1874, from the French massage: "friction of kneading". Or, if you prefer something a little less sore-sounding, from the Arabic massa: "to touch, feel, handle”.
The use of oil in massage dates back at least 3,000 years. It’s mentioned in the writings of Herodicus, Homer, Plato, Socrates and Hippocrates, and in the Bible’s Book of Exodus, as a Godly gift to Moses. But it was in the 1930s when its positive effects were examined with a rigorous scientific scrutiny by the Austrian biochemist Marguerite Maury, who eventually published her Le Capital Jeunesse, or ‘The Secret of Life and Youth’, in 1961. “To live, to be alive,” she wrote, “means to be in motion, to evolve, to transform oneself and transmute things according to the alchemy of the spirit and the body.”
Her research had convinced her that essential oils could form a therapeutic bridge between a human being and the ‘virtues’ present in their external natural environment. “It is not surprising, therefore, that these virtues should exercise the most disparate influences on the individual” she said. “Applied to the skin these essences regulate the activity of the capillaries and restore vitality to the tissues.” She believed that essential oil blends should reflect the personality and character of the person seeking holistic balance, and be “designed to reflect the weaknesses and violence of an individual… to compensate for the deficiencies and reduce the excess.”
Doesn’t a lovely ‘kneading’ of the shoulders, with an oil infused with ‘essences’ and ‘virtues’, sound good right now? Many of us have probably developed some unfortunate posture habits working at home in isolation, not to mention a store of internalized anxiety and nervous tension (in addition to our baked-in “weaknesses and violence”).
Thankfully, aromatherapy massage can smooth away a variety of physical and emotional woes. And by combining essential oils in different aromatherapy massage recipes, you can find new ways to enjoy the comforting bliss of touch.
Before receiving or administering a massage with essential oils, we first need to take note of some important basic safety considerations.
· Always use a carrier oil, such as Jojoba, Sweet Almond, Coconut, or Avocado, to dilute the essential oils. One drop of essential oil in a teaspoon of carrier oil is a safe ratio (7-10 drops per 20ml).
· Never use oils on broken skin. Stop using the oil immediately if the skin reacts with a rash, soreness or itching.
· Pregnant women are advised to use essential oils with caution and avoid the following essential oils: Aniseed, Basil, Birch, Parsley, Sage, Tarragon and Wintergreen.
· Remember to seek out a licensed massage therapist if you require deep tissue massage or sports massage for specific muscle or tissue injuries.
When you’re ready to knead (be gentle!), here are our top aromatherapy massage oil recipes (with number of drops per 20ml of oil):
1) Muscle Relax Massage Oil Recipe
Sweet Marjoram and Chamomile are both known to relax muscles: perfect for a post-workout rub-down. Add Peppermint for a reviving top note.
2) Eased Pain Massage Oil Recipe
For general aches and pains, a warming combination of Juniper and Ginger works wonders.
3) Muscle Soreness Massage Oil Recipe
A more stubborn soreness will respond well to Myrrh; combine with Rosemary, and the anti-inflammatory Helichrysum, for some potent pain relief.
4) Alleviation Massage Oil Recipe
For a refreshing midweek post-catnap mini massage, Geranium and Pine are ideal partners for keeping you relaxed but alert.
5) Mind Cleansing Massage Oil Recipe
Basil, Juniper and Lemon is a stimulating, mind-clearing motivator when the weekend still feels a long way away.
6) Invigorating Massage Oil Recipe
Need a Friday night energizer? Try Clary Sage, Bergamot and Ylang Ylang, and kick those heels off.
7) Stress Relief Massage Oil Recipe
If the workweek has been a little overwhelming, stay home instead with Lavender, Valerian and Sandalwood for a mood-lifting stress-buster.
8) Clarity Massage Oil Recipe
Still can’t sleep? Lavender and tranquil Frankincense will take you there. Add Cinnamon to banish any lingering end-of-week negativity.
9) Deep Breath Massage Oil Recipe
Frankincense also combines beautifully with Eucalyptus for a breath-clearing chest-rub.
10) Aromatic Massage Oil Recipe
And finally… what could be more romantic than a sensual aromatherapy massage with essential oils? Jasmine (3 drops), Rose (3 drops) and Vanilla (2 drops) are all known for their aphrodisiac properties. ‘Handle’ with caution!
If you’d like to know more about how to protect your skin when using essential oils, you can find out more about Cosmetic Allergies.
Want to learn about the different essential oils you can use in your massage oils? Check out the LabLearning Aromatherapy Material information by clicking here.
For a great listen on how essential oils can aid with reaching optimum health, try this episode of the LabAroma podcast here.