In 2004 I was lucky enough to qualify as an aromatherapist having completed the Diploma in Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Science with Neal’s Yard Remedies.
The training was diverse and challenging and as well as studying in the UK I spend time on a farm near Carcassonne in the South of France. During my time there I studied not only the therapeutic properties of essential oils but I also spend time on the land harvesting aromatic plants and flowers and learning how to distil oils. It was a magical experience and I have always been grateful for the high level of teaching I received.
Later, I went on to write and teach courses in aromatherapy and other subject for Neal’s Yard before I left to become a full time therapist.
As the years have passed, aromatherapy is still an important part of my work but I also use it at home. I always have a mixed bottle of lavender and tea tree oil in my medicine chest and I keep several other blends made up for a variety of ailments including bites, stings, aches and pains. I credit my working with essential oils each day as keeping me cold and bug free all through the winter!
Perhaps most importantly, I keep a good stock of oils in my therapy room for use with my clients.
When most people book in for an aromatherapy massage, they usually ask for a nice relaxing blend of oils or simply “something that smells nice”. They rarely come in with something very specific other an achy back or shoulders which is a shame. I believe the reason is that most simply don’t realise that aromatherapy is a potent therapeutic modality which can be used in many ways to work with a number of ailments.
In the UK, we are not qualified to prescribe oils to be taken internally. We can only use them in massage, compresses, baths, ointments and salves and in inhalations. However, this does not limit us to what we can achieve and it’s always worth discussing your ailments with a qualified aromatherapist to see if there is a safe natural solution.
Aromatherapy is most commonly used in the form of massage. When I see people for massage, I spend time discussing their needs before making up a bespoke blend of oils freshly for their treatment. I also keep some pre blended oils and waxes that I have made in advance for use in more general deep tissue style treatments.
Oils can be selected for a specific physical value; for example, they may be effective in reducing muscular inflammation and pain. Or, it may be something more emotional that we are working with. In this case, rose oil is deeply soothing and relaxing when feeling worn out, tired or emotional.
Blending oils is an art form and takes years to master. There is a sense of alchemy at work as the therapist selects and blends oils to help balance mind body and spirit. When the blend is combined with the hands of an experienced massage therapist, the magic is deeper still.
After a treatment I recommend to leave oils on the skin for several hours if possible. Care has to be taken if going outside in the sun as oils can make us more prone to burning. However some oils can take a long time to fully penetrate the skin so the longer they have to soak in the better the ultimate effect will be.
Ideally, when seeing an aromatherapist, it is best to have a course of regular treatments to allow the effects to build up over time and the beauty of aromatherapy is that it is very diverse. You can add aromatherapy oils to deep tissue and sports massage as well as to hot stone and other forms of oil based massage such as Chavutti Thirumal. It always enhances the effects of a treatment and advice can be given on the use of oils at home.
So next time you are thinking about having a massage, try aromatherapy or ask to have aromatherapy oils added to your treatment. Your therapist will have spend a long time studying plants and their therapeutic value and the oils will be blended with you in mind. You will then be able to experience for yourself that aromatherapy is more than just a massage.
I am an Acupuncturist, Professional Massage Therapist and Therapeutic Yoga Teacher with more than 15-years Experience. Based in Brighton and Hove, appointments are available 5-days a week Tuesday-Saturday. For more information please visit my website.