For centuries, people have recognized that herbs, flowers, grasses and trees contain medicinal attributes.
Ancient texts from the Middle East and Africa refer to the abundant medicinal pharmacopeia that we call nature.
Today, the largest user of nature’s essences is the pharmaceutical industry, and scientific research has documented the strong antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties of many essential oils.
Essential oils are formed primarily from carbon and hydrogen chains, two of life’s essential elements. Essential oils represent the basis of life energy: a living, vibratory force composed of free-roaming electrons.
Used in Aroma-Reflex Therapy, essential oils engage the deepest part of ourselves, stirring the unconscious and stimulating the source of memory and emotions while reconnecting us to our physical and emotional bodies.
Aroma-Reflex Therapy is a deeply relaxing therapy that addresses sources of imbalance and distress, decongests tissues, restores flow and regulates the body’s biorhythms.
As grounding as it is exalting, Aroma-Reflex Therapy provides a wake-up call to the senses. Relaxing and therapeutic, it also provides hydration and oxygenation to skin, and assists in the elimination of toxic substances from the tissue.
It is also restorative, capable of penetrating the emotional brain to interrupt long-held stress patterns and allow for cellular repair. In that way, Aroma-Reflex Therapy often serves as a precursor to personal growth.
A Typical Session
During an Aroma-Reflex Therapy session, an aromatherapist will consult with the client to determine her physical, mental, emotional and spiritual makeup.
The therapist will employ a variety of techniques, including pressure-point work, connective-tissue massage and movement, to assess the clients’ vital state and, in turn, create the appropriate synergy of oils to establish and support constitutional homeostasis.
The most common response to an Aroma-Reflex Therapy treatment is sleep; oftentimes, lots of it. I have had clients leave my table, go home and sleep for up to 17 hours.
Sleep is good, of course; it allows the body to repair itself while also allowing for processing via dreaming. It is in this state of deep rest that the mind begins to see clearly and the body begins to heal. Other clients’ feel energized and renewed with purpose.
Aroma-Reflex Therapy is based on the work of Austrian-born biochemist Marguerite Maury (1895–1968), who engaged in research and clinical practice from 1940 until her death 28 years later.
She founded treatment clinics in Switzerland, France and England. Today, the technique is practiced widely in Europe, and is sometimes referred to as holistic aromatherapy.
Maury believed the potent energy of plants could be captured and used to restore energy and health, and referred to her work as “dabbling in the alchemy of creation,” in her book, Marguerite Maury’s Guide to Aromatherapy: The Secret of Life and Youth—A Modern Alchemy (Random House UK, 2004).
She saw her primary task was to determine the most effective method of delivering essential oils. She considered essential oils “true rejuvenation” and as healing elements capable of addressing the physical and emotional scars of time.
Maury was a student of Eastern medicine and Tibetan teachings who believed in the interdependent relationship of all living things. At the onset of her work, the practice of live-cell therapy for rejuvenation was becoming popular.
However, it involved the slaughter of a pregnant ewe, from which the fetus was extracted and the cells immediately used via injections to replenish the skin’s vitality. Maury believed this practice was unethical, and thus began her exploration into the world of plant essences.
Western medicine dealt with anatomy, organs and cells; Eastern medicine dealt with energetic pathways. Maury understood she needed to integrate the two, if Aroma-Reflex Therapy was to be understood and accepted.
She eventually succeeded. The precise and therapeutic application of essential oils in Aroma-Reflex Therapy is specific to dermatome tracts, reflex pathways and chakras.
The dermatomes guide us to areas of distress within the body, referring to muscular problems as well as areas of congestion and stagnation that affect all tissue, including that of the underlying organs.
Reflex pathways correspond to British scientist Henry Head’s Reflex Zone Therapy, where nerve endings are traced throughout the body to the extremities, providing a secondary reflex map of the body.
Further, an understanding of chakras allows for a glimpse at the interaction of the emotional and physical bodies, whether we uncover inflammation or depression in relevant areas.
An application of oils offers the recipient a pathway to self-awareness, facilitating balance of the physical and emotional bodies. (It is important to stress we do not diagnose or counsel, but simply be present.)
Maury also believed if one were to truly affect the psyche of another with aromas, it could only be done via the skin.
In the early 1950s, pioneering physical therapy research performed in Germany demonstrated the subcutaneous nerve reflex paths and corresponding viscera were related. The nervous system, our electrical body, from the skin to the core, is a vast network of communication.
That research validated Maury’s research and beliefs. By adding the vibratory force of essential oils to one’s own vibratory force, one could infuse life with life.
Having 30 years’ experience as a practitioner and instructor of Aroma-Reflex Therapy, I would say it is a road less traveled, but one worth seeking. This work enriches both practitioner and client.
The aromatics most certainly impact one’s way of thinking and practicing. Slow and deliberate in application, Aroma-Reflex Therapy demands we be fully present for our clients. It is purposeful, and if performed in a spirit of surrender, highly therapeutic.
To each his own journey—and therein lies the beauty of this work. It is not our journey; we are merely the facilitators. As Maury wrote, “It is not our job to bring years to the life, but rather to bring life to the years.”
About the Author
Anne Bramham, L.M.T., has almost 30 years’ experience as a spa-industry mentor, consultant, program designer and trainer. She founded the Advanced Spa Therapy Education Certification Council, owned Bramham Institute & Spa, and is an instructor for the Dr. Vodder School International.
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