Aromatherapy is the use of plant essential oils for therapeutic purposes. Essential oils have been used in fragrances, flavourings and medicines for thousands of years and there are around 400 different oils extracted from plants all over the world. Each oil has its own special therapeutic properties, and can be used or applied in a variety of ways, including:
- Body massage, with the oils blended in a carrier oil or cream (this is perhaps the most popular application of aromatherapy);
- By adding a few drops to warm bath water (ideally diluted first);
- Through steam inhalation or vaporisers;
- In creams and lotions for individual use;
- In compresses.
What to expect
Before you have an aromatherapy massage, your therapist will carry out a full consultation, asking you various questions about your medical history, general health, diet and lifestyle. This will enable him or her to select a small number of essential oils, appropriate to your individual needs, which will then be blended into a carrier oil or cream and applied to your skin as part of a massage treatment. The areas treated will come down to your personal preferences, but would typically be either a full body massage, or a neck, back and shoulder massage, with towels used to protect your modesty.
At the end of the treatment, your therapist may recommend that you use certain essential oils at home - for instance, in the bath or on a tissue for inhalation - to further enhance the benefits gained from your aromatherapy massage.
Benefits of aromatherapy
Essential oils, which are highly aromatic, are readily absorbed into the body via the skin and lungs, and are believed to affect the body on all levels - physically, mentally and even emotionally/spiritually. When combined with massage, which helps to soothe away muscular tension and improve circulation, an aromatherapy treatment can be either deeply relaxing or uplifting, depending on the oils and massage techniques used by the therapist.
Aromatherapy is used by people for a variety of reasons. Some use it to help them manage or cope with specific physical, mental or emotional problems, while others use it as means of relaxation, or to help maintain good health and a sense of general well-being.
Aromatherapy massage and essential oils are commonly used in hospitals, hospices and other healthcare settings, to help support patients and their carers.
To read more about the potential benefits aromatherapy has as a form of complementary healthcare, click here >>
Aromatherapy should not be used in place of conventional medical care. Always consult a GP or other health professional for medical attention and advice.
Choosing a therapist
It is important to choose a qualified aromatherapist who has undertaken the necessary training to understand the theory and practice of this particular therapy.
By choosing an aromatherapist who is an FHT member, you can be confident that they are professionally trained, qualified and insured. They will also be listed on our Complementary Healthcare Therapist Register, as aromatherapy is considered a form of complementary healthcare.