Aromatherapy massage is used for a number of different reasons, including relaxation, pain management, and mood enhancement. These are also some of the fundamental benefits of massage therapy. The addition of essential oils is believed to increase these benefits.
Some of the more popular essential oils used in aromatherapy include:
Aromatherapy is often added to a traditional massage session as an additional service. The masseuse can spread an essential oil around the room during your session or you can add a few drops of oil to the massage lotion and apply it directly to your skin.
Uses of aromatherapy massage
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) trusted source, nearly 7 percent of U.S. adults use massage therapy regularly.
Massage therapy itself involves manipulating the muscles and lymph nodes using professional pressure and rubbing techniques.
Some types of massage include:
hot stone massage
Essential oils can be added to any type of massage for aromatherapy purposes.
Massage therapy has been linked to a short-term decrease in physical pain and an improvement in mood. Adding an essential oil to an aromatherapy massage can potentially enhance the effects.
For example, if you have aches and pains from depression, adding a mood-enhancing oil such as orange may also make you feel better.
What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to achieve certain benefits. Examples include lavender, orange, bergamot, and eucalyptus. These “scents” are all derived from herbal plants, tree extracts and flowers. Essential oils are extremely concentrated, so to be used correctly they need to be diluted in more delicate oils, humidifiers or lotions.
The general purpose of aromatherapy is to improve your physical and mental well-being. More than ever, consumers are testing essential oil products by diffusing them at home or diluting them for use on the skin.
Does aromatherapy work?
Scientific research on the health effects of aromatherapy is mixed or nonexistent.
According to the NCCIH, some studies have found that mood enhancing oils are effective. Examples of these include lemon, orange and mandarin orange. However, the same study found that lavender, while widely considered safe, does not affect mood.
Another study looked at the effects of chamomile and massage therapy for relieving anxiety. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) reliable source, the results showed a greater decrease in anxiety symptoms after chamomile massages than massages without aromatherapy.
Overall, the NCI notes that aromatherapy has shown benefits for the following uses:
Risks of aromatherapy massage
In general, there are few risks associated with aromatherapy massage. One consideration is the possible sensitivity to the essential oils used during the session. Your masseuse should always dilute the oil with a massage lotion or carrier oil before applying it to the skin.
If you are unsure about a particular oil, ask the therapist to spread it around the room rather than applying it directly to the skin.
Possible symptoms of an allergic reaction to essential oils include:
Another consideration is the lack of regulation on essential oils and essential oil products used in an aromatherapy massage. Since many essential oils are considered cosmetic, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate them for their safety and effectiveness.