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To Scent or Not? What Is Aromatherapy Good For?

28 Jul 2017

Scents are all around us – some natural, some manmade. Some scents are pleasant while others are offensive. And ‘unscented’ seems to be a very popular category of just about any kind of product you can think of, from skin care to cleaning products.

In this post we’d like to talk about a very specific type of scent – that which comes from the therapeutic use of essential oils via a practice called aromatherapy. Aromatherapy products differ greatly from often artificially scented products such as room fresheners and perfumes, although some people choose to use aromatherapy oils for those purposes.

Aromatherapy involves the use of premium quality natural oils derived from plant parts. Essential oils are obtained from plants via distillation (hot or cold), maceration, or pressing. The resulting oil contains the ‘essence’ or signature fragrance of the plant in a concentrated form. And depending on the plant, the essential oil can do much more than just create a scent; it many cases it has therapeutic benefits as well.

Essential oils or other types of scent preparations have been used in multiple cultures for thousands of years for therapeutic reasons. Depending on the type of oil, benefits may include relaxation, pain relief, improved circulation, and relief from the symptoms of allergies such as congestion.

While there are literally hundreds of different single essential oils and combination oils available, some of the main oils used by massage therapists as part of a massage include:

  • Lavender – known to be relaxing; lavender can also be used as an antiseptic or antimicrobial
  • Citrus oils – can create a pleasant sense of well-being, and hence can be helpful for someone dealing with the symptoms of depression
  • Eucalyptus – has anti-inflammatory properties and is great for respiratory issues like congestion
  • Coriander – (from the cilantro plant) is known to be relaxing and can be very soothing
  • Angelica –  commonly used in Germany and other parts of Europe for both pain relief and addressing insomnia

There are many, many other oils that massage therapists may use. There are also those who provide aromatherapy services separate from massage.

At our Minneapolis massage school training in the use of aromatherapy is offered in one of our elective courses, Spa & Resort Techniques. It’s also available as a continuing ed course for bodywork professionals. (Click here for information on course, which begins in October.) And coming this fall we’ve got an exciting new continuing education course that’s open to the public. “On the Spot – Essential Oils for Mood Shifting” is a one-day workshop where participants will get a chance to experiment with a variety of essential oils that can aid in emotional and mental well-being. All are welcome!  (Click here for details.)


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