Aromatherapy with essential oils adds benefits to massage for both givers and receivers. Essential oils are found in aromatic plants, and they contain the volatile molecules that contribute fragrance and taste. Essential oils can be inhaled, applied topically to skin and some can even be taken internally. The chemical constituents of essential oils may be sedating, stimulating, antispasmodic, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, or otherwise effective.
To support the health and well being of clients and therapists, it is important to use the high quality essential oils. Just as high quality carrier oils provide benefits, so do high quality essential oils. Lower quality essential oils may smell nice at best, but lack the natural chemical composition that makes it useful for aromatherapy. At worst, low quality essential oils may be intolerable to some people.
A mid-range brand is Aura Cacia, which is available in natural food stores and online. An upper end brand is Young Living. I would not purchase essential oils from Bath and Body Works or similar store that carries mostly synthetic fragrances.
- Use the highest quality carrier oil you can find (chemical free, additive free, organic, non-petroleum based). I like organic sunflower oil because it is light and is recommended for Ayurvedic massage. Organic extra virgin coconut oil is a little heavier, but wonderful smelling and great for the skin. Find organic sunflower oil at Banyan Botanicals. Find coconut oil at vitacost.com.
- Conduct a thorough intake with the receiver that asks about allergies and sensitivities.
- Know your contraindications and safety concerns. Naturesgift.com has a helpful page.
- Be conservative with essential oils. Some people cannot tolerate any scent.
- Essential oils, just like carrier oils, can oxidize and break down over time. To preserve freshness, keep caps on tightly and do not allow bottles to heat up.
- When testing aromatherapy scents, use the scent of ground coffee beans to cleanse your olfactory "palate"
- The most "essential" essential oils are lavender and peppermint due to their safety, versatility and affordability.
- Be careful not to get essential oil on wood or fabric surface as it will likely burn or discolor.
- Create a blend starting with just a few drops. You can always add more.
- A few essential oils can be applied “neat” or directly to the skin, like lavender, but most need to be diluted.
- Add 5-20 drops essential oil to 1 ounce of massage carrier oil.
- When using essential oil during massage, apply the oil to your hands and then wave your hands near the client’s nose (when their eyes are closed!) so that they enjoy the scent, then proceed with massage.
- Put a couple drops of essential oil, such as eucalyptus, on a cotton ball and place underneath face cradle for the client's sinus benefit.
- Use only natural candles (beeswax or soy). drop a few drops of essential oil in the liquid wax of a burning candle.
- Use essential oils on the feet to complement to foot reflexology.
- Add peppermint essential oil to a hot, moist towel for hot towel foot wraps.
- Add 20 drops or so of essential oil to hot stone heating water.
- Use a couple drops of tea tree oil on your toothbrush alone or with tooth paste
- Use a drop of peppermint oil on your tongue to freshen your breath
- Seek out therapeutic grade essential oils that have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties to protect yourself against colds, flu, common illness and skin infections that you may be exposed to during the course of a workday.