The fragrant items you find in your garden, on a hike in the great outdoors or stacked inside your spice cabinet may also be found in your favorite massage cream. Herbs, flowers and other plants long have been cherished for their beauty, scent and sometimes flavor. These natural items also have a rich history of medicinal use to boost well-being.

In massage creams, it’s typically either the fragrance, the health benefits or both that earn an herb, plant or flower extract a slot on the ingredient list. Depending on the nature of your client base, you can carefully select a massage cream that contains elements known to have specific effects when topically applied and also subtly inhaled.

For instance, one common goal among massage therapists—and also a common request among clients—is relaxation. If this rings true for you and your practice, then seek out a massage cream that contains natural ingredients known to reduce tension, ease stress and promote relaxation.

One such botanical often added to massage cream is lavender, which is well known for its calming, soothing and overall relaxing effects on both the body and mind. Other ingredients, such as sage and chamomile, might sound more at home on the spice rack or in a cup of tea, but these also have certain benefits to bodyworkers and their clients.

Sage, for example, is reported to have anti-inflammatory properties. Other proposed uses for this herb include the reduction of anxiety and the enhancement of mental function. As for chamomile, you most likely know that it can be quite relaxing when imbibed from a steaming mug of tea. In a massage cream, chamomile can also act as a calming agent for the mind, as well as a soothing salve for inflamed skin.

Melissa, also known as lemon balm, is another member of the herb family you may likely find blended into a massage cream. Several studies have found melissa can help reduce anxiety and promote sleep, which makes the use of this natural ingredient perfect for most massage sessions.

Another botanical you may find in your massage cream—but not in your kitchen—is passion flower. This visually stunning and exotic-looking flower grows on vines, but the flower’s beauty is not its only power. Indigenous uses of passion flower included the alleviation of headaches, bruises and general pain. Today, the extract of this flower often is employed for its calming and analgesic effects.

It’s clear Mother Nature offers a treasure trove of ingredients for use in not only our kitchens and gardens, but also in our work as massage therapists. If you wish to tap the natural benefits of flowers, plants and herbs, check out massage creams that contain such ingredients.

With a little time spent on research, you should be able to find a massage cream that contains just the right combination of herbal extracts for your clients. In addition, you may want to go a bit further in your investigation to find out whether the natural components of the cream were grown organically.

—Brandi Schlossberg

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