Aromatherapy uses essential oils extracted from plants to relieve symptoms of ill health and to aid well being. The oils can be massaged into the body, added to a bath or inhaled. There are several hundred essential oils, which are claimed to have different healing properties.
Your first aromatherapy session will last about 45 minutes to an hour. At the first session, the aromatherapist will take a detailed medical history and ask questions about your diet, lifestyle, and any health problems you may have. You may also be asked about any smells you particularly like or dislike. The therapist will then decide which essential oils are most appropriate for you. This may be one oil, or a blend of two or three, which will be mixed with a carrier oil such as almond or grapeseed oil. You will then be asked to undress and lie on a treatment couch, so that the therapist can massage the mixture in to your body using full-body massage. It will usually take place on a treatment couch, face down for one half and face up for the other. For a full massage, you will usually have to undress down to your underpants, although this isn’t compulsory. The therapist will then use towels to cover the parts of your body not being worked on. The essential oils are absorbed through the skin and start to work within about 20 minutes. The therapist may also give you advice about what oils you could use at home, for example, in the bath or as an inhalation in an oil burner. The number of treatments will depend on what you are trying to achieve. Most people feel some benefit after a couple of sessions.
Different essential oils have different affects on the body, some can energise you, others can leave you feeling relaxed and calm. Some people feel slightly disoriented or light-headed after an aromatherapy treatment.
There are few risks with aromatherapy, when a properly trained therapist does it. Side effects include headaches, feeling sick and allergic reactions. Some essential oils can aggravate skin conditions in susceptible people. A few oils, like those from the citrus family (e.g. orange, lemon, bergamot), can cause photosensitivity. This is where your skin burns more easily in sunlight because the oil reacts with ultraviolet light. Several oils shouldn’t be used during pregnancy and some may get into breast milk. Some of the oils are thought to interact with certain medicines, such as antibiotics for infection, antihistamines for allergies and sleeping pills. You will also be asked by your practitioner to drink plenty of water after your treatment in order to flush the toxins that have been released in your body.