Massage Therapy & Aromatherapy
I can think of Worse Medicines!
It always amazes me how many people have never had a massage! Therapeutic touch has to be one of the most simple but effective therapies, beneficial for a wide range of conditions. It should be available on prescription – it really is a form of medicine!
It's all in the Senses
The connection between the sensory nerves and the brain and the other organs is incredibly powerful, so simple senses such as touch and smell can have far reaching therapeutic effects. An aromatherapy massage can balance the entire body and mind. From the minute the skin/muscles sense touch or the olfactory nerves pick up on a specific smell – a chain reaction starts in the body. Beneficial endorphins and hormones flood the system. Touch and smell trigger nerve impulses that can travel the body or brain. For example, did you know that nerves in your back innervate different organs in the body from your liver to your gallbladder to your heart? Did you know that when inhaled, essential oil particles enter the nose, connect with our olfactory nerves, which trigger impulses to the limbic system in the brain (our emotional control centers) - immediately affecting our emotional state?! The entire nervous system can be either stimulated or relaxed with the combination of physical touch and herbal/aromatherapy. I'll add more re: benefits below.
Subtle Healing Energy
Before I do talk more about the benefits of massage, I also wanted to talk about another dimension of physical touch because a therapeutic healing also takes place on a more subtle level too. Most massage therapists will vouch for the subtle exchange of energy during a massage – a type of energetic transfer which transcends physical touch. Some things we can't fully explain, but we do know that humans are energetic beings, not just physical beings. Our nerves fire electric signals. Our cells rely on energy and they communicate with energy. It's just physics! So... also consider this when choosing a massage therapist: you have to feel comfortable and have a connection to your therapist in order for treatment to have the most effect. It's simple, if you don't like your therapist then you are not likely to get as much benefit from the treatment, no matter how good the technique is! Sometimes the energy just does not 'feel right'. And that my friends is just chemistry! Trust in that. OK science lesson over 😉 The therapeutic relationship is the same as all connections we have throughout life - with family, friends, strangers. We can't connect to everyone. So don't just consider qualifications, look for a therapist with whom you feel comfortable and secure. You may be lucky first time, or you may have to shop around until you find a good fit for you.
Anyway, naturally I'm a firm believer that a regular massage can be one of the most beneficial things you can do for your health. So try swapping your habit of a daily Starbucks for a monthly massage...that money will go towards a far better health investment in the longrun!
Now for a few Proven benefits of Massage...
- Improved circulation and clearance of toxins
- Facilitates lymphatic drainage and fluid retention
- Improvement in skin tone
- Reduction in muscular tension – an obvious benefit.
- Beneficial for Fibromyalgia
- Post-exercise recovery
- Improves sleep quality
- Better energy and concentration (prob also a result of better sleep and less tension)
- Immune health – as the lymphatic system is where the immune system lives! Massage has been shown to boost lymphocytes - a type of immune cell which helps to fight off invaders.
- Stress reduction – release of feel good endorphins and a reduction in stress hormones such as cortisol.
- Reduction in pain – again due to the release of feel good endorphins
- Reduction in stress-related disorders/issues (such as anxiety, hypertension, IBS, constipation & migraines)
- Improved skin quality – oxygenates the skin and stimulates collagen production
- May help with Depression, & Chronic Fatigue
& so much more!
Just think of it this way...
So we know that massage has a powerful effect on the nervous system and dramatically helps to reduce the negative effects of stress on the body. We also know that stress contributes to or directly causes many diseases/symptoms. When you consider that it underpins so much suffering and degeneration in body and mind, then it makes perfect sense that anything which calms the nervous system down/reduces the stress response will thus also help to reduce the risk of nearly ANY chronic disease going. Potent stuff. No risk of interactions with medications. No pills to swallow. Feels great. So all in all, I'd say a pretty good option when it comes to medicine for both body and mind!
My Approach: Holistic Massage
Choose between deep tissue or relaxation and I will tailor your treatment using herbal oils, aromatherapy inhalations and plant extracts (see below)
The benefits of massage can be amplified by using plants in the treatment. To increase the therapeutic effects, I use a range of herbal oils/ointments/creams/poultices/essential oils, tailored to your particular requirements and constitution. These preparations can be beneficial for a number of complaints: from acne/oily skin to dry/mature skin, muscle tension, cellulite, varicose veins, poor circulation, aching joints, sprains/strains, neuralgia, stress/anxiety etc etc...
Plants can be very powerful when applied topically in this manner. Your skin absorbs much of what you put on it and this is just another way of getting those beneficial plant chemicals into your body, where they can get to work! Aromatherapy (the use of essential oils), as I've already mentioned, has additional benefits when inhaled, especially when it comes to the nervous system or for the treatment of acute respiratory tract infections.
Of course, should you have any allergies to any plants/essential oils or aversions to certain smells please advise your practitioner beforehand!
Leading on from the above, there are some cases when massage in itself is contraindicated or the treatment may need to be modified, so a full health disclosure is necessary beforehand. Generally massage therapy is safe but be sure to advise your practitioner if you have any health conditions (such as cancer or cardiovascular disease) or if you are pregnant/there is any chance that you may be.