From bath oils to household air fresheners, the word ‘aromatherapy’ is bandied about an awful lot, but what exactly is it? We spoke to therapist, William Ogboke, at The Grand Brighton to discover what it’s really all about!
What exactly is Aromatherapy?
There are a few ways to do aromatherapy; you can look at the smell and how you relate to it, and you can look at how it affects the body. It’s about choosing the right oils for you to use during your treatment. I always like to shortlist a few during the consultation with a client, and then we do a sensory test where they can ultimately choose. It can be about trying to achieve something (balance, relaxation) or it can be about maintaining a current state.
Where does it come from?
Aromatherapy has been used for thousands of yeas, but in the last century it has advanced because we have developed new ways of obtaining the essential oils. In the last 50-100 years it has really taken off as a therapy in spas, clinics, and beauty products. In many ways the perfume industry has contributed to its popularisation. In the early 1900s, a physician called Gattefossé started experimenting with the healing properties of essential oils after he applied lavender to a chemical burn and noticed how quickly it healed (don’t try this at home). He is in many ways considered one of the founders of modern aromatherapy, and it all stemmed from there!
What is it supposed to do?
It depends on the view you want to take. For many people it’s just about the smell, but it’s very diverse and powerful, and is good for general wellbeing.
Is there anything you do to enhance the experience?
My aim with aromatherapy is to bring people closer to the oils and let them know the real impact it can have. My treatment room is almost like an apothecary with 12 different base oils and more than 40 essential oils that can be used depending on what comes up in the consultation. Absorption, the time of year, and a person’s current state, are all factors that are taken into consideration, so it’s a bit of a workshop where you learn something, as well as being a treatment.
Is there anything you recommend clients to do pre or post-treatment to get the most out of it?
Generally what’s going to happen in the treatment is that the oils permeate into the skin and the bloodstream, so you should wash and exfoliate before a treatment to help that permeation. Using the sauna and steam room or hydrotherapy pools is also beneficial to prepare the skin. Afterwards it’s important to keep warm, take time to relax, and try to keep the oils on the skin for six or seven hours.
Is there anyone you particularly recommend the treatment for?
It is a diverse practice and can be adapted for anyone, but it’s important for the therapist to be aware of the current condition of the body to get the most out of it.
Is there anyone who shouldn’t have this treatment and why?
Generally pregnant women are advised against it because some oils can be very stimulating – particularly in the first trimester, but this is usually precautionary. There are a handful of oils that can be used during pregnancy so it’s best to speak to your therapist first and make them aware of any concerns or health conditions.
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