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September 29, 2009

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This therapy you must inhale

PLEASANT smells conjure pleasant feelings and memories. Aromas have a powerful effect on our emotions and can affect how we feel, physically and mentally.

Aromatherapy is increasingly popular in spas and at home for its mind-body benefits.

It is the use of aromatic plants extracts and essential oils in massage and in baths where they penetrates the skin and enter the bloodstream for therapeutic purposes.

Oils and extracts are also burned and the aroma inhaled, the molecules entering mucus membranes and then the blood stream. The pleasant scent can be diffused in a room.

Rose, lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, peppermint and many other botanicals are used.

Aromatherapy is popular as an alternative medicine - it involves some powerful essences with known pharmacological effects - and one that also brings peace of mind because some essences are known to have a calming effect.

Extracts from plants, flowers, trees, fruits, bark, grasses and seeds have distinctive therapeutic and psychological functions, according to Tang Jiena, an aromatherapist from the International Federation of Aromatherapists.

"Balance is an old concept since ancient times, which people nowadays pay little attention to," she says. "Body, mind and spirit are all essential to human beings and when we lose any one of them, we lose balance and become ill."

Aromatherapy is used to relieve pain, tension and fatigue, care for the skin, invigorate the body and also to help us relax and sleep, Tang says. "It helps restore balance."

Since these are potent essences, they must be applied carefully; concentrated oil can burn the skin and should never be applied undiluted directly to the skin.

Tang has developed different aromatherapy recipes and treatments for different conditions and often helps her friends free of charge.

Take the case of a female journalist who consulted her at Rain Spa on Yuyuan Road. The woman suffered from shoulder and neck problems, lack of sleep and indigestion.

"This group of people usually lead busy lives and don't go with the flow," Tang says. "Long hours working at a computer and irregular meals cause health problems. First they need to relax their neck and shoulders."

Tang compounds two relaxation treatments, diluted and combined in a vegetable-based oil. One combines rosemary, marjoram, ginger, geranium and vegetable oil. The other combines a gum resin, cloves, juniper berry, litsea cubeba, lavender and vegetable oil.

She advises applying two or three times a day after a shower.

The warm shower opens the pores so the oils are better absorbed.

Since aromatherapy has only recently become popular, many people lack sufficient knowledge and don't know how to choose the correct products.

She recommends using professional brands such as Neroly and Absolute and advises choosing products sold by Chinese distributors.

Besides, she warns consumers not to use essential oils when they are pregnant - oils can be absorbed by the fetus - or use with very young children.

"If you use aromatherapy correctly, you will be amazed how these scents can broaden your vision and imagination," says Tang. "Balancing a peaceful mind and body are important to happiness." Burning oil

Elevate mood:

Rosemary (3 drops), juniper berry (3 drops), clary sage (1 drop)


Lemon (2 drops), rosemary (2 drops), basil (2 drops)

Cold symptoms:

Eucalyptus (3 drops), peppermint (3 drops), lemon (3 drops)


Fill aroma lamp or burner 80 percent with warm distilled water.

Add ingredients.

Inhale vaporized scent. Bathing


Peppermint (3 drops), rosemary (3 drops), neroli (3 drops)


Sandalwood (3 drops), clary sage (3 drops), lavender (3 drops)


Lemon (3 drops), rosemary (3 drops), chamomile roman (2 drops)


Fill a tub with warm water, add ingredients, soak for at least 15 minutes.

Do not shower off or remove with vigorous rubbing.


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