Aromatherapy used to be a specialist interest but Margaret Jennings finds that older people are turning to it to combat everyday aches and pains.
Battling those aches and pains? Scrutinising your dry skin in the mirror?
Stressed out with life’s challenges? An increasing number of older people are turning to aromatherapy to deal with such issues, according to a leading practitioner in the field.
An openness to alternatives to medication and a desire for pure quality skin products, are just two of the reasons they give for seeking out the use of essential oils and therapies, says Martina Connolly, aromatherapy practitioner and school principal at the Body Wisdom School of Healing Therapies in Sligo.
“Many women make contact around menopause because they begin to notice aches and pains and stiffness. Others might be told by a GP that they have early signs of arthritis,” says Martina.
“They may be looking for a massage or for an oil or cream that they can use to ease the symptoms, to avoid or delay the use of medication. Regular massage and using home blends works really well in these cases.”
Although women are the first to the door, men are also taking an interest – usually having been given a voucher by a woman in their life. “For the past ten years I’ve definitely had more male clients. Usually there’s something going on in their lives – stress, low mood, change in sleep patterns or aches and pains.”
Some get bitten by the bug and Martina says people aged 55 and upwards make up 20% of the attendance at Home Use of Essential Oils workshops, or winter classes at the school. “They do the classes for their own pleasure, or to use on family and friends or to have something to do when they retire,” she says.
Essential oils blended in vegetable oils or base creams are used for their therapeutic properties, for example in reducing those aches, pains and inflammation, for improving circulation and drainage, for improving and maintaining the quality and functioning of the skin, and for aiding digestion, relieving headaches and much more, according to the practitioner.
The benefits come from the aroma, the absorption into the skin and body, as well as the application itself.
“Our sense of smell is the most acute of our senses and can transport us to other times, places and events,” says Martina.
“For this reason you should choose essential oils that make you smile, just from the sheer pleasure of the fragrance. When you regularly use these wonderful scents to relax, you develop a smell memory that will instantly bring you to a place of deep relaxation no matter where you are.”
That scent can be a portable mood-lifter. A few drops of lavender, for instance – known for its relaxing properties - can be put on a tissue, sniffed throughout your challenging day; used in a burner, or added to a teaspoon of vegetable oil in your bath.
Martina says: “Vegetable oils with or without essential oils will improve the condition and flexibility of the skin. They keep the skin nourished and moist, preventing the development of dry flaky conditions. The regular application of these oils and creams keeps the skin healthy, encouraging regeneration of new cells and maintaining healthy circulation, drainage and nerve activity.”
Here are some of her suggestions for vegetable oils for mature skin and examples of what they can be used for:
An excellent oil for tissue regeneration and reducing scar tissue; for hydrating and moisturising the skin.
Closely resembles sebum, making it a very good oil to use for dry skin.
It contains anti-inflammatory properties which makes it a good choice in blends for arthritis. Another example is as a shaving oil, wash your skin, apply the oil and shave. It will reduced the dryness that can occur from shaving.
A wonderful oil found in a wide variety of cosmetic products. It nourishes, softens and rejuvenates skin as well as healing many dry skin conditions, reducing inflammation and irritations.
Can be fractionated (liquid) or unfractionated (solid) and has a natural SPF factor of 5. It is wonderful for dry scalp - a little gently rubbed into the scalp, combed through the hair and left overnight is nourishing and leaves hair feeling luxurious. The fractionated coconut oil – which does not smell of coconut - is a wonderful moisturiser for the face and body and especially good to nourish skin that has been exposed to the sun.
A really rich nourishing oil for dry and sensitive skin. It is perfect for stressed, tired mature skin.
* To buy the best quality products in Ireland Martina recommends www.Obus.ie
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