What is Aromatherapy?
The essential oils used in aromatherapy are extracted from a wide range of aromatic plants and contain no artificial additives. They are applied in a carrier oil by massage or inhaled, added to baths and other external applications to treat a wide range of common ailments.
Documentary evidence of the use of essential oils for healing goes back at least 4000 years to the writings of Ancient China and India, and most of all Egypt. Some historic oils remain virtually unchanged today in their therapeutic application.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine and the Hippocratic Oath wrote that 'the way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day'.The healing properties of the oils were revived in France during the First World War.
How do oils work?
The scent of the oils is inhaled through the nose and reaches a very ancient part of the brain called the limbic system. This still seems to occur in people who claim no sense of smell. The limbic system is intimately linked with both memory and mood and influences the production of chemical messengers such as hormones and prostaglandins in the body. In this way they help to prompt self-healing of body, mind and spirit.
During massage, the chemical constituents of the oils are also absorbed through the skin into the blood stream from where they circulate to various parts of the body. Most oils have an antiseptic action; some, like tea tree, more powerful than carbolic acid. They each have different healing actions and affinities for particular organ systems or functions. The oils can be refreshing, stimulating, relaxing, uplifting or calming.
What does the therapist do?
Your aromatherapist will start by asking some questions about any health problems you may be suffering and also about your general level of health and any other treatments you may be having as these could interact with the aromatherapy, so please be sure to let her know if you are on any medication or are suffering any health problem even if it seems irrelevant.
She will then select a combination of essential oils and carrier oil that seems appropriate and let you smell them before proceeding. It is usually possible to come up with different combinations that suit the conditions so do say if you find the smell unpleasant.
Normally you will be asked to undress to your underwear and lie on the massage couch but it is possible to massage just the legs, arms or head and neck without undressing if this is a problem.
The aromatherapist will then massage the oils into your body with a variety of gentle stroking actions and deeper kneading motions to unknot tense muscles. The massage is designed to assist lymph flow in the body, which helps carry away any build-up of toxins so that they can be flushed away.