Herbal Magic: Find the Perfect Massage Oil

Combine herbs and massage to melt stress away.

| September/October 2004

Several brands of aromatherapy massage oils are available at health-food stores, and massage practitioners who practice aromatherapy often have a selection of oils from which you can choose. Whether you are the therapist or the recipient, be sure the massage oils are made with pure, undiluted essential oils derived from plants rather than synthetics. (The bottle or brochure should state the purity and provide specific Latin names for the herbs. Also, make sure the label says “essential oil” rather than “fragrance oil.”)

It’s important that the person receiving massage enjoys the aroma. Ask for a sample sniff of the oil before it’s used on you. Even though most people find an essential oil like lavender pleasant and relaxing, someone who dislikes the scent, perhaps due to bad memories they associate with it, will be anything but relaxed!

I’ve found that lightly fragranced massage oil is most therapeutic. For this reason, aromatherapy massage should be done in a well-ventilated room with a fan or a good air filter to remove scents from the air. You may be surprised how strong the fragrance in a room can become — especially noticeable when you walk outside and take a few deep breaths, then come back inside.

You don’t need to be a massage therapist to qualify for using body oils with massage. Even if you aren’t skilled in specific techniques, you still can give friends a therapeutic rub. Nurses who give their patients Therapeutic Touch have found that touch alone enhances healing. Or, treat yourself to self-massage to reap the benefits of aromatic oils.

I prefer using several massage oils, each one containing its own selection of essential oils chosen to treat a different condition. That way, I can address a client’s specific concerns, say to relieve a headache or sprained ankle. Or, how about lavender massage oil with cocoa butter for a pregnant belly? Babies love massage, too, provided you work gently but don’t tickle, and stick to gentle oils like lavender and chamomile. (Massage oil for babies and young children should contain no more than half the amount of essential oil as oil for adults.)

Relaxing Essential Oils

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