By Anna Lynn Sibal
Essential oils photo © Irene Treston
In aromatherapy, it is believed that smell plays a large part in boosting the body’s ability to heal itself. Practitioners of aromatherapy make use of essential oils, which are oils extracted from aromatic plants, to treat certain conditions of the body. Essential oils evaporate easily, and are easily absorbed through the skin. They are, however, highly concentrated, and they can irritate the skin through direct contact, and so they are mixed into carrier oils before they are applied onto the skin.
Essential oils have their own properties; different kinds of essential oils affect the body differently. Some essential oils can relax the body while others can energize it. Some are good for treating skin problems while some are used for treating ailments like migraine, indigestion, breathing problems and such. For essential oils to take effect in the body, they need to be smelled or absorbed through the skin.
Below is a list of common essential oils used in massage and for what they are used.
Basil. For relieving respiratory conditions like colds and clogged sinuses, migraine and mental fatigue, constipation, insect bites and nervous tension. Not to be used by people with sensitive skin.
Bergamot. For treating boils, acne and abscesses; colds and cold sores; flatulence and lack of appetite. Makes the skin more sensitive to sunlight, and so should not be used before going out of doors.
Black pepper. Good for digestive problems like constipation, heartburn, stomachache and flatulence. Also used for muscular pains. Not good for sensitive skin.
Chamomile. For depression, nervous tension, fatigue and headaches; digestive problems like flatulence and indigestion; skin problems like acne and boils.
Citronella. For stomach pains and rheumatism.
Cedarwood. For skin and hair problems like acne, cellulite and dandruff; arthritis; breathing problems.
Clary sage. For fatigue and depression; muscle aches and cramps; respiratory problems. A sedative, so it should not be used before doing activities that require focus.
Clove. For muscle aches and tension, as well as colds. Highly irritating to the skin if used alone.
Cypress. For treating oily skin and hair; muscle pain and menstrual cramps.
Eucalyptus. For colds, headaches, sinusitis and other respiratory problems; muscle aches and rheumatism. Should be avoided by people with high blood pressure.
Frankincense. For nervous tension, colds and breathing problems; also good for slowing aging in skin.
Ginger. For improving blood circulation, as well as digestion. Also used for relieving breathing and respiratory problems.
Grapefruit. For lifting anxiety and depression; also helps treat digestive problems. It makes the skin sensitive to sunlight and should therefore not be used before getting exposed to the sun.
Hyssop. For stomachaches, coughs and colds, as well as coughs and cold.
Jasmine. For headaches and anxiety, and for treating sensitive skin. Too much, however, can be irritating to the skin.
Juniper. For rheumatism and muscle cramps, as well as acne and cellulite. Not good for people afflicted with kidney problems.
Lavender. Encourages proper blood circulation; used for rheumatism, muscle pains and tension; relieves anxiety; treats skin problems like sunburn, acne, dandruff, psoriasis and eczema; also helps with sinusitis and insomnia. Not to be used by people with low blood pressure.
Lemon. For treating headaches and migraine, constipation and other digestive problems; rheumatism; cellulite and varicose veins. Should not be applied before exposing the skin to direct sunlight, as it makes the skin more sensitive to sun exposure.
Lemongrass. For fatigue, stress and muscle cramps, as well as indigestion.
Marjoram. For digestive problems like constipation, stomachaches and flatulence; insomnia and anxiety; arthritis, rheumatism and muscle pain.
Myrrh. For rejuvenating the body’s immune system; for digestive problems and respiratory problems.
Neroli. For relaxation and relief of panic attacks, headaches and insomnia. For treating dry, dull or sensitive skin; digestive problems; stress and depression.
Orange. For slowing down skin aging and removing cellulite; for treating digestive problems; for calming feelings of stress and anxiety; for inducing sleep.
Peppermint. A stimulant and refresher, relieves fatigue, migraines and muscle pain; for treating nausea and clogged sinuses.
Pine. For respiratory problems as well as rheumatism and muscle cramps.
Rose. For treating dry, delicate or sensitive skin; insomnia, headache, depression and stress.
Rosemary. For encouraging proper circulation and digestion; for treating cellulite and oily skin.
Sandalwood. For boosting the immune system; for relieving fatigue, anxiety and stress; is said to be good for treating impotence and increase virility. A sedative, and so should not be used when the mood is down.
Tea tree. For inflamed skin or skin afflicted with fungal infections; dandruff, sunburn and skin blemishes. Boosts immune system.
Thyme. For enhancing memory; for treating fatigue, stress and depression; rheumatism and muscle pain; for coughs, colds and other respiratory problems. Should not be used by people with high blood pressure.
Ylang-ylang. For relieving stress and anxiety, intestinal problems and lack of sexual energy.