A brief guide to aromatherapy massage in Bangkok
Aromatherapy is a specific type of therapeutic massage that incorporates the use of scented essential oils. The overall purpose of aromatherapy is to improve a person’s physical and mental wellbeing. One of the top places to enjoy such a massage is in Thailand, with aromatherapy massage in Bangkok considered one of the best in the world.
This specific type of massage involves the application of alternating gentle and hard pressure applied to the body, in conjunction with a particular blend of essential oils. The different oils used are claimed to have specific healing properties, benefiting the client from both direct and indirect (inhaling) exposure. Let’s look in more detail at why and how to get an aromatherapy massage in the Land of Smiles.
History of essential oils
Humans have used aromatherapy for thousands of years because of its physical and psychological benefits. Ancient cultures in China, Egypt and India in particular incorporated aromatic plant components into resins, oils and balms for therapeutic, medical and religious purposes.
Although the terms “aromatherapy” wasn’t coined until the 1930s, by the French chemist and perfumer René-Maurice Gattefossé, the benefits of using essential oils in the treatment of medical conditions was well established long before then.
Indeed, essential oil distillation is first attributed to the Persians as far back as the 10th century. And records show that natural botanicals for treating diseases was practised in Germany and France in the 16th and 19th centuries, respectively.
Why get an aromatherapy massage?
Aromatherapy massage techniques are like those used in well-known Swedish massage; they are mainly used to focus on areas of pain in the back, neck and shoulder muscles. A therapeutic essential oil massage has been shown to induce calmness and relaxation and have significant benefits for the following common ailments:
- High blood pressure
- Menstrual pain
- Digestive issues
- Muscle tension
- General pain relief (i.e., arthritis, joint dysfunction, rheumatism, lower back, etc.)
The different essential oils used in aromatherapy massage are said to have varying properties. Here are some commonly used ones and their purported properties:
- Energising: rosemary, neroli, geranium, lemon/orange
- Uplifting: ylang-ylang, rose, clary sage, ginger
- Calming: chamomile, lavender, geranium
- Decongesting: tea tree, eucalyptus, pine, cedarwood, peppermint
What to expect during an aromatherapy massage
Although you can find aromatherapy massage at every health spa in the Land of Smiles, the style of treatment, degree of customisation, quality of essential oils and professionalism of service offered will vary greatly.
At an aromatherapy massage in Bangkok session, your therapists will have one or more premixed blends available. They will select the best combination for you, based on your health concerns and goals for the session (i.e., stress relief, pain reduction, insomnia help, etc.). For example, a customer in Thailand seeking assistance from a digestive problem or high blood pressure will be suggested to use lemongrass oil. Your therapist will likely involve you in the selection process by asking you to smell various blends and select your favourite. They will also base their selection off the Information card you filled-in at Reception before your session.
Once the massage oil is selected, the therapist leaves the room so you can completely disrobe and lie face down* on the massage table under a thin sheet. The massage therapist will re-enter the room and commence the therapy, at which point you should notice the subtle aroma of essential oil in the air, both from the oil used directly on your body and from a nearby diffuser scenting the air.
Tip: Avoid eating a large meal or drinking excess liquids right before a massage, as you will need to lie on your stomach and go an extended time without toilet access.