Between the dangers of using synthetic chemicals and the lack of sanitation during the COVID-19 pandemic, aromatherapy is a practical skill that should be considered.
Aromatherapy uses a combination of art and science to mix therapeutic preparations with natural essential oils. In these times of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the know-how to make your own hand sanitizer, air deodorant, detergent, and antimicrobial massage agent through aromatherapy is a valuable skill. The aromatherapy practice provides any business with a creative opportunity with the added benefit of being able to manufacture critical products that are not always available for purchase during times of high demand.
Chemical properties in essential oils
The theory behind aromatherapy practice is that the natural chemical properties found in a plant are the same natural chemical properties found in the essential oil of that plant. Plants have many natural chemical properties that help to pollinate, restore, and protect their natural survival from fungi, bacteria, insects, and other environmental problems.
Essential oils are usually extracted from flowers, fruits, leaves, roots, tree bark and other vegetable organic matter by steam distillation. Bottling these natural protective plant properties with the production of essential oils is a great use of nature.
Massage therapists can incorporate aromatherapy to create antimicrobial products for business use. (Antimicrobial is a compound that can kill or slow the spread of microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi.) Tea tree, eucalyptus, and rosemary are some of the most popular essential oils known for their antimicrobial properties.
Some essential oils have better scientific research to prove their effectiveness than others. It is up to each practicing therapist who chooses aromatherapy to research each individual manufacturer’s essential oil for their various uses and practices.
Today’s working theory of COVID-19 infection states that human breath aerosol and breath droplets can be spread through person-to-person contact and that this coronavirus can also linger in the air and on surfaces for unknown periods of time.
Therefore, it is up to us to develop additional methods (such as the use of aromatherapy) to clean up our work environment and protect ourselves and others from harmful bacteria, viruses and other germs. When using essential oils, keep in mind that some customers may have allergies or irritative reactions to certain plants or flavors. Someone might have a negative reaction even if a product was found in nature.
Antimicrobial product recipes
Here are some ways to promote antimicrobial hygiene in aromatherapy massage therapy using essential oils:
Hand sanitizer: Thoroughly mix one-third cup of aloe vera gel with two-thirds of a cup of alcohol and five to 15 drops of tea tree oil until well mixed. Hands should be soaked in disinfectant solution, rubbed, and dampened for at least 20 seconds to ensure effectiveness.
Antimicrobial massage agents: Mix two to three drops of eucalyptus or rosemary essential oil with more than two ounces of unscented massage cream, gel, or oil for a single client. High concentrations of essential oils can irritate human skin. It is therefore recommended to put a drop of this preparation on the client’s inner wrist and wait a few minutes for a possible reaction before spreading the mixture on the client’s body. Discontinue use immediately if any signs of redness or skin irritation appear, whether on the client or the therapist.
Air deodorant: Mix eight ounces of distilled water, 1 teaspoon of baking soda with five drops of lavender essential oil and five drops of eucalyptus essential oil in a squirt or spray bottle. Spray mist in the air at the highest possible mist dispersion setting to allow the deodorizer to linger in the air for as long as possible.
Cleaning supplies: Distilled water, alcohol, vinegar, castile soap, and other formulas can be mixed with various antimicrobial essential oils in various mixtures and concentrations. You can find an endless amount of aromatherapy essential oil cleansing recipes through a simple internet search. These formula mixtures can be poured into a spray bottle for cleaning. You can also create cleaning wipes by adding your recipe mixture to a gallon-sized zippered plastic bag using napkins or paper towels.
When preparing your own aromatherapy products, each therapist must decide how much essential oil to add. We have specified specific amounts of how much essential oil to use in these recipes. However, some may prefer a stronger or different flavor while others don’t. The selection of essential oils plus the amount used in each recipe is always a personal choice. However, a therapist should consider manufacturer recommendations, scientific, or research studies to determine how much essential oil is needed when attempting to create an antimicrobial product.
There are many other uses for aromatherapy in a massage therapy or spa store to promote an antimicrobial environment. This includes the use of ambient bowls, room atomizers or diffusers, homemade soaps, and carpet deodorants – the possibilities are wide. You will find many more therapeutic uses and options when you study aromatherapy and invest in essential oils. A CE-class aromatherapy laboratory approved by the National Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork Certification Agency is a great way to learn more by mixing your own formulations.
Limitations on essential oils
Now you may be wondering why we don’t make these easy-to-make natural products all the time. This answer gets complicated because essential oils, manufacturers, manufacturing processes, harvesting, extracting, and other effects are inconsistent and sometimes unreliable.
Even the region or pH of the soil a plant grows in may have a different natural chemical property from year to year based on the amount of fertilizers, acid rainfall, or drought for that year. And don’t forget that aromatherapy is based on the plant’s natural chemical properties. One year a plant could have satisfactory antimicrobial properties and the next year it could have less than satisfactory antimicrobial properties, which can be influenced by human manufacturing processes and other factors.
Because essential oils can be inconsistent from year to year and brand to brand, their generic use is not always reliable for their intended purposes. Therefore, it is important to use proven products for hygiene and other safety measures when available.
However, with today’s ongoing lack of sanitation, the practice of aromatherapy is an acceptable backup option when regular sanitation is not available. And in certain circumstances, these types of homemade aromatherapy products can be as good or better than ordinary store-bought products.
Having extra hygiene measures available is always good business, especially during a pandemic. To do this, add antimicrobial aromatherapy practices to your existing hygiene habits, if necessary, to protect yourself and others from infectious microbial agents.
About the author:
Selena Belisle is the founder of CE Institute LLC in Miami, Florida. She has been practicing massage therapy for over 30 years and received her holistic certification as an aromatherapist in 1995. It is recognized by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and the Florida Board of Massage as a training provider.
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