Aromatherapy uses a combination of art and science to blend therapeutic concoctions with natural essential oils. In these times of coronavirus (COVID-19), the expertise to make your own hand sanitizer, air deodorizers, cleaning supplies and antimicrobial massage agents through aromatherapy is a valuable skill. Aromatherapy practice allows a creative opportunity for any business with the added bonus of being able to make crucial products that are not always readily available for purchase during times of high demand.
The theory behind aromatherapy practice is that the natural chemical properties that are found within a plant are the same natural chemical properties that will be found in that plant’s essential oil. Plants have many natural chemical properties within them to help pollinate, recreate and protect their natural survival from fungus, bacteria, insects and other environmental issues.
Essential oils are usually extracted via steam distillation from flowers, fruits, leaves, roots, tree bark and other plant-based organic material. Bottling up these natural protective plant properties with essential oil production is a magnificent use of nature itself.
Massage therapists can incorporate aromatherapy to create antimicrobial business-use products. (Antimicrobial is defined an agent that can kill or slow the spread of microorganisms which include bacteria, viruses, protozoans, and fungi.) Tea tree, eucalyptus and rosemary are some of the most popular essential oils known for their antimicrobial properties.
Some essential oils have better scientific research to prove their efficacy than others. It is up to every practicing therapist who chooses to use aromatherapy to research each individual manufacturer’s essential oil for its various uses and practices.
Today’s current working theory of COVID-19 infection is that human respiratory aerosol and respiratory droplets can be spread through person-to-person contact, and this coronavirus can also linger in the air and on surfaces for unknown periods of time.
As such, it is up to us to create additional methods (such as the use of aromatherapy) to sanitize our work environment to help protect ourselves and others from harmful bacteria, virus and other germs. Keep in mind when using essential oils that some clients may have allergies or irritable responses to certain plants or aromas. Someone could have a negative reaction even when a product is derived from nature.
Here are some ways to promote antimicrobial sanitation in a massage therapy practice with aromatherapy via essential oils:
Hand sanitizer: Thoroughly mix one-third cup aloe vera gel with two-thirds cup rubbing alcohol and five to 15 drops of tea tree oil until well blended. Hands should be immersed with sanitizer solution, rubbed and remain wet for at least 20 seconds for efficacy.
Antimicrobial massage agents: Mix two to three drops of eucalyptus or rosemary essential oil with two-plus ounces of unscented massage cream, gel or oil for a single client’s use. High concentrations of any essential oil can be irritating to human skin, so it is recommended to place a drop of this concoction on the client’s inside wrist and wait a few minutes for a possible reaction before spreading the mixture onto the client’s body. Immediately discontinue use with any signs of redness or skin irritation, whether experienced by the client or the therapist.
Air deodorizer: Mix eight ounces of distilled water, 1 teaspoon baking soda with five drops of lavender essential oil and five drops of eucalyptus essential oil in a spritz or misting bottle. Spray mist into the air on the highest mist dispersion setting possible to allow the deodorizer to linger in the air for the maximum time possible.
Cleaning supplies: Various antimicrobial essential oils can be added to distilled water, alcohol, vinegar, castile soap and other formulas in a variety of mixtures and concentrations. You can find an endless amount of aromatherapy essential oil cleaning formula recipes through a basic internet search. These formula mixtures can be poured into a spray bottle for cleaning. You can also create cleaning wipes by depositing your formula mixture into a gallon-size plastic Ziplock bag with napkins or paper towels.
When concocting your own aromatherapy products, each therapist must decide how much essential oil should be added. We have provided specific quantities of how much essential oil to use in these recipes; however, some may prefer a stronger or different aroma while others will not. Selecting essential oils plus the quantity that is used in each recipe is always a personal choice. However, a therapist should factor in manufacturer recommendations, science or research studies to determine how much essential oil is required when attempting to create an antimicrobial product.
There are many other uses for aromatherapy in a massage therapy or spa business to promote an antimicrobial environment. This includes the use of ambient bowls, room atomizers or diffusers, homemade soaps and carpet deodorizers—the possibilities are vast. You will find many more therapeutic uses and options if you choose to study aromatherapy and invest in essential oils. A National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork-approved aromatherapy CE class lab is a great way to start learning more by mixing your own formulations.
Now, you may ask yourself, why don’t we make these easy-to-create, natural products all the time? That answer gets complicated, because essential oils, manufacturers, manufacturing processes, harvesting, extracting and other effects are inconsistent and sometimes unreliable.
Even the region or pH of the soil where a plant is grown can have a different natural chemical property from one year to the next, based upon the amount of fertilizers, acidic rainfall or drought for that year. And do not forget, aromatherapy is based upon the plant’s natural chemical properties. One year a plant could have satisfactory antimicrobial properties and the next year it could have less than satisfactory antimicrobial properties, which can be affected by human manufacturing processes and other factors .
Because essential oils can be inconsistent from year to year and brand to brand, their generic use is not always reliable for their intended purposes. As such, it is important to use proven products for sanitation and other safety measures whenever available.
However, due to today’s consistent sanitation supply shortages, the practice of aromatherapy is an acceptable backup option when regular sanitation supplies are not available. And in some perfect circumstances, these types of self-made aromatherapy products could be as good as, or better than ordinary store-bought items themselves.
It is always good business to have extra sanitation measures available, especially during a pandemic. To that end, consider adding antimicrobial aromatherapy practices, when necessary, to your existing sanitation habits to help protect yourself and others from contagious microbial agents.
Selena Belisle is the founder of CE Institute LLC in Miami, Florida. She has been practicing massage therapy for over 30 years and received her holistic aromatherapist certification in 1995. She is approved as a continuing education provider by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork and the Florida Board of Massage.
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