The Power of Aromatherapy combined within Massage Therapy: A Journey of Discovery
by Angelique Mayo
The quest for the search of materials found in nature that could alleviate suffering from mental, emotional, physical and spiritual trauma is ancient. This search has never stopped and with the passing of time and the evolution of humankind, human beings were able to identify plants that could help mitigate the effects of certain illnesses. The ancient Sumerians in the town of Nippur used prescriptions written on clay tablets that utilized plants. (Wormwood, 1996) History has revealed that over 4000 years ago people were adept enough to use flowers, seeds, leaves, fruit, roots and bark in their medicine. (Wormwood, 1996)
Although the use of plants, flowers, seeds, etc. continued to be used for medicinal purposes, it wasn’t until a French scientist by the name of Rene-Maurice Gattefosse that the use of this natural healing modality was given the name of aromatherapy. (Ericksen, 2000) So what is aromatherapy?
Author, Rebecca Park Totilo states, “Aromatherapy is a branch of alternative medicine that uses specific “aromas” from essential oils that have curative effects.” She, also stated that this “ healing art of aromatherapy traces back to 4,000-5,000 BC when the Egyptians, Greeks, Hebrews, Romans, and Persians burned herbs and flowers for medicinal purposes. (Totilo, 2013)
Although the history of Aroma is ancient, my discovery of this method of alternative medicine only occurred about nine years ago. Why the Universe set my feet on this path is a bit of a mystery to me. Perhaps it is because of my mother who wears many hats, one of them I deem as a healer, I too, wanted to explore ways that I could be of service to humankind through the use of alternative medicine, thus my interest first in massage and secondly in aromatherapy.
In this paper I will be discuss how I have seen the powerful effects of aromatherapy when combined with massage therapy. As a Licensed massage therapist for close to ten tears, I’m always looking of ways to improve my client’s well being. In my journey of exploration for a way to engage in healing in a natural way, I happened upon a definition of massage that stated, “Massage is defined as the systematic manual or mechanical manipulations of the soft tissues of the body by such movement as rubbing, kneading, pressing, rolling, slapping, and tapping, for the purposes such as promoting circulation of the blood and lymph, relaxation of the muscles, relief from pain, restoration of metabolic balance, and other benefits both physical and mental.” (Beck, 2006)
I knew that this was the path that I was searching for after having been a teacher of special needs students, for a number of years. This was a rewarding occupation and yet I knew that I was being pulled in a somewhat different direction.
I attended a state of the art massage school here in Missouri and was exposed to a number of massage techniques that could be utilized by a massage therapist to achieve specific goals requested by a client. Even as I used various techniques that I found most effective and successful dependent upon each client’s main goal such as Swedish Massage, Myofascial Release, Lymphatic Drainage Massage, and Hot and Cold Stone Massage, I knew that the effects of the massage on the client could be enhanced – Ergo, the discovery of essential oils and the art and science of Aromatherapy.
I have been able through the use of these combined modalities of massage and essential oils to work with my clients in a more effective way. When I discovered Aromatherapy, I was awed by how it could elevate the quality of everyday living for my family and myself on a mental, emotional, physical and spiritual plane.
I began to notice the lasting benefits that occurred with my clients and how the energy changed in the room upon applying particular essential oils. It appeared that when I used aromatherapy as a way to heighten the beneficial outcome of massage ,wonderful miraculous things occurred. This was particularly evident when highly stressed clients came for a massage and left feeling extraordinarily peaceful and pleased after the session. I realized that there was a qualitative difference in their level of mental and physical well being as a result of the essential oils that I used. I was cognizant that I had hit upon a winning combination and wanted to explore the efficacy of essential oils on a deeper level. It was then that I decided to get certification in this area from a well-respected school.
I am dedicated to continuing my journey to learn as much as I can to help my clients.
My completion of this program has been challenging in that life has tossed me some curves; however, I know that I have learned a tremendous amount of information, as well as gained a greater awareness of the power of aromatherapy. I plan to continue this journey and am committed to deepening my knowledge relative to aromatherapy by pursuing an advance degree in this dynamic field of alternative medicine.
Beck, F. B. (2006). Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Massage. New York: Thomson Delmar Learning Thompson Corp.
Totilo, R. P. (2013). Therapeutic Blending with Essential Oil: Decoding the Healing Matrix of Aromatherapy. St. Petersburg, Florida: Rebecca at the Well Foundation.
Wormwood, V. E. (1990). The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. United Kingdom: Macmillan London Limited.