Saturday, 6 September 2008

The Healing Art of Aromatherapy Massage

Aromatherapy was used by ancient cultures to enhance mood and promote healing. Ancient Egyptians used essential oils to embalm the dead and the ancient Greeks thought that certain essential oils could make them smarter. There are a few people in history who are credited for what we now know as aromatherapy massage.

A French chemist named René-Maurice Gattefossé discovered the healing properties of lavender oil when he burned himself in his lab one day. He plunged his burn into the closest container of liquid he could find. That liquid just happened to be lavender oil. He noticed that his burn seemed to heal more quickly than it normally would have and that there was no scarring. This discovery made him start looking into the healing properties of lavender oil.

Madame Marguerite Maury (1895-1968) established aromatherapy clinics throughout Europe. Because she wasn't a doctor, she had no authority to prescribe that essential oils be administered orally, so she developed a system of administering oils through massage. She created modern day aromatherapy massage.

Essential oils are made from distilling parts of plants. The bark, flowers or leaves of a fragrant plant are distilled to make a potent liquid. Essential oils are not usually oily at all. This liquid can be mixed with a carrier oil, like grapeseed oil or sweet almond oil, to make a fragrant oil that can be used for massage. Each oil has its own healing properties and is beneficial in treating specific ailments. Some of the most common essential oils are:

  • Clary Sage
  • Eucalyptus
  • Geranium
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Peppermint
  • Roman Chamomile
  • Rosemary
  • Tea Tree
  • Ylang Ylang

There are some essential oils that can aggravate certain conditions. For example, you shouldn't use clary sage or rosemary essential oils if you have high blood pressure, a seizure disorder or are pregnant. Before using essential oils be sure to do your research and find out what oils are safe to use with the health conditions you have. There are some oils like bitter almond and sassafras that are considered dangerous and aren't even used by most aromatherapy professionals.

When you get an aromatherapy massage the therapist will talk to you about your health concerns. The therapist will also try to get a feel for the types of fragrances you like. Based on the information you give, the therapist will blend a mixture of essential oils specially suited for you.

Aromatherapy massages are usually relaxing. The strokes used in aromatherapy massage are based on Swedish massage techniques. They're usually long, flowing strokes. At the end of your massage the therapist will give you the remainder of the massage oil to use at home.

Lovelyn Bettison is a licensed massage therapist who believes in a holistic approach to health. You can learn more about aromatherapy massage and essential oils at her website. You can also learn about many other types of massage and the conditions they can treat.

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