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The Aromatic Message

By Shellie Enteen, RA, BA, LMBT

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Aromatic Abdominal Massage

In massage school, we learned the proper draping and general techniques for working the abdominal muscles, including the pattern and use of vibration to help the body's elimination process through the large intestine. The abdominal area is one that is often overlooked in a regular massage session, though special techniques might be employed when the abdominal muscles provide a source of relief for muscle and joint pain. However, there are other times when knowledge and application of abdominal massage techniques can truly boost health and quality of life for your client.

When a client or other individual reports having difficulty with proper elimination, adding certain essential oils to a massage blend specifically for that area can boost positive results. In our stressful world, problems with elimination can exist for many. It is often seen, and sometimes expected to occur, in adults as they age. A sluggish metabolism, lack of exercise and diet all play a part. On the more subtle emotional level, there have been losses and there is fear of more to come, causing an unconscious resistance to letting go. Not having healthy, regular eliminations can cause many other issues for the body, as well as the mind. The use of essential oils can allow you to address both the physical and emotional levels in relieving this problem.

Real World Example

I had a client who was in her late 70s and required weekly massage for general stiffness and circulation issues. One day, she revealed that she was seeing a doctor who had not helped her with a chronic problem. She was upset because she didn't know what to do about it now. Apparently, no matter what she tried, she had not had a bowel movement in more than four weeks. I told her that the next time I came to see her, I would be happy to give her an abdominal massage with specific essential oils for this problem. She had already experienced the relaxing and anxiety relieving effects of her regular aromatherapy massage, so she agreed to let me try.

aroma oil - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark I arrived the following week with a small bottle of a specific blend to relieve constipation that I chose from essential oils suggested in the Clinical Index of The Aromatherapy Practitioner Manual, Vol II, by Sylla Sheppard Hanger. From the list for Laxative properties, I selected sweet fennel (Foeniculum vulagre var. dulce), ginger (Zingiber officinale), sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana), rosemary verbenone (Rosmarinus officinalis var. verbenone) and I added a drop of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis var. dulcis) for overall encouragement, digestive health and to create a more pleasing aroma.

In 1/4 oz of carrier oil, I added one drop of fennel, ginger and rosemary verbenone, and two drops each of sweet marjoram and sweet orange. I applied this blend using traditional massage techniques for the abdomen and the vibrational pattern for the large intestine. I gave the client the remaining blend to apply in the same circular motion over the next few days, if she felt the need.

When I returned, she reported the miracle. It wasn't long after I had left her home that she began releasing, and she had continued to do so daily. She appeared relieved both physically and emotionally by this change for the better and was going to start a program of water exercise. I asked if she had mentioned this to the Doctor. She had, and told me the usual response I would hear after a client had reported other amazing results using essential oils to their physician. He was impressed and encouraging, but not at all interested in studying aromatherapy.

It is important to remember that knowledge of the client and their physiological and psychological make-up at the time is the key to choosing the essences that will work best. The essences I chose have other effects on body, mind and spirit that were also helpful for this specific client. I strongly suggest that, instead of copying the blend I made to use whenever necessary, research a blend for this problem if it is presented, taking other effects of the essential oils listed into account for the specific person involved.

The blend I used might have great results, but there are other essences suggested in the Manual as well as in Chapter 31 in The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy by Salvatore Battaglia. This chapter focuses on the digestive system and gives other suggestions for essences not mentioned in my blend, such as carrot seed (Daucus carota), cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum zeylanicum), peppermint (Mentha x piperita) and pine (Pinus silvestris). It also gives an overview of the issue of constipation and other suggestions for the problem that might be suggested to the client. The chapter on digestion will suggest aromatherapy techniques for all the other issues of this system, too.

As with all aspects of using essential oils for self or others, remember to follow proper dilution and safety procedures. Use of certain essential oils may not be appropriate for constipation that occurs during pregnancy or in children under the age of ten.

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