Aromatherapy massage is Swedish massage therapy using massage oil or lotion that contains essential oils, which are highly concentrated plant oils.
During an aromatherapy massage, you inhale these essential oil molecules or absorb them through your skin – promoting beneficial changes in your mind and body by affecting the limbic system, a region of the brain known to influence the nervous system. People often have aromatherapy massage treatments to treat sore backs, necks, and/or sore shoulder muscles or to ease stress.
Why Do People Get Aromatherapy Massage?
Each essential oil used in aromatherapy is said to have different properties. For example, some calm and make you feel relaxed while others are more uplifting. Here are some widely used essential oils and their purported properties:
- Calming: chamomile, lavender, and geranium oil
- Energizing: rosemary oil
- Uplifting: ylang-ylang, clary sage, rose, and neroli oil
- Decongesting: eucalyptus, pine, and tea tree oil
- Dementia symptoms
- Menstrual pain
- Supportive care for people with conditions such as cancer
- Avoid eating a meal right before a massage.
- If it’s your first time at the clinic, please arrive early so you can complete the necessary forms. Otherwise, you may want to give yourself some time to rest and relax before starting the massage.
Use of therapeutic essential oils in massage is being explored for the following conditions:
The Benefits of Aromatherapy Massage
Aromatherapy massage appears to reduce the pain and discomfort of menstrual cramps, a 2015 study from the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology suggests. Participants did a self-massage with rose essential oil, an unscented almond oil, or no oil on the first day of menstruation for two menstrual cycles. By the second cycle, aromatherapy massage reduced the severity of pain compared to massage therapy with almond oil or no oil.
Massage with aromatherapy may also ease menopausal symptoms.
In a study published in Menopause, researchers compared 30-minute aromatherapy massage (twice a week for four weeks) to massage with plain oil or no treatment and found that both massage and aromatherapy massage were effective in reducing menopausal symptoms (with aromatherapy massage being more effective than massage only).
What to Expect During an Aromatherapy Massage
Although you can find aromatherapy massage at almost every massage clinic or spa, the style of treatment, degree of customisation and the quality of essential oils varies widely.
As a qualified aromatherapy massage therapist, I have one or more premixed blends and will select the blend based on your health concerns. A massage for relaxation and stress relief would likely include lavender essential oil, while an uplifting massage may include rosemary essential oil.I may add essential oils to massage oil immediately before each massage based on your unique condition or health goals.
The quality of the essential oils varies widely, essential oils are different from oils made with synthetic scents which don’t have therapeutic effects. All of the oils used in my aromatherapy massage sessions are essential oils.
Once the massage oil is selected, I’ll leave the room so you can disrobe and lie on the massage table. (Not sure how much clothing to remove? Read about massage questions you may be too embarrassed to ask.)
You will usually be asked to lie face down under a sheet. When I begin the massage, you’ll notice the subtle aroma of essential oils.
After the massage, I may suggest a blend that you can use at home in between massage treatments.
As licensed massage therapist I take your health history before the massage.
Essential oils may cause an allergic skin reaction. Essential oils are highly potent and can be absorbed through skin, so it’s important to avoid excessive use of aromatherapy oils and to only use oils that have been properly diluted by a carrier oil. If you’re sensitive to scents, aromatherapy may not be right for you.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, check with your doctor to see if this type of massage is safe for you.
Massage shouldn’t be done directly over bruises, skin rashes, inflamed or weak skin, unhealed wounds, tumours, abdominal hernia, or fractures. If a massage is painful, tell me immediately.
If you have a health condition, you should consult your doctor before getting an aromatherapy massage. People with certain conditions, such as cancer, may need to avoid essential oils and/or massage at certain times during their treatment or avoid it altogether.
Aromatherapy with essential oil-scented massage oils and lotions may help to ease stress and anxiety. If you’re considering trying aromatherapy massage, it’s a good idea to talk with your healthcare provider first to discuss whether it’s appropriate for you.
Some additional tips on making the most of your massage: