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An aromatherapy massage is a massage which is performed with aromatic oils. Some people believe that certain essential oils carry health benefits, ranging from lavender for relaxation to cinnamon to promote circulation. Others simply enjoy the experience of a scented massage, and the lingering aromas which hover around the skin in the hours after the massage. Many massage therapists and spas offer aromatherapy massage, and some allow clients to bring in their own oils.
Aromatherapy is a branch of alternative medicine which focuses on the uses of various scents for therapeutic benefits. Aromatherapy may be performed with incense, oil diffusers, or scented oils applied directly to the body, depending on the practitioner and the need. Many aromatherapists promote the use of aromatherapy to cope with emotional conditions like stress, sadness, irritability, and so forth, and some also suggest that exposure to specific scents can promote healthy digestion, improve circulation, and offer a range of other benefits, although this has not been proved.
A typical aromatherapy massage is performed like a basic Swedish massage, with scented oils rather than unscented versions. The massage therapist may also use an oil diffuser in the room to deliver a slow dose of aromatherapy, or to address concerns about skin irritation, as some essential oils can cause contact dermatitis. Other styles of massage may also be combined with aromatherapy, such as hot stone massage or deep tissue massage.
The goal of an aromatherapy massage is usually to relax the client and promote a general state of well being. Before the session begins, the therapist will talk with the client about his or her emotional state, and select essential oils which are best suited to the client's condition. In most regions, massage therapists are not allowed to give medical advice, so therapists who offer aromatherapy massage are usually very careful about how they word the conversation about the client's condition, focusing on abstract benefits of aromatherapy like peace of mind rather than specific medical applications.
There are some people for whom aromatherapy massage is contraindicated. Pregnant women should not receive aromatherapy massage both because they are very sensitive to odors, and because some essential oils can trigger contractions and early labor, which is undesirable. Aromatherapy massage is also not recommended for people with extremely sensitive skin, as the oils may cause irritation, or to people who are sensitive to smell because of a medical condition, as the odors may become overwhelming.