Saturday, May 16, 2009

The massage oil dilemma: Scented or unscented

While perusing through massage oils, it's not difficult to become quickly overwhelmed by the sheer mass of choices. They range in thickness, scent, targeted area of application, and temperature. Is it all a matter of personal taste, or is there a science to choosing what's best for you?

A columnist at the Herald Tribune takes the scientific approach:

There's an ongoing debate about whether massage with aromas is superior to standard massage, but some evidence suggests that you may get more short-term benefits from a massage with scents. The scent with the most data supporting it: lemon. In addition to getting a massage with a product that includes lemon oil, try using the scent in these ways:

Spray lemon scent on a pillow a couple of hours before bed.

Take a foot bath with lemons in it. Some studies suggest this helps promote relaxation.

Add lemon oil to your bath water.

Rub your body with lemon oil to promote sleep and soothe skin burns.

While there's less research on these, they might be worth a try:

Tea tree oil for topical infection in areas such as the feet or armpits.

Rosemary, which can help improve mental alertness and function by reducing the effect of stress, so you can focus.

Peppermint and lavender. While we suspect these help improve focus or reduce stress, we're still waiting for good scientific studies to find out. But if you like the way they smell, keep them around.

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