I love incorporating aromatherapy and reflexology into all my Thai massage sessions but I also offer focused sessions on aromatherapy and/or reflexology and find both to be healing for a wide variety of conditions. Aromatherapy and reflexology are holistic treatments with ancient roots. A holistic treatment means it views the individual’s body, mind and spirit as a whole unit. Instead of suppressing symptoms like most modern medicine, it aims to target the cause of imbalances or illness within the body.
Nobody has truly determined the roots of Aromatherapy but it was used by the Egyptians, Chinese and Greeks in ancient times. The actual term "aromatherapy" first originated in 1937 when French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse invented the word after a burn incident spurred his curiosity about the healing power of essential oils. On the heels of Gattefosse's "discovery" that lavender oil helped to cure his burn, French surgeon Jean Valnet used essential oils to help heal soldiers' wounds in World War II, proving the medical benefits of aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy can be administered three different ways; through inhalation, through topical application, or by consuming the oils internally. The sense of smell is the most primitive of all our senses and it is linked to some of the oldest and deepest parts of the brain. As we breathe in the aromas of the essential oils, it can trigger emotional and even physical responses and allow vivid memory recall of people or places. When we breathe in aromatic molecules, they travel to the top of the nose where the molecules come in contact with specialized nerve cells called Olfactory cells. These cells have tiny hairs which recognize a specific aroma through the ‘lock and key’ process. This means each hair will only recognize a specific aroma. This process produces nerve impulses which travel to the limbic system, the part of the brain which is most concerned with survival, instincts and emotions.
It is thought by scientists that the activity of the nerve signal passing through this region causes physical and emotional changes by altering brain chemistry. The essential oil molecules are also small enough to pass through the skin and enter the bloodstream, this application has a stronger effect on the body than inhalation alone. During an aromatherapy session we generally use the oils through inhalation and apply them topically to the hands, feet, and along the spine. There are specific protocols used to improve different health issues in the body or aromatherapy could be used for overall stress relief and relaxation.
Aromatherapy works on the senses to help calm the central nervous system while reflexology is physically stimulating the peripheral nerves in the extremities to help relax the central nervous system. Like aromatherapy, modern reflexology is based on an ancient form of therapy too. There is evidence of some form of foot and hand therapy being practiced in China as long ago as 2330 B.C. and also at the same time in Egypt, as depicted in the tomb of Ankmahor. Reflexology was heavily studied starting in 1915. In May 1939, Dr Charles Epstein reported and acknowledged that reflexology worked. However, while they knew it worked, doctors were not interested in using it, because reflexology was too time consuming and they could not make as much money.
Our reflexology sessions are focused on the lower legs and feet and are mainly used to release tension and stress. Stress can be a huge factor in worsening many health issues and not dealing with that build up can create blocked energy in your body. Reflexology works to release this tension and therefore relieve this energy blockage. It allows your body to achieve a level of equilibrium, putting it into an ideal state to tackle anything from major to minor health concerns. On top of releasing this stress, a foot massage also helps increase blood circulation, release toxins, reduce and diminish pain and can induce a deep state of relaxation.
Reflexology and aromatherapy massage are both relaxing to experience, which helps calm body and mind. This allows the Parasympathetic Nervous System to take over from the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). The SNS kicks in when the body is in pain or under stress – what is commonly known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. When the body is in parasympathetic mode, it can rest and start the process of repair. Reflexology and aromatherapy can benefit people of all ages and, depending on the length of time a condition has been present, can improve or eliminate many ailments during a course of four to six weekly treatments. If you are curious about whether reflexology could help you feel better, please feel free to email me any questions!