safety, particularly if used with a favourite scent reminiscent of childhood or their favourite perfume.
Massage has an immediate effect on reducing cortisone levels (stress-related hormone) in children with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and also lowered their self and parental assessed perceived pain levels over a 30 day massage programme
A 20 minute massage routine every day before bedtime has been found to improve the pulmonary function of children with asthma
Due to their chemical make-up, essential oils have many natural antibiotic, antifungal, antiseptic and antiviral properties.
The use of appropriate oils applied with massage can help relieve aching joints and contribute towards mobility and skin integrity.
Some essential oils and carrier oils are particularly suitable for use with dry or mature skin. Essential oils and massage can also help eliminate toxins from the body by stimulating circulation and lymphatic drainage.
Irritable bowel syndrome
The oral intake of peppermint oil has been shown to help people with irritable bowel syndrome .
Research has shown that lavender oil (Angustifolia) can reduce pain, and can also be used to reduce stress and anxiety. A 20 minute foot massage using lavender oil with intensive and coronary care patients showed a reduction in heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure and perceived pain.
Lower back pain can also be immediately helped with lower back massage, and lavender oil (unspecified) has been show to reduced perennial discomfort over a 5 day period of use after childbirth).
Through using EEG testing, the essential oils of Ylang ylang and Rosemary have been shown to influence Alpha-wave activity (Alpha-waves are induced by relaxation), Rosemary suppressing activity, while Ylang ylang causing an increase - in line with the direction expected by their anticipated therapeutic properties.
The sedative effects of lavender inhalation (non specified species) have been proven in work by Buchbauer et al. 1991, and 1993) when investigating the linalool content. Linalool is a terpenoid constituent that his lipophilic (interacts with cell membranes to suppress cell action), the effects being mildly sedative in nature.
Stress and relaxation
Aromatherapy massage has long been used to help promote relaxation and treat stress - many illnesses of the mind and body are a result of inability to cope with stress therefore aromatherapy has much to contribute in maintaining health both physically and psychologically. Massage will relax both the mind and body - massaging with essential oils enables relaxation and a feeling of well-being inevitable leading to a reduction in stress and anxiety. Clients will also benefit from the therapeutic relationship with their therapist. Friction from massage on the skin can stimulate or relax the body muscles (depending on the sort of massage and oils used), increase blood flow to peripheral areas, lower blood pressure and heart beat.
Massage with Neroli has been shown to have a significant psychological benefit when used over a 5-day period with post cardiac surgery patients.
Touch is a way of connecting, exchanging information, and building a relationship - this forms the basis of all communication and is central to our work with all people who have severe learning difficulties
Touch and smell are vital in order to understand the environment. They are also a basic behavioural need. Touch contributes towards a multi-sensory approach to help those with sensory impairment. It is supportive and comforting; it can help develop trust and relationships, so adding to quality of life.
Among the more common aromatherapy recommendations are:
- Eucalyptus and wintergreen oils for relieving congestion.
- Jasmine oil for easing depression.
- Lavender oil for calming, soothing, relaxing effects
- Lemon, orange, and other citrus oils for improving mood and increasing mental alertness.
- Peppermint oil for relieving nausea and aiding digestion.
- Rosemary oil for pain relief and muscle relaxation. Stimulates and invigorates the whole body
Immunological and Psychological Benefits of Aromatherapy Massage.
Kuriyama H, Watanabe S, Nakaya T, Shigemori I, Kita M, Yoshida N, Masaki D, Tadai T, Ozasa K, Fukui K, Imanishi J.
This preliminary investigation compares peripheral blood cell counts including red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), neutrophils, peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs), CD4(+), CD8(+) and CD16(+) lymphocytes, CD4(+)/CD8(+) ratio, hematocrit, humoral parameters including serum interferon-gamma and interleukin-6, salivary secretory immunoglobulin A (IgA). Psychological measures including the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) questionnaire and the Self-rating Depression Scale (SDS) between recipients (n = 11) of carrier oil massage and aromatherapy massage, which includes sweet almond oil, lavender oil, cypress oil and sweet marjoram oil. Though both STAI and SDS showed a significant reduction (P < 0.01) after treatment with aromatherapy and carrier massage, no difference between the aromatherapy and control massage was observed for STAI and SDS. Aromatherapy, in contrast to control massage, did not significantly reduce RBC count or hematocrit. However, aromatherapy massage showed a significant (P > 0.05) increase in PBLs, possibly due to an increase in CD8(+) and CD16(+) lymphocytes, which had significantly increased post-treatment (P < 0.01). Consequently, the CD4(+)/CD8(+) ratio decreased significantly (P < 0.01). The paucity of such differences after carrier oil massage suggests that aromatherapy massage could be beneficial in disease states that require augmentation of CD8(+) lymphocytes. While this study identifies the immunological benefits of aromatherapy massage, there is a need to validate the findings prospectively in a larger cohort of patients.