Is Aromatherapy Massage Right for you? Components, Potential Benefits & Risks
Regular massages are a great way to unwind after a hard week. However, if you want to take your relaxation to the next level, you should treat yourself to an aromatherapy massage!
So what exactly is an aromatherapy massage? We'll dive into this question and explore all the information you need to know about aromatherapy massages here, that way you can find out if this is the right relaxation method for you!
What Is Aromatherapy Massage Therapy?
Aromatherapy massages are a form of massage that combines Swedish massage techniques with the power of essential oils. A masseuse will pour natural essential oils onto your body and use various levels of pressure with their hands to de-stress the body thoroughly.
In addition to this, essential oils (which are diluted in a carrier oil) themselves are packed full of powerful scents that can help clear the mind and loosen up the body.
As these plant-derived oils are pressed into your skin, the idea is to enter a deeper state of relaxation. In some cases, an aromatherapy diffuser will also be used in combination with the oils rubbed into your body. Many of these therapeutic grade essential oils are said to have healing properties when inhaled and rubbed directly onto an individuals skin.
One specific essential oil, lavender, has been known to be used as a remedy for psychophysical relaxation, due to it's touted sedative and calming properties. However, many essential oils have been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years as forms of traditional and complementary medicines.
In science, compounds within these essential oils, like linalool in lavender essential oils, can interact with certain bodily "neuropharmacological targets" and receptors that lead to this relaxing type effect.
Related Article: Aromatherapy Body Massage & The Most Used Essential Oils
How Are Aromatherapy Massages Performed?
Usually, clients will go to a professional massage establishment to get their aromatherapy massage done. You can also get this type of massage performed at a spa or clinic, but typically, a licensed masseuse will use various oils to help you relax.
Massages are customized to your particular needs, and you can talk to the masseuse about which oils and what type of massage you're looking to have performed. Many different types of essential oil combination can be mixed for your session.
There is a ton of variety and options available, each essential oil has its own touted healing properties and benefits which you can discuss with your masseuse or even do your own personal research on.
You will need to set up an appointment and find a reputable place to get your massage done, so do a little bit of research, read customer reviews, and choose somewhere you feel comfortable. Potentially, somewhere a friend or family member has been to before.
What Are The Benefits of Aromatherapy Massage?
There are several potential health benefits associated with an aromatherapy massage. The following benefits can differ depending on the essential oils used, the massage techniques, etc. On the whole, you should see similar positives results from consistent aromatherapy massages.
1. Potential for Further Relaxation and De-stressing
Aromatherapy massages are focused on getting you tension-free and stress-free as soon as possible. A variety of essential oils may help you let go of worries and anxiety you might be feeling in the present moment, and the pressure of a good massage should aid in helping you unwind more rapidly.
In studies it's been shown that both regular massages and ones using aromatherapy, significantly reduced anxiety and depression scores after treatment.
Another study focused on hand massages using lemon, tuberose and labdanum essential oils. The results suggested an anti-stress effect and was stronger then the effect from just massage alone.
On the contrary to these above studies, there have also been studies inconclusive or showing little effect of these massages on stress. Like this study that looked at aromatherapy and massage on stress reduction in nurses. The review revealed that evidence did not sufficiently prove it to be effect in reducing "job-related" stress!
One of the goals is to get your muscles and mind into a state of balance and harmony, and we hope that this is an end result for you!
2. May Help Reduce Intense Mental Health Symptoms
The research into this type of relaxation technique is still new and growing, however, aromatherapy massages are really starting to make waves in the mental health community.
Aromatherapy massages are not going to be a cure for all of your problems. Mental health problems require professional intervention, and usually a mix of different methods to treat. However, you may be able to reduce the symptoms of various disorders with the help
of regular aromatherapy massages, and other forms of complementary therapies/practices, including yoga and meditation.
Healing from our emotional issues starts when we can get in a clear frame of mind; things such as massages, aromatherapy, yoga, meditation and other mind-body practices may be a beautiful healthy combination to just feel better overall.
There have been small sample size studies, looking into specific populations and the use of aromatherapy. For instance a study looking at treatment of psychological symptoms of postmenopausal and elderly women, found that aromatherapy may help with symptoms like anxiety and depression.
Another study suggested oils like lavender essential oil (as we discussed above) may have positive effects in clinical settings among patients, helping to control anxiety and cortisol levels. Keep in mind these patients were not undergoing massages, this was more of a correlation of the essence of the oil itself.
Something as simple as a massage or an aroma, could be the start of your road to more balanced-relaxed state. When you know you can feel even marginally better, your mental health outcomes will hopefully positively increase.
Since aromatherapy is a scent-based massage, it has the potential to help clear your nasal passages depending on the oil(s) chosen. Diffusers may help promote better nasal health as well, as they help to diffuse the aroma and it's compounds throughout a space.
Peppermint, tea tree, lavender, and other essential oils have the potential (according to research) of improving your breathing, leading to less mucus build-up, and less congestion built-up in your nasal passages.
Peppermint in specific, has been studied and well documented for its ability to act as a decongestant.
4. May Reduce Chronic Back Pain & Other Chronic Pain Conditions
Many People who suffer from chronic back issues go in for a massage regularly, as it has been shown to be effective in managing subacute/chronic low back pain as well as soft tissue injuries. However, if you want something that can take your routine sessions to another level of relaxation for those back issues, aromatherapy just might be for you, adding in the potential benefits from the plant-derived oils.
If you suffer from chronic back pain, an aromatherapy massage may help reduce the discomfort you feel in your body. Massages immediately promote release of endorphins, as well as help decrease levels of stress hormones. Physical benefits of this not only include better immune system function, but also reduced muscle tension, improved circulation, improved joint mobility and flexibility.
Essential oils themselves are thought to stimulate the limbic system responsible for helping to control emotions.
One small sized study in patients with osteoarthritis concluded that massage with lavender essential oil was found to be effective in pain relief.
Furthermore, other health conditions that create pain in the body can be improved with this type of massage. People with arthritis, myofascial pains, severe PMS, TMJ, and many other health conditions can benefit from aromatherapy massages in several ways.
Another study concluded that aromatic oil massage provided relief for outpatients with dysmenorrhea (pain associated with menstrual cramps) and reduced menstrual pain duration.
5. Can Help You Get A Better Night of Rest
Back massages and essential oils are not just great for reducing pain. This massage technique may also help you get a better night of rest or quality of sleep and duration. Lavender, chamomile, and other oils can help induce a deeper state of sleep, and with the addition of a deep tissue massage, you can further enhance the effects of aromatherapy for an improved night of rest.
Individuals that suffer from insomnia or other sleep issues should definitely look into an aromatherapy back massage, to see if this can aid in your sleep efforts.
A study of surgical intensive care unit patients showed that aromatherapy message enhanced quality of sleep and positive changes in physiological parameters.
Aromatherapy itself, has also shown positive signs in children with sleep disorders. Specific oils have shown to improve quality of sleep, deep sleep, and time crying prior to sleep onset.
Are There Any Risks Associated With This Practice?
In general, aromatherapy massages should not be dangerous for the average individual. However, you do want to consult your massage therapist before you undergo this type of back treatment. Usually, professional establishments will ask about your health history. They will also ask about any allergies you might have.
You could be allergic to certain oils and not know, so it’s important to take these health questions seriously. You'll want to ensure that the oil you use is safe for your body, you can try and dab a little on your hand before you're massaged with the oil.
In addition, if you're pregnant or have any type of medical condition, it is best to also consult your doctor. Some health issues could be worsened by aromatherapy massages. For instance, people body lesions or certain skin conditions may not be the best candidates for this type of massage.
Aromatherapy massages are great, but you always want to do proper research, or consult with your massage therapist or PCP if you have any conditions that may be an issue with oils or deep tissue massages.
We also recommend that you pair these massages with other treatments that may have been prescribed, as aromatherapy massages may be a great way of relieving certain symptoms, like pain, but we are not indicating them as a cure for any condition you may have!
Thanks for coming by, we hope you stop by again soon!