Can you imagine the perfect spa day without the relaxing scent of lavender, incense, and candles? While these set the mood and enable spa visitors to immerse themselves in the relaxation experience, aromatherapy plays a much bigger role than that.
Aromatherapy is often used as an add-on to massages, and research suggests that it can provide extensive benefits for both the mind and body.
Key Benefits of the Spa Aromatherapy Experience
There’s a reason why you feel like your batteries have been recharged after a day at the spa. That feeling is due to all of the procedures being created to promote relaxation and help alleviate stress. The use of scents during different pampering treatments can produce even more notable results.
Aromatherapy is an ancient practice. The Egyptians were probably the first to use distillation machines for the extraction of aromatic oils from plants. The Chinese were the pioneers when it came to using these oils as relaxants and mood enhancers.
Today, aromatherapy is defined as the controlled use of essential oils to promote physical and spiritual well-being. The power of aromatherapy has been studied extensively, and clinical trials support its effectiveness for promoting relaxation.
One particularly interesting experiment involved pregnant women undergoing aromatherapy for anxiety.1 The results were presented in the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine in 2012. The women were divided randomly into two groups, where the first group underwent exposure to aromatherapy while the second group was exposed to a placebo.
The group participating in a 10-minute aromatherapy session registered a marked decrease in their tension-anxiety score and anger-hostility score, in addition to reduced heart rate readings. The improvement was significant in comparison to the results from the control group.
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Aromatherapy has even been used in intensive care units to speed up patient recovery by reducing anxiety and stress. One such clinical trial was presented in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal and it involved patients recovering after coronary intervention.2,3
Researchers found out that through aromatherapy, patients experienced a reduction in anxiety levels and they also had an improvement in sleep quality (in comparison to the results of volunteers belonging to the placebo-controlled group).
Lavender oil, in particular, has been explored to understand the manner in which it can calm down people and reduce anxiety. Through multiple animals and human clinical trials, researchers have found out that lavender oil is a mild sedative, a mood stabilizer that has a direct effect on brain chemistry and even a mild analgesic.4 All of these effects result in a feeling of well being and relaxation that doesn’t just stem from a nice massage or the calming atmosphere at a spa.
Getting the Aromatherapy Spa Effect at Home
Going to the spa is an obvious dream for many people but few can afford to do it on a regular basis. The procedures necessitate time and financial resources that many people lack.
In the US, there have been 187 million spa visits in 2017 and the numbers have been steady over the past few years (184 million visits in 2016 and 179 million visits in 2016). Seventy percent of spa-goers are women and most are young and active, attempting to escape from the serious stress of career building.5
At the same time, the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) reports that only 19 percent of adults in America had gotten a massage at a spa at least once over the course of 2016/2017. Only 33 percent of people questioned had gotten a massage over the course of the previous five years.
The number is small due to the lack of time, the fact that few medics discuss this option with their patients as a way to improve health and because of financial reasons.
If you cannot enjoy the professional spa and aromatherapy experience for one reason or another, you can bring it home cheaply and quickly. Knowing how essential oils act and what to do with them will help you put together a little sanctuary that will help you to relax and escape for a little bit from everyday issues.
Many spas offer clients their own blends of essential oils and sprays. These feature the right balance of oils to achieve a specific effect (energizing, rejuvenating, relaxing, etc.). Very often, massage therapists and aromatherapy experts work together on formulating aromatherapy lines aimed at delivering professional results in the home environment.
For the best outcome, you may want to educate yourself about some of the most popular and prominent aromatherapy oils:
An essential oil that promotes calmness and mood stabilization. It is often used to decrease nervous system sensitivity and some evidence suggests it may have a positive effect in controlling panic attacks.
We’re all familiar with the calming effect of chamomile tea but the essential oil derived from the herb can achieve the same effect. Preliminary studies suggest that chamomile could act as a mild antidepressant.7
Orange, Lime, and Lemon
Orange, lemon, and lime are all energizing essential oils. The scent is fresh and tart, creating feelings of happiness and boosting energy levels. These oils are great for direct inhalation or to be used in addition to a diffuser.
Peppermint is another energizing choice. The high concentration of menthol makes the oil a natural antibacterial and analgesic substance. It’s great for increasing vitality and enhancing one’s cognitive abilities (concentration and focus).
if you need to combat fatigue, rosemary essential oil is one of the best choices. It contains 1.8 cineole, a compound known to increase blood flow to the brain. As a result, a higher sense of alertness is experienced
To engage in aromatherapy at home, consider getting started with inhalations. Diffusers are simple, just pick the one you feel most comfortable with. Some use heat to evaporate the oil and in other instances, water and essential oils are used alongside each other. Take a look at the instructions before buying to make sure you know how to operate this aromatherapy essential device.
After experimenting with inhalations, you may also go for the topical application of essential oils that are suitable for the purpose.
For topical use, you can add a few drops of a preferred essential oil to your bath water or, if you want to do a massage, you will need a carrier oil. Up to 20 drops of an essential oil should be combined with an ounce of carrier like coconut, olive almond, argan or avocado oil. The need for using a carrier oil is easy to understand. Certain essential oils like the citrus varieties can act as irritants when applied directly to the skin.
Lavender oil is an excellent choice as an addition to your bath water. You can also have a relaxing massage with it. If you want a quick and easy self-massage, add six to 15 drops of lavender (patchouli is another great choice) to your unscented body lotion or butter. Apply to the skin after having a bath and massage gently until the lotion is completely absorbed.
The aromatherapy benefits are profound and the best aspect of this treatment is that it can be administered at home. Begin by exploring some of the top calming and energizing oils. A diffuser and some carrier oil are the essentials you’ll need for inhalations and for topical application. Once you master the basics, you can move on to other oil varieties and even blends.
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