To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Aromatherapy for Self-Care,” by Dorene Petersen, in the April 2011 issue. Article summary: Self-care helps us to manage stress before it becomes constant. Aromatherapy is one effective self-care method we can use to stop stress from taking root in the body.

by Geraldine Howard

Aromatherapy works on three levels to improve one’s physicality, emotional health and general state of well-being, through the absorption and inhalation of essential oils.

1. Aromatherapy works on the physical level

Essential oils are made up of small molecules that are able to penetrate into our bloodstream, and can help many problems including easing muscular pains and sinus congestion, and improving circulation.

2. Aromatherapy works on the emotional level

Emotionally, the aromas of essential oils can have a dynamic effect on our mood. The sense of smell is the most primitive of our senses and is linked to the deepest part of our brain, which governs basic instinct, memories and emotions—so certain aromas affect our state of mind.

3. Aromatherapy works for general well-being

When a massage therapist needs to relax, a blend of lavender, ylang ylang and petitgrain helps to calm the mind and relax the senses.

If you are feeling a little under the weather and in need of a boost for your immune system, an antiviral and antibacterial blend of eucalyptus, peppermint, pine and tea tree helps to clear the head and free the sinuses.

For skin care, as the essential oils penetrate to much deeper layers of the skin, they can have a positive effect on the skin health, by optimizing the cellular renewal process, enhancing blood circulation and addressing problems, such as acne, eczema and aging.

Geraldine Howard is co-founder and president of Aromatherapy Associates ( She is an expert in developing aromatherapy products and treatments, with more than 35 years of experience.