Aromatherapy or Massage?

Posted on: June 11th, 2009 by
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Most people are more familiar with the term massage therapist than aromatherapist. I have found this to be even more evident since I moved to the USA from the UK. In the UK, aromatherapy and the use of essential oils is becoming more widely accepted in the health field and some forwarding thinking doctors are even allowing the use of essential oils either at their practices or in the hospitals.
Traditionally associated with the beauty industry, this is a very positive move in recognising the importance of the use of essential oils and aromatherapy in their own right. Essential oils are so much more complex than ‘nice smells’ – and for that reason it is very important to know the power of essential oils and the reactions that the individual chemical components can cause. It is essential to consult a qualified aromatherapist; unfortunately, there are no rules or regulations in the USA to govern someone setting themselves up as an ‘aromatherapist’ – anyone can do it.
I have found many people (that’s not to say all!) in the USA are more familiar with fragrance oils than essential oils; although pleasing to the nose, fragrance oils do not possess the same healing powers of essential oils. And the USA appears to have some catching up to do in accepting essential oils in medical practice in the same way as in the UK; educating people about what an essential oil actually is may help spread the word.
One journal I can highly recommend for the serious aromatherapist interested in evidence based case studies and reports on random clinical trials carried out in the UK, Australia and some other select places is The International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy. The Journal presents some very interesting cases and non- biased evidence on the power of essential oils and the use of aromatherapy and is produced by Bob and Rhiannon Harris, both very experienced in their fields.
So what about massage? Should it be considered a separate discipline to aromatherapy? Both massage and aromatherapy are ‘stand alone’ therapies and one can work without the other. However, when aromatherapy and massage are combined they are even more powerful. Often, I have had clients who may have experienced a massage before but not aromatherapy. And I have never had a dissatisfied client yet! The power of essential oils when experienced for the first time is amazing! However, aromatherapy doesn’t have to be administered through traditional massage; for example, it can be inhaled or made into bath and body lotions. The magic is in creating a synergy of essential oils which have the ability to treat and heal.
So, in my next post I’ll go ‘back to basics’ and discuss what an essential oil actually is – and is not…

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