What is it?
The Ancients used apothycarys to source treatments for their ailments – medicines extracted from plants with known medicinal properties – and even today, our drugs are synthetic representations of natural ingredients found in plants – from roots, berries, seeds, resin from bark, from leaves, flowers and fruits.
Aromatherapy seeks to administer small doses of aromatic oils which have been extracted using steam distillation from plants with known therapeutic properties. Clinical aromatherapists will examine your medical history and present state of health, both physical and psychological and devise a blend of oils to administer to you. These oils will be mixed with a carrier oil which also has beneficial qualities to create a unique blend for maximum effect on your body systems.
Generally aromatherapists administer these oils by way of gentle lymphatic massage. The optimum way for the body to absorb the therapeutic qualities of essential oils is through a combination of inhalation and dermal absorption which can be achieved through warming massage and also by release of oils into the bath or by inhalation techniques.
The scent of the oils has a strong effect on the limbic system in the brain which contributes to emotional and psychological wellbeing whilst the medicinal properties of essential oils enter the body through the skin. Gentle lymphatic massage warms the skin and the minute doses of combined oils cross the outer layer of the skin, through the dermis and into capillaries and thus into the bloodstream.
For this reason oils are blended whilst you are with the aromatherapist and applied fresh and thus effectively onto your skin. Their effectiveness can wear off after a few hours, unless fixed by the addition of wheatgerm carrier oil.
The relative benefits of massage are also known to increase endorphin release and induce relaxation which counteracts stress and tension.
What happens during a treatment?
Your Aromatherapist will take a medical history from you and discuss what three conditions in your present state of health she will seek to treat.
She will then test whether you like the aroma of the oils and begin to make your unique blend. You will have to withdraw and undress down to your underwear and remove all jewellery. You will be given a large towel to emerge from the dressing area and alight onto the massage table.
The massage takes approximately one hour, sometimes a little more. You will lie face down on the massage table for massage of your back and both legs. You will then have to turn over on the couch for massage of the front of your legs and arms. Sometimes the stomach is massaged as well. The therapist will then move above your head and complete the final part of the massage which covers your neck and shoulders, face and scalp.
The massage comprises a great deal of effleurage (smooth soothing movements) with a little petrissage (more vigorous squeezing/frictions movements) and some passive massage (manipulations)
Aromatherapy massage is relaxing and invigorating. It increases the blood supply, breaks down and aids toxin elimination, helps break up fatty deposits under the skin and can relieve muscle spasm and stiffness. Gentle massage also aids skin tone by aiding desquamation of the epidermis and increases lymph flow.