I'll write a decent article on aromatherapy when I get a home computer.
But a few snippets at a time might help.
In general, go by your initial reaction to any smell. If you can't stand a perfume or essential oil then it is not the "correct" one for you. Whether it be a floral, spicy, woody or mixture of several oils.
If you went to an aromatherapist for a consultation (& massage), she/he would certainly take a brief health history & talk to you first. They would want to know about any pre-existing condition from blood pressure, heart (or if female, if you were pregnant) etc
They would also ensure you liked the smell before they applied it to your skin. Essential oils are usually mixed into a carrier oil.
Say 3-6 drops into 50ml of grapeseed oil.
Certain essential oils can exacerbate pre-existing conditions. Aromatherapy massage deals with soft tissues & is a relatively gentle, lymphatic drainage style of massage. It is not the deep tissue massage of a sports masseur. Secondly, any decent masseuse would ask whether the pressure they are exerting is ok (painful? or too light? or whatever).
Never lie on a massage table in excruciationg pain because you were afraid to tell the therapist you had certain tender points.
Aromatherapy is not about inflicting pain. I think it is one of the subtlest therapies (along with Bach Flower Remedies or Homeopathy).
Essential oils can be applied in a number of ways from massage, foot baths, creams, oil burners (synthetic oils have no therapuetic value) but I used to often burn pure essential oils when I was stressed, to uplift when I was feeling down,or steam inhalations for colds & flu etc.
If you can't get in/out of a bath, you could try sitting on a chair (with someone getting you a foot bath (with a few drops of essential oil mixed in). Most essential oils would form a drop on the surface of the water, so you could mix it with a tablespoon of full fat milk first, which would help disperse it.
Essential oils travel quickly through the lymph system. A bed ridden person's lymph system would be very sluggish (if it was moving at all). But it doesn't take much movement for the lymph system to start working to expel toxins etc. So a very slow walk around the room would be a positive start to getting that lymph system working (if you're normally restricted to bed most of the day).
But in the case of my FM I would probably only use a couple of oils these days. I have decanted my eucalyptus oil into a small spray bottle & spray directly onto my painful hips & just rubbed it in. Sometimes it works wonderfully, sometimes it doesn't & I've had to resort to prescription analgesics. As I said in a previous post, in the winter I put 7-8 drops of lavender oil onto my hot water bottle cover & put on my bed pillow at night for about an hour before I get into bed. Then I move the hot water bottle down to my feet & wrap my feet around it.
And while a physiotherapist might apply an icepack to my painful back (which I couldn't stand - it actually hurts my back), I would use a hot water bottle (with essentail oils permeating my skin through the application of heat).
Except for sprains where ice, elevation & rest is the usual protocol, I prefer heat for my aches & pains.
There are anti-inflammatory oils & analgesic oils, there are oils that calm & oils that uplift. Some oils like lavender have a synergistic effect. Combine them with 2-3 other oils & they seem to work hundredfold better.
In general, you would not put more than 3-4 oils together. When combing oils, you would probably put spicy ones together or floral ones together.
There is French lavender, Australian lavender & a multitude of others. Some I don't like at all. The time of day, side of the hill, region or season also affects the quality or aroma. Consider how flowers smell at different times of the year or different varieties of the one species.
For the sake of simplicity, why not go into a health/chemist store & check if they have sample bottles open. Just open the sample bottle & wave it a few inches beneath your nose & see if your chemical sensitivity will allow this.
Actually, at one stage I couldn't walk into a chemist without feeling ill. The perfume section of a large department store was like a death sentence. Some trees have the same effect on me.
There is a new assistant in my local chemist whose "deodorant" is so repulsive, I have to get my supplies & get out fairly quickly (as I was reminded at lunch time today).
So, before I say any more, try to get to a health store & sniff a few samples, to see if you can tolerate the different odours. Also, try to determine whether you particularly like woody scents or florals. I prefer lavender, rosemary, lemon, mandarin. I can't stand the scent of rose geraium essential oil. I prefer spicy, woody scents as compared to florals, some of which I find too sweet & sickly.
And some essential oils are adulterated with chemicals too.
But in general, you get what you pay for. If you bought a bottle of lavender oil for $5, you can bet it's not pure essential oil. The glass should be dark or tinted & should be stored in a cool, dry cupboard or box. If you bought rose oil for $20, then it's sure to be synthetic.
A very small bottle of lavender oil might cost Aust$18-20. I bought a large bottle last month which cost $42. But that should last me months. I have about 25 different essential oils, but really only use 3-4 regularly.
And the cost of each oil varies considerably. Lavender around $20, Attar of Roses might cost $2000 (because it would take many rose petals to be distilled to extract the essential oil. I had a foot massage once in which the aromatherpist put a drop or two of Attar of roses into the massage oil).
I was in seventh heaven. I cannot tell you how uplifted I felt. Of course that person was also very, very good at massage.
Sometimes I think it's not just about the essential oils, it's the feeling of being nurtured & cared for. It's the tactile therapy that is just as important.
I used to be very good at foot massages. But you've got to persuade the person to let you do this. Some people don't like their feet touched. Odd really. If they knew how relaxing a foot massage is, I'm sure they'd be queuing up in droves.
They should do hand & foot massages in hospitals. Patients in pain might not be allowed to move, but they would greatly benefit by having a relaxing hand or foot massage with some calming or uplifting essential oils mixed in to a carrier oil or cream.
Miryam Ehrlich Williamson's book "FIBROMYALGIA - What you can do about chronic pain & fatigue" refers to massage under nonmedical pain management techniques.
More next time.............