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Cascade Quarterly News Archives
Winter 2010 - Volume 4, Issue 4

Feature Article: What is Aromatherapy?

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In this issue:

1) Feature Article: What is Aromatherapy?
2) Essential Oils: The beginning of the journey
3) How does it work?
4) About Cascade Massage Therapy

1) Feature Article: What is Aromatherapy?

In 1997, I completed a certification course in Aromatherapy and holistic bodywork. This pivotal moment changed the course of my career and paved the way for a lifelong passion for helping people to find comfort through massage therapy and bodywork. So it is with great reverence that I appreciate and integrate Aromatherapy into my practice and my life.

The term 'Aromatherapy' is deceiving, implying that the smell of something will fix your ails. Though the action of inhaling the aromatic molecules of the essential oils is a part of the modality, the science is much more complex than that.

In this article I hope to provide some clarity on what Aromatherapy is and how it may help you. For those of you are regular recipients of my treatments, you will know that I often integrate aromatherapy into my work, both by blending specifically for you at the time of your session, and by diffusing essential oils into the office. Upon entering my office, people often comment on the soothing and healing aroma that permeates the space: this is the synergy of essential oils that I use in a day, blending together to create an aromatic experience that can help to calm and center you, and is a great start for your healing time with me.

"Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of plant-derived, aromatic essential oils to promote physical and psychological well-being. It is sometimes used in combination with massage and other therapeutic techniques as part of a holistic treatment approach."

-Farlex, online dictionary


2) Essential Oils: The beginning of the journey

Essential oils are extracts from aromatic plants, trees, flowers, shrubs, roots and leaves. The history of Aromatherapy is long and deep, with traces of its use being found in many diverse cultures over several thousands of years. Essential oils have historically been used both medicinally and in cosmetics, and this is still true today.

It wasn't until the early 1900's that the term 'Aromatherapy' was coined and the research of essential oils taken to new heights. Chemists, Scientists, Doctors and healers of all types became increasingly intrigued by the healing capabilities of these liquid gems: essential oils. It was proven time and again that the synergistic properties of the liquid extract of a healing plant were profound in their abilities to assist in medicinal healing for many, many physical ailments and complaints, as well for emotional and mental well-being. The cosmetic use of essential oils exploded in 1950s, and is where much of the general public today will be familiar with its use. However, the research and use of essential oils for medicinal use continued to surge for the balance of the century, and is widely accepted today as a useful method of Complementary and Integrative Medicine(CIM).

Why is there such a range in price between various essential oils?

"One of the reasons for this is that different plants produce different amounts of oil, and the prices will reflect this. For example: Sixty thousand rose blossoms are required to produce one ounce of rose oil, whereas 220 pounds of lavender will provide 7 pounds of essential oil."

-Valerie Ann Worwood

3) How does it work?

Wickipedia mentions that “the modes of application of aromatherapy include:

Aerial diffusion: for environmental fragrancing or aerial disinfection

Direct inhalation: for respiratory disinfection, decongestion, expectoration as well as psychological effects

Topical applications: for general massage, baths, compresses, therapeutic skin care”

In order for 'aromatherapy' to occur, the essential oils must enter the body in one of 2 ways: either through olfaction (the act or process of smelling) or topically (local application to the body).

The molecules of essential oils are so small, that when we smell them, they enter the brain, and then the bloodstream through the act of inhalation. It is truly remarkable to experience the instant sensation of a pure, high quality essential oil permeating your body, mind and psyche, with the simple act of smelling! Please note that true Aromatherapy only occurs with 100% pure essential oils - fragrance oils may smell nice, but they offer no medicinal or healing value.

This is an important point to remember in today's age when the word Aromatherapy appears on many, many synthetic, chemical-based products.

The nose and it's chambers are a direct route to the limbic part of the brain - this is the area that houses our memories and emotions, and is therefore often referred to as 'the old brain'.

How many times have you had a smell waft by you, and instantly you are transported to a distant memory, as though it was right before your eyes. The body can fully submerge into the time and space of that memory, with emotions invoked and visions restored, like a dream being reborn in your mind. It is powerful, and for anyone who has experienced this, you are familiar with the limbic brain as it relates to the sense of smell.

When we apply the essential oils to the skin directly, there is also a local response, whether by soothing tired muscles where the oil is applied, or easing a skin complaint in that area.

As well - and this is the wonder of essential oils - once applied topically they absorb into your skin and then into your bloodstream, where they become catalysts for change and balance by working with your body's chemistry and web of cellular mechanisms for healing.

Remember, the molecules of essential oils are tiny, though complex in their structure, the human body allows them to permeate the skin and reach the precious bloodstream, as they are recognized as natural healers by the body. In comparison, the large molecules of a fragrance oil made in a laboratory are foreign to the body, and do not permeate the protective layer that is our skin.

Science has attempted to 'copy' nature, by taking 1 or 2 of the hundreds of chemical constituents found in a pure essential oil - but it is impossible to recreate the intricate network of nature's gems. Appreciate as I do the advances of western medicine and pharmacology, I also recognize that nature has offered us a bounty of healing tools as well, and if used carefully and respectfully, essential oils can become an invaluable piece of our medicine cabinet. Aren’t we fortunate to live in an age when we have both natural and allopathic medicine at our fingertips? I would say yes, indeed we are!

"In the case of jasmine, the flowers must be picked by hand before the sun becomes hot on the very first day they open, whereas the sandalwood tree must be thirty years old and thirty feet high before it is cut down for distillation. It takes 8 million hand-picked jasmine blossoms to produce 2.2 pounds of oil, and this fact helps to explain why it is one of the most expensive, precious oils on the market."

-Valerie Ann Worwood

4) About Cascade Massage Therapy

My Approach

I bring over 18 years of bodywork experience and education to the massage table!

I offer you diverse and comprehensive massage therapy sessions. Your treatment goals are foremost and your needs will be heard and addressed. I utilize both traditional and alternative treatment techniques, and recommend self care tips and exercise options that evolve with your individual healing process. My intention is to be a facilitator in the cascade of your healing process and health maintenance. I believe that within the human body is the desire and ability to be well, and through bodywork, I serve to act as a catalyst for this process.

This is your time - I encourage you to enjoy the stillness of your session, and sense the changes occurring in your body while we work - you don’t need to be entertaining or start a conversation; that being said, please recognize that I do not read minds. I expect my clients to participate in his or her experience and give feedback when there is any discomfort during the treatment.

Cascade Massage Therapy is focused on education and prevention. It is important that you know what you can do to help prevent stress, tension, and pain when you are not with me. I allow for time at the end of our session to converse, suggest self care tips and exercises that would be beneficial for you, and answer any questions that you may have.

I believe that prolonged stress, whether environmental, physical or emotional is a primary factor in dis-ease and a true obstacle to healing.

Therefore, I welcome you to a peace-filled and relaxing environment for you to experience relief from chronic pain.

Sonja Rawlings, RMT
1601 – 30th Avenue
Vernon, BC V1T 2A3



If you have specific health concerns consult your medical doctor.

The information in this newsletter is educational only and is not intended to replace the advice of your personal health care providers.

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Office located in Vernon, BC, Canada. Serving Vernon, Coldstream,
Lavington, Armstrong, Lumby, Enderby, Salmon Arm, Sicamous, Chase,
Falkland, Kelowna and the rest of the Okanagan.