AROMATHERAPY, THE SCIENCE BIT! I didn’t really like chemistry at school, which surprises me now because as an aromatherapist, I couldn’t do my job without it! Here’s why: All essential oils contain natural chemicals that give the oils their therapeutic properties. For example, essential oils high in the chemical group called esters will be the most relaxing, calming and balancing of all the aromatherapy oils, as esters help regulate the nervous system. Monoterpenes, which are present in almost all essential oils, inhibit the accumulation of toxins in the body, so a massage with an essential oil that is particularly high in limonene (such as grapefruit) will disperse lactic acid from muscles after exercise, reducing aches and stiffness. An understanding of the chemistry of essential oils is essential when creating an effective aromatherapy blend, which is why I know for scientific certainty that if you REALLY want to relax, a massage using bergamot, Roman chamomile and lavender is very hard to beat!
TEA TREE is not the first essential oil that springs to mind when thinking about relaxation. It is better known for its ability to stimulate the immune system – used in the early stages, tea tree can stop a cold in its tracks – and its unusual talent of being active against all three types of infectious organisms – bacteria, viruses and fungi.
Recently however, I have had much success using tea tree in blends designed to alleviate stress and anxiety. The tree from which this oil is extracted grows in Australia and it has a long history of being used by the aboriginal peoples for its healing properties. Of course, with holistic therapies, ‘healing’ often doesn’t just relate to the body, but also the mind, so perhaps this was another reason why this oil was so highly prized. Tea tree’s fresh, slightly medicinal aroma blends excellently with frankincense, another beautiful oil that dates back further than the earliest written records. Because frankincense has the ability to actually slow and deepen the breathing – it has long been used in meditation – a slow massage using a blend of tea tree, frankincense and lavender almost instantly induces feelings of deep relaxation, tranquillity and inner peace.