Aromatherapy is defined by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy as “the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit.”1 There is much speculation about why a plant produces oils, ranging from attracting pollinators, to deterrent from being eaten or grazed upon, to simply a byproduct of plant metabolism.2 In order to have a true essential oil, the oil must be acquired through physical means such as steam distillation rather than something like a chemical extraction.3 For example, mint extract you might use in baking is an alcohol extraction which is different from an essential oil. Peppermint oil is distilled by steaming the leaves of the plant and then condensing the steam back into a liquid after the essential oil has been vaporized into it.
Essential oils have many applications for day-to-day living that can help us improve our quality of life and sense of well-being. We also know that simply breathing in the scent of the oils can have a physical effect on our heart rate and blood pressure.4 Different essential oils are used for different purposes, so no matter what your current concern is, you will likely be able to find an essential oil that would suit your need. The oil of Polianthes tuberosa (the tuberose, a plant related to agave)5 has been shown to reduce anxiety6 while Lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil tends to have a soothing effect that reduces agitation.7 Essential oil blends (any mixture of two or more essential oils) can also be effective as the oils work together to calm complex symptoms. A blend of Santalum spicatum (sandalwood), Pelargonium roseum (geranium), and Ravensara aromatica (sometimes called clove nutmeg) for example, can help to alleviate the nasal symptoms, sleep quality, and fatigue associated with seasonal allergies.8
Oils can be diffused into the air via a warm surface or a special water-diffuser that releases oil and water vapor. They can be taken internally, provided you purchase your oils from a food-grade manufacturer. Additionally, they can be applied topically, and are often mixed with a carrier oil to be used in the context of massage. In particular, aromatherapy massage is very effective in relieving symptoms of depression, compared with simply inhaled aromatherapy.9 Aromatherapy massage has also been indicated to reduce reported pain and improve nociceptive (pain from nerve stimulation) and acute pain.10 It is for this reason that we have begun to offer doTERRA essential oil products for use during your massage sessions, or for your personal use at home.
If you have any questions about using essential oils in your home or during a session with us, please feel free to contact Rebalance Massage Clinic at 732-422-6364, or online at rebalancemassageclinic.com.