Many often think of aromatherapy as being a girlie floral thing.
And yet men have played key roles in ‘aroma’ long before it became a ‘therapy’.
The ancient Egyptians used plant oils and perfumes constantly for their effects on both men and women, and for offerings to the gods. Indian and Chinese cultures have long histories of using plant oils as medicine. The Greeks and Romans also used aromatherapy. Reputedly, the roman Emperor Nero relied heavily on rose oil to cure his headaches, indigestion and to lift his spirits.
The term ‘aromatherapy’ was introduced in the early 20th century by René-Maurice Gattefossé, a French chemist.
Today, pioneers like Robert Tisserand, an English aromatherapist, have helped disseminate knowledge about essential oils and their uses all around the world.
Successful companies and enterprises like that of the millionaire businessman Will King (founder of the King Of Shaves company) have reaped success. He reportedly built his successful enterprise whilst experimenting with his girlfriend’s essential oils for his own personal use.
According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, the use of oils falls within the purview of aromatherapy, defined as “the science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit… to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process,” There’s a variety of ways to reap the benefits of these essential oils, but be cautious: All 100-percent pure essential oils are incredibly concentrated, so they should not be ingested (unless under the guidance of a qualified doctor).
Here are some ways for men to make good use of aromatherapy blends to enhance their lives and wellbeing.
Make your own
Making your own essential oil blends is fairly easy, although a few rules apply.
As a general principle, you should never put neat essential oil on your skin; it needs to be mixed into carrier oil. Some exceptions can apply such as for lavender, tea tree and a few others, but always check first with a specialist and do a skin test.
For sensitive skin and face, the recommended ratio would be of 2 drops of essential oil to 10mls of carrier oil. For formulations used on the rest of the body use 4 drops per 10mls of carrier oil.
Scaling up to man-size bottles would be 50 drops per 250 mils of oil for the face and sensitive skin and 100 drops for blends used on the rest of the body.
Various carrier oils can be used. Light vegetable oils like almond or grape seed are virtually odourless and are good all-rounders.
Alternatively, an oil like jojoba is very similar in richness to the oils produce by the skin. Coconut oil is also a great option and makes for a wonderful massage medium. Keep large amounts in dark coloured bottles to store your blends in.
Good quality oils are an investment in your self, so always buy the highest quality oil possible. Look for Soil Association certified essential oils or those sourced from wild crafted plants. Avoid any oils that contain any synthetic fragrances, chemicals, parabens, or animal ingredients.
There is very little to guide us about how men and women might respond differently – if indeed this is the case – to aromatherapy. Many studies have been done, many for women and show that women seem to be more acutely aware of the scents around them. But being aware of an aroma is not necessarily the same as being affected by it.
Often scents such as spices and musks are considered more ‘masculine’ while florals are usually thought of as ‘feminine. But in between these are a variety of aromas for everyone.
These blends below are something for the men to consider…
Try these blends for…
Peppermint’s analgesic and antispasmodic properties have long been used to relieve headache and sinus pain, plus muscle aches. Applied topically peppermint can dilate blood vessels, which produces a cooling effect.
In one study(1), ‘ when peppermint and eucalyptus were applied topically to large areas of the forehead and temples it increased cognitive performance and produced a muscle-relaxing and mentally relaxing effect. But peppermint alone produced an analgesic effect causing the greatest decrease in headache pain’.
Peppermint can be applied in a compress to the forehead and back of the neck. Inhalations, via a diffuser or burner may also be helpful. For quick action try dabbing a drop of peppermint onto each temple (ensure a skin check has been done if using neat). For larger areas or for massage make sure to dilute in a carrier oil.
After a hard days work try relaxing with this stress-busting blend. In 20mls of oil mix
- 3 drops bergamot
- 2 drop patchouli
- 2 drops petitgrain
- 2 drops grapefruit
- 1 drop ylang ylang
Use as a massage oil for neck and shoulders or mix in milk instead of oil (to aid dispersal in the water) and add to a comforting bath.
Try this simple blend to help keep your mind sharp. In 20mls (2 tsp) of oil blend
- 4 drops rosemary
- 4 drops lemon
- 2 drops peppermint
Rosemary has been shown in studies to be particularly effective improving memory and focus.
There is some evidence that a combination of essential oils applied topically may stimulate hair growth in people with alopecia areata. In one study (2)’participants massaged either an essential oils blend, or a non-treatment oil into their scalps each night for 7 months. The results showed that 44% of those in the treatment group experienced new hair growth compared to only 15% of the control group. The treatment oil contained essential oils of thyme, rosemary, lavender and cedarwood, in a base of grape seed and jojoba oils.’
A close shave
Shaving oils are becoming very popular and with good reason. They help condition your skin while you shave and also help you avoid the nasty chemicals that lurk in shaving foams.
By making your own you can personalise a scent that is truly unique. Even if you still like foam, try applying shaving oil (with or without added essential oils) first – it will help your razor glide more smoothly over your skin.
To 30 mls (1 tbl) of oil try adding 2 drops each of:
Once in a while, sore muscles can leave you feeling old and achy. Try this blend to help warm and ease the pain.
In 120 mls (4 oz) of carrier oil such as jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil, almond oil add:
- 10 drops eucalyptus globulus
- 10 drops cinnamon
- 10 drops peppermint
- 10 drops rosemary
- 5 drops ginger
- 5 drops lavender
- 5 drops black pepper
If you’ve got sore joints or muscle cramps try this blend.
To 60mls (2 oz) of carrier oil add:
- 12 drops lavender
- 6 drops juniper
- 4 drops chamomile
- 4 drops ginger
Using St John’s wort macerated oil for half (or even all!) of your carrier oil will give extra power. Applied externally it has a lovely woody aroma and is excellent for aches and pains of all kinds.
Aromatherapist at Shine
Study 1 Neurologucal Clinic, University of Kiel, Germany (Cephaldgia 1994 June)
Study 2: Aromatherapy Lifestyle : Dept of Dermatology, 1998 research, Aberdeen
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