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The Massage Encyclopedia: Aromatherapy Massage

Updated: Feb 21

Aromatherapy, as the name suggests, involves the usage of different kinds of essences or fragrances to complement the healing power of massage therapy. It can be included in almost any kind of relaxation massage known in Christchurch; keeping in mind that different kinds of massage techniques are required to treat different issues. Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, and Hot Stone massage are three of the most well-known styles of massage therapies that can also involve using essential oils.

The essential oils are usually blended with a carrier oil and used as part of the relaxation massage in Christchurch, or they can be added to a diffuser and inhaled while the massage is applied to a client.

What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is a subset of phytotherapy - a type of therapy implemented for treating or preventing health problems with medicines made from plants or herbs - that makes use of essential oils and other volatile compounds that are extracted from aromatic plants.

These are the types of plants that, through the process of photosynthesis and exposure to sunlight, are capable of producing different types of essence. The primary focus of this branch of study is meant for the medicinal, curative, and preventative applications of essential oils.

The essential oils are extracted from a plant part (such as the leaves, flowers or bark), mostly through a steam distillation process - a process that involves the distillation of a liquid, using a series of steam currents, to purify liquids that aren’t very volatile and insoluble in water. However, only the essences of citrus pericarps, such as orange or mandarin zest, might be produced through the process of mechanical cold pressing.

The term “aromatherapy” was coined in the year 1935 by René-Maurice Gattefossé, a chemist from Lyon, who did many satisfying personal and scientific studies with essential oils. Another scientist, Charles Chamberland, a biologist who worked as an assistant to Louis Pasteur, had already investigated the remarkable antibacterial effect of these compounds.

However, Hippocrates was known to have used aromatic vapours to cure patients when he practised medicine in the 5th century BCE.

History of aromatherapy

There’s evidence that the use of aromatic plants for therapeutic purposes dates back to 3500 B.C. when the use of aromatics in medicine, perfume, and religious rituals was a common practice. As mentioned earlier, the term was coined by the French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse after he claimed to have successfully cured a burn using lavender essential oil.

Plants and plant extracts have been used empirically for thousands of years. You can find evidence of this in India, Pakistan, Iran, China, and Ancient Egypt. However, the study of essential oils didn't start until 1830 in Grasse, France, a city known for its perfume makers and distillation. It rapidly piqued the interest of some of the world's finest scientists, including Louis Pasteur. Charles Chamberland, a student of Pasteur and his assistant, started measuring the antiseptic effects of oregano, clove, and cinnamon essential oils on anthrax as early as 1887.

In 1929, a Lyon-based pharmacist named Sévelinge provided evidence that certain essential oils possessed antimicrobial properties. After that, during the 1950s, a military physician in Indochina used them in order to heal injured service members.

The practice of aromatherapy was gaining prominence as a relaxation massage around the world, and there was no stopping that!

Pierre Franchomme, a pharmacologist and aromatologist, made a big step forward in 1975 when he suggested taking into account the concept of "chemotype," which he called the "true chemical ID card" of a plant. This card lists the key aromatic compounds that make each plant unique and how they affect its properties.

The practice of aromatherapy is becoming the focus of research conducted in modern scientific laboratories. It is recognised as a separate branch of medicine. There are almost 17,000 articles on aromatherapy that have been published in reputable scientific journals throughout the world.

Aromatherapy massage: Treating various ailments

Aromatherapy massage can help alleviate the symptoms of a wide range of medical ailments, especially, muscular or any other physical aches and pains.

When paired with essential oils (like lavender or bergamot, etc.) aromatherapy massage is also known to help reduce anxiety, depression and sleeplessness. Since our sense of smell and emotions are very closely linked, this relaxation massage, a popular therapy in Christchurch, can tap into your emotions to improve your mental health and help you sleep better.

Studies have also shown that people who are undergoing cancer treatment can benefit from aromatherapy massage. Such patients who received treatment in the form of two aromatherapy massages per week experienced decreased levels of stress and anxiety, while also seeing an improvement in the functioning of their immune systems.

Aromatherapy massage has also been shown to help with menstruation cramps. According to a study that was conducted in 2015, the level of pain that was experienced by participants was dramatically reduced when they received a rose oil massage on the first day of their cycle.

What are the benefits of aromatherapy massage?

Aromatherapy combines the healing powers of a relaxation massage with the advantages of aromatic essential oils. It not only has a calming and therapeutic effect, but also improves the functions in your body, such as the circulatory system, the neurological system, the lymphatic system, and also the musculoskeletal system.

Helps you relax and feel good.

Your ability to smell is deeply linked to the limbic system of your brain, which is part of your brain that regulates your feelings and moods. Thanks to this link, aromatherapy massage can directly access your feelings and alter your state of mind.

During this type of relaxation massage in Christchurch, inhaling essential oils such as lavender or bergamot can aid in soothing your mind and your emotions, which can induce relaxation and allow you to de-stress.

Essential oils, such as grapefruit or orange, when added to a carrier oil or diffuser, are also known to boost our general well-being, albeit making it both soothing and energizing for the receiver.

For treating physical pain

When combined with a carrier oil, these essential oils can help relieve you from pain or inflammation when massaged on your skin. These massage oils can truly help you feel relaxed while soothing your muscles and improving circulation, which eventually promotes healing and speeds up the recovery process.

For example, Peppermint oil is great for reducing pain and inflammation because it has properties that make you feel more awake and cool you down.

Aromatherapy massage for healing

Your entire system, including your mind, might greatly benefit from the therapeutic effects of aromatherapy massage. During this type of relaxation massage, the therapist will work on the soft tissues, using various massage techniques in order to promote healing. This will happen as any present pain is decreased, thus lowering inflammation, releasing tension, and boosting circulation. The addition of essential oils only amplifies the overall impact.

The essential oil of sweet marjoram is one of the most potent oils for encouraging healing in both the physical and mental aspects of the body. In addition to its benefits for relaxation, it also has antispasmodic properties, so it can ease muscle tension.

Essential oils for restful sleep

Aromatherapy massage can help people with troubled sleeping. For example, lavender essential oil has been proven to have a calming and sleep-inducing effect.

In 2017, a study looked at how nurses who worked shifts felt after getting an aromatherapy massage with lavender essential oil. Those who received the therapy reported having improved quality sleep and less trouble falling or staying asleep.

Top-quality carrier oils for use in aromatherapy

In order to avoid skin irritation, essential oils should never be applied neat (i.e., utilised without carrier oil). It’s important to mix the essential oil with a carrier oil before applying it to the skin in order to render it safe for application to the skin.

A carrier oil is a type of oil that is derived from plants and is produced by pressing the fatty component of a plant, such as the seeds or nuts until the oil is extracted. There are many different kinds of carrier oils, and each one offers a unique combination of advantages to one's health and therapeutic capabilities. Your choice of carrier oil will depend on your personal tastes and any allergies or sensitivities you may have.

Different carrier oils have different shelf lives. For example, sweet almond oil can only be used for up to six months, while jojoba oil can be used for up to five years. Carrier oils will go bad faster if they are exposed to heat and light, so you should store your carrier oil in a cool, dark place to make it last as long as possible.

For your understanding we’ve mentioned some of our favourite carrier oils below:

  • Hydrate and revitalise with avocado oil.

  • Coconut oil: the secret to supple, satiny skin.

  • Grapeseed oil is light but strong.

  • Sweet almond oil makes skin soft and keeps it hydrated.

  • Jojoba oil: Detox and rejuvenate.

Safety during an aromatherapy massage

Even though aromatherapy is widely popular, you must remember that some oils can cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction. If your skin starts to get red or itchy during the massage, stop right away and wash it off. If the symptoms don't go away, consult your doctor immediately. None of the oils has been reported to be deadly, but you must take precautionary care by checking with your doctor.

If you have a medical condition or are pregnant, you should talk to your doctor before starting an aromatherapy massage to make sure it's safe for you.


People all over the world enjoy relaxation massage because of the numerous health benefits the essential oils and the therapy offer. From a Hot Stone massage with the calming smells of lavender & bergamot to the energising smells of eucalyptus & peppermint oil applied during a Deep Tissue massage, the combinations are great, both in terms of number and experience.

If you want to book a session on our relaxation massage in Christchurch, feel free to contact us.

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