Integrating Essential Oils to Enhance Your Massage Experience

Hey all! Welcome to Massage Monday! I don’t know where you all are tuning in from, but here in Cheyenne it’s a cold, snowy day so it’s great to be here in this warm and relaxing massage room for the day :-)

Last week, we talked about stress and the severe toll it takes on every system of our body when not managed properly, as well as how massage can help counteract those effects.

Today we’re going to talk about incorporating essential oils into your massage for added stress relief, among so many other benefits.

So we’re going to do a little bit of education about the essential oils as a whole, and then dive into what I feel are the top 10 essential oils to add to any massage. Not necessarily all at once, but how adding a few drops of oil can enhance your massage experience.

Like massage, Essential oils have been used for thousands of years for their health benefits. They are not a fad. No, they cannot cure all ailments. And no, essential oils are not the answer to every single problem besetting modern medicine. But they are definitely a health force to be reckoned with. There’s a reason humanity has used them for thousands of years. And here are some solid reasons why essential oils are the real deal.

Before I get started on that, I do want to express that the oils I’m talking about here are 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils. These are not the oils you purchase in your local health food store. Like the protein powder or other supplements you buy, essential oils are not regulated by the FDA. The closest we get to a regulation is an FDA requirement that in order to label a bottle of essential oil as “pure”, the contents of that bottle must contain only 5% essential oil – leaving the remaining 95% as fillers such as coconut oil, alcohol, or propylene glycol. These oils will not give you the therapeutic benefits I will be describing. It would be like filling a glass 5% full of orange juice and 95% with water and expecting to get all of the benefits from a full glass of orange juice. You just won’t.

So before using essential oils or asking a massage therapist to use oils on you, make sure it’s an oil from a company you trust. Since there is no regulation, that puts a lot on to you, the consumer, to ensure you do your research and determine what company you trust. I have done my research, and the company I have chosen is Young Living essential oils. Not only are they the oldest essential oil company in the US, they own their own farms that you can visit and watch the distillation process, they do strict testing on all of their oils from the seed all the way through until the bottle is sealed – this is called their Seed to Seal promise. They would (and Have) thrown out full batches of essential oil that doesn’t meet their rigorous standards. They would rather go out of stock on a product than sell it to their members just to make a profit. That shows integrity.

OK, with that disclaimer out there, let’s go into the reasons that essential oils are the real deal.

1.      They are literally just the essence of plants. Essential oils are a volatile liquid distilled from botanicals such as flowers, shrubs, trees, roots, bushes & seeds. They contain the smell and characteristics of that plant, just in an uber-concentrated form. Each essential oil can contain hundreds of different naturally occurring chemical compounds so they provide support for every system of the body.

2.      They are amazingly versatile. I’m not exaggerating when I say that there is an oil for almost any ailment. Because of all the chemical compounds I just mentioned, each little bottle of essential oil can contain a wide array of health benefits.  Let’s take Lavender essential oil, for example. This oil can be used as a mood enhancer and counteract feelings of depression; it can reduce inflammation in the body; it can relieve pain, promote sleep, used as a topical disinfectant, promote healing in and on the body, improve circulation, and support a healthy respiratory system.

3.      Alternate to toxic cleaning. Not only are essential oils great to use in and on the body, you can literally start swapping out every single cleaning product in your home to live a purer lifestyle

4.      Don’t have nasty side effects. Everything in moderation, of course. There can be skin sensitivity to some oils, particularly the “hot” oils like Oregano, so using a carrier oil like coconut or grapeseed oil is key. But that can also happen with man-made products as well.     

If we take a look at pharmaceutical Anti-depressant medication, WebMD informs me that some of the common side effects are nausea, increased appetite & weight gain, loss of sex drive & erectile dysfunction, fatigue, insomnia, dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, agitation, irritability, & anxiety. Those last side-effects really get my goat. Someone takes a pill to help with their depression only to end up anxious and irritable. Interesting.

As mentioned, Lavender essential oil can help counteract the feelings of depression and its side effects include constipation, headaches, increased appetite, and skin irritation – and you would have to use a lot of lavender to experience those side effects.

5.      They have been used for thousands of years. I know I already said that, but there is something to be said about countless civilizations using essential oils as remedies.

These reasons are why I have essential oils in my life and their benefits are why I like to incorporate them into a massage. I will only incorporate oils when you, the client, would like me to. Just like you have the ability to say no to a physician who wants to prescribe you a medication, you have the ability to say no to adding essential oil to your treatment.

OK – here are the top 10 essential oils (5 singles and 5 blends) I would recommend incorporating into your session. Caveat – there are so many more oils than this – Young Living offers 84 singles and 81 blends so narrowing it down to 5 of each is very difficult for me! But here goes:

Top 5 singles:

1.      Lavender – in addition to the benefits I already spoke about, lavender is calming, relaxing and balancing. It promotes tissue regeneration, improves concentration, mental acuity and cognitive performance. It also helps with hair loss, menstrual problems and PMS. It’s a staple the world of spas, massage clinics, and households for its many uses.

2.      Peppermint – Peppermint is invigorating and stimulating, supports healthy digestion, supports healthy respiratory function, reduces back and headache pain, reduces inflammation and is great for arthritis, curbs the appetite

3.      Copaiba – Very powerful at reducing inflammation in the body so is great for arthritis and rheumatism, it supports healthy brain function, reduces anxiety, supports healthy skin, soothes a sore throat and helps make mucus less thick & sticky so it’s easier to cough up.

4.      Frankincense – Stimulates the immune system, supports healthy respiratory function, reduces inflammation, reduces feelings of depression, muscle relaxing, uplifts the spirits, increases spiritual awareness. Studies have shown Frankincense’s ability to thwart the growth of tumors and kill cancer cells in the bladder. This is an amazing oil

5.      Helichrysum – helps prevent blood clots and is great to use on varicose veins, increases circulation, stimulates and supports liver function, regenerates and supports healthy nerve function. This oil is great to add to the Neural Manipulation work that I do.

Top 5 Blends:

1.      Peace & Calming – Promotes relaxation and deep sense of peace and emotional well-being, dampens tension and uplifts spirits. Reduces depression, anxiety, stress and insomnia

2.      Valor – Balances energies, instills courage, confidence & self esteem. It helps the body self-correct its balance and alignment.

3.      Stress Away – Brings feelings of peace and tranquility to both children and adults, helps to relieve daily stress and nervous tension. Improves mental response, restores equilibrium, promotes relaxation and lowers hypertension.

4.      PanAway -  Reduces pain and inflammation, increases circulation, and accelerates healing. Relieves swelling and discomfort from arthritis, sprains, muscle spasms, cramps, bumps, and bruises.

5.      Deep Relief – Relieves muscle soreness and tension, soothes sore joints and ligaments, helps calm stressed nerves, and reduces inflammation.

There you have it! Whew! As I mentioned, there are so many more oils that I have available for use in my practice, including all of the oils used in the amazing Raindrop Technique that I have just begun offering. If you have an ailment, I have a massage and an oil that can help :-)