Let’s face it, you knew this was coming; a blog post about essential oils and aromatherapy. After all, are there any wellness-related blogs in the blogosphere that don’t cover it at some point? Doubtful! I will NOT, however, try to sell you essential oils! Multi-level marketing companies are not my thing, so you can sit back, relax and read along knowing there will be no pitch to buy/sell more essential oils – promise! Now that we got that out of the way, let’s dive in, shall we?
What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to improve a person’s physical, emotional or spiritual health. Essential oils are the oils extracted from massive quantities of plant material (leaves, stems, flowers, rindes etc) through a variety of different, complex distillation processes that I have neither the ambition nor time to explain today. (If you like to geek out on this stuff, here’s a great post by someone more patient than me). These days it seems like every other Pinterest board or Facebook post is touting the benefits of certain oils or combinations thereof, but don’t be fooled! Aromatherapy is an ancient and effective practice that’s been around for over 5000 years. Those oils they used to embalm and mummify the Pharaohs? You guessed it, essential oils.
If you are interested in natural remedies but don’t know where to start, aromatherapy and essential oils are a great way to make a shift in your health, wellness and cleaning regimens. You can diffuse the oils into the air using an inexpensive ionic diffuser. This works double-time to scent the air (eliminating those chemical-laden room sprays or artificially-scented candles) and impart the therapeutic effects of the oils onto the people in your space. Since there are dozens of oils that have antimicrobial properties, you can make your own simple cleaning products using essential oils instead of spraying sketchy, artificially-scented, petroleum-derived conventional cleaning products. For more advanced users, essential oils can be applied topically to enhance their health benefits, although you should certainly do plenty of research regarding the safety and contraindications of any essential oils you plan to put on your skin.
Speaking of Skin
Aromatherapy massage is one way you can receive the benefits of both practices, and it just so happens that I know a thing or two about this! I studied aromatherapy in massage school and I’ve been using essential oils in my massage practice since I opened almost two years ago. I find that my clients enjoy having a few options of lovely-smelling massage oils to choose from, and it’s a great way for me to increase the healing potential of the hands-on work I’m doing. Here’s a quick list of some of the essential oils I’ve worked and had success with (hyperlinks redirect to an informational site where you can learn about the properties of each oil):
Lavender – Lemon – Neroli – Black Pepper – Petitgrain – Rose – Lemon Balm – Clary Sage – Ginger – Lemongrass – Ylang ylang – Clove – Cinnamon – Rosemary – Peppermint – Frankincense – Rose Geranium – Vetiver
Some of the above are especially great for reducing pain and inflammation when used topically, but most are actually said to improve emotional well-being and/or mental health. In my opinion, creating a positive sensory experience for my clients is pretty much what it’s all about. I’m not just providing therapeutic touch or addressing structural problems in the muscles, ligaments and fascia, I’m also creating an atmosphere that looks, sounds and smells lovely to help people get into the parasympathetic mode of healing. When our minds are less stressed, our bodies can repair – it’s that simple.
Where do I get my oils?
I thought you’d never ask! There are lots of options for sourcing essential oils including chain supermarkets, health food stores, online retailers and a couple very successful network marketing companies. Where you buy your oils doesn’t matter as much as how they are made. Because tons and tons of plant material are used to distill the oils, there’s an immense opportunity for pesticides, herbicides and other gunk to be concentrated in the final product. Harsh solvents used in the extraction process can also be found in inferior essential oil products. Because the skin is the largest organ in our bodies it’s kind of important to be careful with what you put on your skin. For this reason I only use organic essential oils diluted in fractionated coconut oil in my massage practice. There’s no way in H.E-Double-hockey-sticks that I’m going to rub concentrated toxic chemicals all over people all day. Not good for them. Not good for me.
I buy my oils from a wonderful Vermont-grown company called Lunaroma. They’re located in Burlington, but have a fantastic website featuring their entire (vast) product line. The reasons I work with Lunaroma are:
- It’s a woman-run company with a strong commitment to helping other female entrepreneurs. I dig this.
- They have great sourcing transparency.
- Knowledgeable and trained aromatherapists create their formulas . . . and if you go there, you can actually speak to them!
- There is an amazing brick and mortar store, in VT, that employs actual people with real faces. I like faces . . . and brick and mortar stores!
Most of the time I purchase single essentials oils from Lunaroma and blend them myself into seasonally-inspired or condition-specific massage oils. Once in awhile I purchase tried and true essential oil blends (my personal favorites are Protection, Allure and Sunburst) and make my massage oils using those. Recently, however, I went a little wild and got a few pre-made massage oils . . . now I need to get rid of them!
Don’t stop reading! You’re almost there!
From now until the end of May book a massage of any duration and click the “Add-on” for “Aromatherapy Special”. When you come to your appointment you can choose between Ginger Snap, Northern Comfort, Fresh and Insight massage oils*, and after your massage, the remainder of the bottle is yours to keep! I only have about 16 bottles, so book soon!
Happy Mother’s Day, y’all! Don’t think I forgot what’s coming up next weekend!!! For this Mother’s Day, skip the outdoor accessories or corny jewelry and get her something that will improve her wellbeing – a gift certificate for a 60 or 90 minute massage! Use coupon code MAMA at checkout and get 10% off. And give her a big hug, because moms are the best! Moms, don’t be ashamed to share this little blog with your kids – they’ll get the hint!
* supplies are limited so depending upon when your appointment is, not all options may be available.