Massage & Aromatherapy
09:22 (GMT+2), Thu, 15 September 2011
- The healing power of massage has been used for centuries to heal and relax the mind and body. It has been proven to decrease stress and anxiety levels, relax the muscles, help with circulation, digestion and excretion, and reduce pain perception.
- Massage helps release serotonin and dopamine, thus lifting one's mood. A study was conducted in the US in which depressed adolescent mothers were given either a 30-minute massage or relaxation therapy over a five-week period. Although both groups had lower anxiety scores, the mothers who received the massage displayed physical evidence of this, with a greater decrease in urine and salivary cortical levels and a decrease in anxious behaviour (Weier & Beal, 2004).
- Often, mothers with PND have difficulty interacting with their babies. In a recent study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders (2008), mothers with PND were sent for infant-massage classes or a support group in an attempt to improve their mother-baby interaction and reduce their own depression. The result? The mothers who attended the massage classes showed a clinical reduction in their PND and a better connection with their infant as compared to the support group.
This is the use of essential oils, extracted from natural plant matter (leaves, fruit, bark, flowers and seeds), to reap therapeutic benefits. The highly concentrated oils, which are distilled from plants, are used to alleviate symptoms and to enhance relaxation. UK-based author Denise Tiran, midwife and lecturer on complementary therapies, suggests the following essential oils to treat PND:
- Bergamot: Has a soothing effect on the nervous system. It's a natural balancer and can help with anxiety, depression and grief.
- Chamomile: Is relaxing and aids in removing tension, anxiety, fear and anger. It's very beneficial for insomnia.
- Lavender: Helps with mood swings and feelings of instability. It can also be helpful for bipolar disorder.
- Neroli: A natural tranquiliser. It relieves chronic anxiety, depression and stress.
- Rose: A mild sedative that helps sufferers to handle depression. It eases nerve tension and stress, and lifts the heart.
- Ylang-Ylang: Regarded as the "smelling salts" of aromatherapy, it helps with depression and is good for panic, anxiety, fear and irritation.
Essential oils can be used in ointments, compresses, adding it to bathwater, steam inhalation, direct application and with massage. Blending oils can also increase the therapeutic properties. Consult an aromatherapist for more information on the medicinal uses of the essential oils.
By Mariam Akaborbirth, baby, essential oils, aromatherapy, postnatal depression, homeopathy, Ayurvedic medicine, herbal medicine and dietary supplements, traditional chinese medicine, craniosacral therapy