Aromatherapy uses scents from essential plant oils that are either applied to the skin or inhaled. Aromatherapy for health purposes dates back thousands of years, playing an important role in the medical systems of the Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks. Today it is one of the alternative treatments used for a wide variety of emotional and physical conditions including pain.
Today, there are many professionals who use aromatherapy in their practice whether they are massage therapists, practitioner of herbal medicine, hospice workers or integrative medicine specialists. AromaWeb reports that “products that include synthetic ingredients are frowned upon in holistic aromatherapy” and note that perfume or fragrance oils are not the same as essential oils as they contain synthetic chemicals.
Essential oils can be inhaled and applied. An example of aromatherapy inhalation is the diffusing of eucalyptus to ease congestion. Many aromatherapy massage practitioners ask their clients to inhale the particular scent before using that scent in a manual application. High quality essential oils are never applied directly to the skin as their high concentration of elements can cause an adverse reaction. Instead, these oils are diluted with water or almond or other natural oil.
An enjoyable way to manage aches and pains is the application of essential oils. The oils can be applied directly to pressure points during a massage. Some recommended essential oils to consider incorporating into your next massage include lavender, spruce, wintergreen, marjoram, ginger and sandalwood.
An introductory guide to thousands of uses for essential oils is available at Sustainable Baby Steps. The use of the cypress essential oil soothes muscle tension and wintergreen calms muscles and joints and improve the skin and complexion. Lavender is well known for its relaxing effects. Ginger has been shown to inhibit the synthesis of eicosanoids, which are chemical signalers involved in the sensation of pain. Sandalwood can help treat sciatica, muscle spasms and congestion. It is also used to promote sounder sleep. Marjoram has sedative properties as well and helps treat arthritis pain, generally stiffness, migraines and spasms.
More and more companies are marketing massage oils that include essential oil blends. Mood-oils™ are all natural, USDA Certified Organic massage oil blends made up of healing and moisturizing sunflower, argan, rosehip, jojoba, grape seed, hemp, and pumpkin oils. The oils are infused with one of eight unique essential oil blends to create oils that promote creativity, energy, serenity, tranquility, and even passion.
In addition to being incorporated into a massage, essential oils can also be added to a bath soak. Two cups of Epsom salt combined with up to 20 drops of an essential oil can be an effective treatment for muscle pain and joint stiffness.
A hot or cold compress, which includes essential oils, can be an effective treatment. A hot compress can be used for inflammation and a cold compress may aid a headache. Compresses can be used for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.