Essential oils intended for aromatherapy massage need to be diluted in a natural base oil such as olive, almond or sunflower seed – preferably labeled ‘unrefined’ or ‘cold pressed.’
If a vegetable oil is not labeled as such, it is certain to be a highly refined product extracted by high pressure, intense heat and possibly petroleum derived solvents. Moreover, the oil will also have been bleached, deodorized and artificially colored. The devitalized end product may then receive a dose of synthetic vitamins to replace those, which were destroyed during the refining process. To add insult to injury, it is quite legal to describe such a product as ‘pure.’
While a refined base oil will not harm the skin (unless you have an allergy to the plant from which it derives), unrefined oils are far superior.
Indeed, they are health treatments in themselves. The oils contain naturally occurring nutrients such as vitamins D and E, essential fatty acids and trace minerals such as calcium and magnesium, all of which are highly beneficial to the skin whether taken internally or used topically. For many years aromatherapists have promoted refined oils such as grapeseed and soya (unavailable in an unrefined state) because they have almost no odor of their own and therefore do not interfere with the aromas of essential oils. The fruity-peppery aroma of extra virgin olive oil blends especially well with citrus essences; and while unrefined almond oil is an excellent base for all essential oils, its dulcet aroma marries exceptionally well with rose and chamomile.
Aromatherapists are somewhat divided over the issue of refined base oils – some believe they are ideal for aromatherapy treatments, some would argue otherwise. Most choose to compromise by mixing a refined oil such as grapeseed with a smaller percentage of an unrefined oil such as avocado, olive or jojoba. However, there is a consensus of opinion regarding mineral oil: it should never be used as a base for essential oils.Mineral oil (often available as ‘baby oil’) is derived from petroleum. Not only does it lack the health-giving properties of unrefined vegetable oil, according to some health experts mineral oil applied to the skin (or taken by mouth) makes fat-soluble nutrients leach from the body.
For the whole body massage. The nurturing touch of a massage is considerably enhanced by the aroma of essential oils. A selection of blends appropriate to everyday circumstances is given below. These few suggestions are to be used as a guide. If you are already familiar with some of the essential oils and have a favorite blend, there is no reason why you should not use it.Choose up to four oils to make the combination appropriate to your needs. Mix them with a carrier oil as described in the section on choosing and blending oils.
A Blend to Aid Relaxation. Relaxation is of particular importance following a stressful day at work. A massage with any of the following oils is a most effective way to encourage relaxation. Choose three or four oils from this list: bergamot, German chamomile, clary sage, lavender, rosewood, or sandalwood. To add an uplifting note select one of the other citrus oils, which will produce a blend that is relaxing and uplifting at the same time
Blend to Dispel Gloom. When everything seems gray, an enlivening massage with some of the invigorating oils could help turn the day around from one of sadness and despair to a more energetic one. Try a blend of three or four of the following oils: black pepper, cypress, eucalyptus, fennel, ginger, grapefruit, jasmine, juniper, lemon, nutmeg, peppermint, rosemary, tea tree.
A blend for stiff muscles. Everyone can suffer from minor muscular aches and pains from time to time. They may be brought on by unusual physical exercise – from gardening or dancing to sporting activities – or simply by remaining in an uncomfortable position too long. At such times the warming oils that bring blood back into the aching muscles are the most helpful. Choose your oils from the following list: benzoin, black pepper, clary sage, eucalyptus, ginger, grapefruit, jasmine, juniper, lavender, lemon, marjoram, nutmeg, orange, peppermint, or rosemary.
A Remedy for Over-indulgence. If you have over-indulged in alcoholic drinks, try to drink several glasses of water before sleeping, to help alleviate the dehydration caused by an excess of alcohol. Drink plenty of water and orange juice at breakfast to help detoxification and, if possible, eat some wholemeal toast with a yeast spread. A gentle massage, using three or four of the following oils, may help restore normal good health after eating or drinking too much: black pepper, fennel, geranium, ginger, juniper, orange, or peppermint. Blend for raising the Spirits. For the days when the ordinary activities of life seem too difficult, there are some oils that can help raise the spirits: benzoin, bergamot, cedarwood, clary sage, frankincense, geranium, grapefruit, jasmine, mandarin, nutmeg, orange, rose, rosewood, or ylang-ylang. A blend of three or four from this list, and the comforting quality of a massage can give you back a zest for life.
A Blend of Warmth and Comfort. After struggling with bitter winds and the cold of winter, the idea of undressing for a massage may seem foolish. However, there are some warming and comforting essential oils that can be very nourishing when you are feeling emotional, as well as physically, cold. Blend benzoin, ginger, orange, and rosewood, together and allow them to envelop your body in their special aroma.
An Aphrodisiac blend In a long-term relationship the intimate physical bond between partners may weaken or cease to exist. A long illness, overwork, or emotional crises can also contribute to a lack of sexual interest. At such times the non-sexual but loving touch of massage can play a major role in rediscovering the sexual intimacy that has been missing. Essential oils that may help are black pepper, cedarwood, clary sage, fennel, frankincense, ginger, jasmine, rose, and sandalwood. Note that this is an area where it is of particular importance to take in each’s personal preferences for fragrance.
Seasonal blends. To create the mood of the festive season, make use of the scents that are the very essence of Christmas: frankincense, ginger, and mandarin. You could also try experimenting with benzoin, neroli, and orange. Easter, occurring at the time of renewal and refreshment, is an excellent opportunity to try a blend of geranium, palmarosa, and rosewood.
A Nuptial Blend. There is only one choice of the blend for a pre-wedding massage: jasmine and rose, respectively the king and queen of fragrances, and neroli, to calm the nerves. This luxurious blend will bring the essence of peace to the beginning of married life.
A Blend to Instill Peacefulness. Frankincense, sandalwood, neroli, and ylang-ylang blend to create a delicious perfume of peace. This mix can help recreate feelings of tranquillity and reduce feelings of fragmentation. It can be valuable in contributing to reconnect someone to their strong inner core. Give or receive a massage with this mixture and help yourself regain peace in your life.