Unless you're a Buddhist monk or spend the majority of your time basking in nature without a care, you're no stranger to stress. The fact is that everyone experiences stress from time to time.
These days, stress seems to be a common, everyday occurrence for some of us.
According to a National Institute of Health article, stress can be a good thing. For instance, it can prepare your mind and body to perform well in life changing and life-threatening situations.
The article also mentions that prolonged stress can take a toll on the body and can lead to health problems. Recurring stress doesn't give the body a chance to return to normal.
As a result, mental disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and other problems can occur.
When you're under stress, especially stress that isn't going away any time soon, it's imperative that you adopt de-stressing methods. It doesn't have to be anything drastic or expensive.
The simple things go a long way. Sleep in one day of the week. Skip the gym. Have a slice or two of devil's food cake.
Maybe even consider taking a mental health day. Some things can be put on hold so you can recover from stress sooner.
7 Best Essential Oils For Massage Therapy
Naturally Made Essentials
*The companies chosen above are based upon my personal opinion based upon me giving them a try and testing their quality.
What Exactly Is Massage Therapy?
Massage therapy is a procedure that involves a therapist using their hands, fingers and other parts of the body to manipulate tissues in your body.
It's one of the most tried and true remedies for stress. For over 5,000 years, massage therapy has been used to improve overall health.
Benefits include relaxation, increased fertility, pain reduction and healing from injuries. Many massage therapy techniques exist. Some popular ones include reflexology, Thai, lomi lomi, stone and Shiatsu.
Adding essential oils to the concept provides even more benefits. Natural essential oils have several healing and relaxation properties.
5 Reasons You Should Frequent The Spa For a Massage
We all know how promising massage therapy is when it comes to de-stressing. However, we tend to overlook what's happening behind the scenes.
A number of processes take place during a massage, adding to your overall well-being. Below are five of the most essential processes.
It Enhances Your Immunity.
Just one of the many ways stress breaks you down is by weakening your immune system. Many studies, such as one published in Science Direct, have found links between stress and immunity.
Authors Reiche, Morimoto and Nunes assert that chronic stress continuously triggers the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. In turn, the immune system is compromised, giving way to certain types of cancer.
Massages can stimulate the body's white blood cells, which play a large role in the function of the immune system.
Boosts Your Happy Chemicals
Massages have been shown to increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine while decreasing the pesky stress chemical called cortisol.
While cortisol is activated to help your body when you're stressed, it can wreak havoc when stress is prolonged.
Serotonin and dopamine, on the other hand, can help you combat depression and anxiety.
Decreases Chronic Pain
When you have chronic pain, your quality of life just isn't as good as it could be. Not only is the feeling unpleasant. Pain itself can lead to more stress and tension. The good news is that a Harvard Medical article suggests that therapeutic massages can reduce pain.
A massage works three-fold. For one, it can close pain receptors that travel to and from the brain. It also relaxes painful joints, muscles and other tissues. Lastly, since it reduces anxiety and other mental conditions, this could also work to reduce pain.
As you may know, just being stressed out can cause tension and inflammation, which are common causes of pain.
You Can Recover Faster From Workouts And Injuries.
Today's fitness obsession has some of us not just walking and jogging a few days a week. We're up at sunrise taking cross fit and rock climbing after work.
Though workouts are exciting and beneficial to our health, they can also wear us down.
For instance, all that sweating can leave a body hungry for lost minerals, like potassium, protein and iron. In depletion, our bodies break down. Furthermore, our bodies are subject to tearing because of all the strain.
Massages increase blood flow and tension, fostering faster healing in affected areas.
Massage Therapy Lowers Blood Pressure.
Yet another reason to consider a massage is there’s evidence that it lowers both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Hypertension and even pre-hypertension are early signs on cardiovascular disease.
Such symptoms should be dealt with as early as possible.
One study published by the National Institute of Health found a positive correlation between massage therapy and blood pressure. A study was conducted among 25 patients.
The group that underwent a massage had significantly lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure than the control group after 72 hours.
DIY Essential Oil Blends for massages
Nothing makes the world a beautiful place like essential oil blends. I tend to favor citrus blends. You may not be keen on the same scents, but the good news is there's a blend for everyone.
The Essentials Of Essential Oil Blends
You're free to mix and match fragrances as you please. However, it doesn't hurt to get a little guidance from the pros. Aromatherapists categorize oils into what they call notes, which are similar to musical notes, as follows.
Top note: This note creates the initial impression of the blend. It’s what makes the oil stand out. The top note doesn't tend to last long, but it often determines your attraction to the fragrance as a whole.
Fixative or base note: When the scent starts to fade, you're smelling the base note. It's the scent that still remains after a few hours and lingers for up to a day.
Body or middle note: Lasting from one to two hours, this note lasts a bit longer than the top note. However, it's not as long-lasting as the base note.
Essential Oil Blends And Recipes To Enhance Your Mood
The following blends are recommended for a relaxing and refreshing massage or just to have around the house. Neither blend is the be-all and end-all of essential oil blends, but you'll never know their worth until you give them a try.
Lavender, Clary Sage and Frankincense: The fresh, clean scent along with its skin hydrating and healing properties make frankincense suitable for a variety of essential oil blends.
Add the sweetness of clary sage along with lavender's relaxing qualities, and you'll want to take this blend with you everywhere.
Wild orange, frankincense and bergamot: This blend will uplift and cleanse your mind with the sweet, citrus smells of bergamot and wild orange. The frankincense adds a clean, fresh hint. Use to recharge and exhale.
Lavender and chamomile: Chamomile is known for its medicinal properties that include ridding the body of parasites and healing the digestive system. It's also quite effective as a sedative.
This powerful oil, alongside the calming properties of lavender, will send you into blissful relaxation and maybe even a long nap.
Ylang ylang, chamomile, bergamot and lavender: Oils from each of these herbs have powerful anti-stress properties. Ylang ylang has a soft floral scent, acts as an anti-depressant and increases blood circulation.
Meanwhile, calming lavender and chamomile work as a powerful duo to reduce stress. They each have subtle scents and are enhanced by the gentle sweet and spicy aroma of bergamot.
How To Use Essential Oils For Massages
Essential oils add a great deal of value to a massage. They can be used for massaging the whole body. Before you begin, you should prepare the essential oils of your choice by diluting them with a carrier oil.
Some of the best carrier oils include the following:
Avocado oil: This carrier oil has a plethora of health benefits to go along with its carrier properties. Rich in fatty acids, it's a powerful anti-aging oil that absorbs easily.
It's viscosity also makes it great for hydration. Avocado oil also has anti-inflammatory properties, anti-oxidants and vitamins A, D and E.
Coconut oil: Known to have a light, sweet scent, this oil has some impressive anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. In fact, it's one of the best oils to use for oil pulling to improve dental hygiene.
It's also a great carrier because it's got anti-oxidants and a long shelf life. Because the extraction process can be somewhat toxic, always aim for virgin and cold-pressed.
You should also consider fractionated coconut oil as a carrier since it's odorless and remains liquid at room temperature.
Olive oil: One of the oldest fruits known to mankind, the olive has proven to be a top-notch plant. Oil from the olive is rife with oleic acid, which enhances your cardiovascular system.
It's also effective at increasing your HDL (good cholesterol) while decreasing your LDL (bad cholesterol).
Because olive oil has a mild scent, it blends with essential oils easily. Furthermore, it's not as greasy as some other carrier oils. However, it's still a great moisturizer for skin, hair and nails.
Jojoba oil: Pronounced "hahoba," this one is a virtually scent free multi-purpose oil. It's been used for hydration and as an anti-fungal.
What makes it an amazing oil is its similarity to the oils in our skin. Therefore, jojoba oil can moisturize and nurture the scalp without oily buildup. In fact, it cleans the scalp as well.
Its light weight also makes it an ideal carrier oil. Furthermore, it has a long shelf life.
Full Body Massage
When you're desperate for some tension relief, you can't go wrong with a full body massage. No matter what massage technique you use, essential oils can add to the effect.
Some of the best essential oils to use for this purpose are lavender, chamomile and frankincense. They provide a deep relaxation and balance.
Don't be limited to just the former, however. Other essential oils can help, according to your needs and preferences. For instance, if you need pain relief, try peppermint, moringa and ginger, which are powerful anti-inflammatories.
Our feet are highly absorbent, so a foot massage with essential oils can be very effective. Not only will the massage itself enhance your overall well-being.
For instance, if you're having mental stress, massage the feet with calming and relaxing oils. You'll feel the effects much quicker.
A face massage can help to eliminate visible aging signs as well as heal tension and pain. For instance, the Tanaka massage involves a series of maneuvers that remove years form your face over time.
Use mild essential oils on the face to avoid irritation of skin and mucus membranes. You should use a light carrier oil, such as jojoba, that won't clog the pores.
7 Of The Best Essential Oils For Massages
We've perused a long list of essential oils to find the most beneficial ones to use with massages. Although our choices aren't set in stone, we do think you'll reap numerous benefits from using the following essential oils from time to time.
One thing you'll appreciate is our careful vetting to find oils from original, ancient and non-hybrid plants. Oils from these types of plants are naturally alkaline and safe.
You may have heard of the cleansing benefits of burning frankincense in spiritual rituals. When burned, it has a strong smell that is thought to ward off evil. As an oil, the smell is less potent.
In my opinion, frankincense (boswellia sacra) oil gets an "A" for its pleasant, refreshing scent. However, you don't have to agree. What's more important is its health benefits, which include the following:
- reduces inflammation
- helps with relaxation
Frankincense has also been found to help stop the growth of cancerous cells. A study found that frankincense suppressed the growth of cancer cells in the bladder.
Scientific name moringa oleifera, this plant has gained notoriety in the beauty arena. Moringa adds glow to your skin, as well as decreases the signs of aging.
Furthermore, it's useful for treating damaged skin and hair. Many users apply moringa oil to remove blackheads and to reduce the size of pores.
Health benefits of moringa include more energy, improved immunity, better sleep and optimal nervous system function.
The smell is very light and natural. Some say it's similar to the fresh leaves of a tree. This makes it a good oil to pair. However, don't expect it to serve as a top note oil. The smell won't last long or linger.
Some people just think of Italian cuisine when they smell oregano. However, it's much more than a popular culinary ingredient. You can just tell by its strong aroma that oregano oil is a beast when it comes to healing.
If you're suffering from any kind of infection, use oregano for relief. I like to keep a bottle in the cabinet at all times. Whenever I feel a cold coming on, this knocks it right out.
This powerful oil is also known to treat inflammatory conditions as well as hydrating the body. To get the best bang for your buck, search for wild oregano oil. This type contains higher amounts of carvacrol, which makes it a promising cancer fighter.
Be sure it's diluted before you apply. This one isn't recommended for use on the face, except in very small, diluted amounts. It may cause burning.
Whether you enjoy the sweet, citrus scent or the health benefits, lime oil deserves a place in your cabinet. The benefits are numerous:
- Boosts energy levels
- Stimulates appetite
- Reduces joint and muscle pain
- Reduces fever
- Acts as an astringent
- Treats digestive issues, such as diarrhea
The earthy, citrus aroma of thyme makes an aromatic addition to your herb garden. Plus, it keeps the bugs away. This Mediterranean herb contains many health benefits. Scientific name thymus vulgaris, this herb has been used for decades to treat a host of illnesses, including parasitic infections, cancer and arthritis.
Thyme also contains a powerful chemical called thymol. According to an article written by Marnie Clark, thymol is responsible for the host of health benefits.
A warm cup of chamomile tea is said to soothe the digestive system and promote healthy sleep. These benefits can be felt with the use of chamomile oil as well.
Furthermore, it may improve cardiovascular health by decreasing blood pressure and decreasing the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL).
Chamomile's light, flowery scent makes it ideal to use alone or in an essential oil blend.
I can recall misting my pillow with lavender oil to help me get much needed sleep. Lavender's calming qualities are much more potent in oil form. It's also beneficial in other ways, such as the following:
- Improves nervous system function
- Relieves pain
- Heals wounds
- Reduces signs of aging
- Improves brain function
Lavender has a distinctive floral scent. Therefore, it should be diluted with a carrier oil before use.
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Final Thoughts About Essential Oils for Massage Therapy
Massage therapy gets a bad rap for seeming indulgent, as opposed to therapeutic. Don't let the assumptions sway you into thinking you don't need a massage every now and them.
We're all stressed at times, and there's promising evidence that massages work for the whole body's benefit. Adding essential oils can enhance the effect. Furthermore, the mixing and matching of scents can be a fun activity.
Keep in mind that you don't have to follow the above recommendations exactly. Get creative, and discover what works best for you. First try what stands out to you, and go from there. There's no rush.
Just start by starting, and you'll see what all the hype is about.