The What, Why & How of Aromatherapy Massage
Can you imagine the Avengers and Justice League joining forces?! The very thought is enough to double your excitement levels and emotional rush! This is exactly what an aromatherapy massage does to you as well!
An aromatherapy massage culminates two powerful sensory experiences of the human body, which is nothing short of fireworks for the brain!
Read ahead to understand the physiology behind this potent self-care technique and its benefits.
SCIENCE BEHIND A MASSAGE
The skin is the largest organ of your body; covering a mass area more than any other organ. Our sense of touch and how our brain processes it makes us stand out in the animal kingdom. Basically, touch is what makes us human!
Right from newborns being encouraged skin-to-skin contact, to kids and adults in need of a warm hug occasionally - an effective good touch is indeed magical!
So, let's explore the magic behind a warm, good touch.
Simply put, a good, warm touch is a happy, pleasant electric current! Here's how: beneath your skin are nerve endings, which contain neuroreceptors. These neuroreceptors zap information to the brain depending on your environment and tactile experiences. Research shows that these neuroreceptors hit parts of the orbifrontal cortex in the brain--responsible for reward and compassion. An effective touch activates the vagus nerve too. The vagus nerve is a crucial cranial nerve responsible for digestion, heart rate, respiratory rate and a number of other functions. This nerve is the longest nerve in the body, extending from the brain right to the abdomen.
Further studies show a good therapeutic massage also releases endorphins or happy hormones, and oxytocin--also known as the cuddle hormone. In fact, a massage under an expert practitioner or a physiotherapist can drastically reduce pain in the body too.
SCIENCE BEHIND AROMATHERAPY
Apart from the skin, our sense of smell is another powerful sense organ. Imagine it to be the only employee in a company who has direct access to the CEO’s office, i.e. the brain! That’s because the olfactory nerve is the only nerve in the body that ends up directly in the brain--bypassing other nerves and the bloodstream.
Here’s how aromas trigger a flood of feel-good hormones. Molecules of aromas get lodged at the back of your nose where the olfactory receptor cells get triggered. When activated, they fire signals to the hippocampus and the amygdala in the brain through the olfactory tract. These two regions are responsible for your memories and emotions - a potent combination.
Therefore when you smell a particular aroma; let's say vanilla, it can trigger a flood of memories and emotion, such as your mom’s home-baked cookies.
AROMATHERAPY MASSAGE BENEFITS
A healing touch, be it at the spa or the confines of your home, when combined with aromas of essential oils; can alleviate your state of mind many times over! Essential oils are condensed essences extracted from different parts of a plant or tree (flower, fruit, bark, stem, leaves).
The molecular compounds of each essential oils differ. Some of these compounds act as a relaxant while some act as a energy booster.
In fact, an aromatherapy massage reduce depressive moods and anxiety in adults by releasing endorphins into our body. In other words, an aromatherapy massage is akin to a natural anti-depressant!
So the next time, you apply an aromatherapy oil or cream on your skin, take a few minutes to breathe in its aroma and knead it all over your body with gentle strokes. For a complete relaxed, rejuvenating experience, don’t think twice before heading to your nearest aromatherapy spa. It's a therapy that your body, brain, and mind will be forever grateful for!
Have you tried an aromatherapy massage yet? If yes, what was your experience like?