Category Archives: Aromatherapy and massage Cambridge


Deliberate Self Harm

This is a subject that has been talked about a few times on both national and local news in the UK over recent weeks. As a former mental health nurse, it is something that I have come across a lot in the past but I still see it even though I have not worked directly in the field for a few years. As I go back into the field it will again become a feature of my work,  as the project I will be working on is one designed to reduce the  number of young people attending an accident and emergency department with this problem.

Some of the figures presented in the news are shocking: One in four teenage girls have deliberately cut themselves.
Using massage and aromatherapy  in this project will be interesting to say the least, however because the project will be using several other interventions, it may be difficult t attribute results to any one part of the project.

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Essential oils I expect to be using are Rosemary and Vetiver (both of which have a good evidence base when it comes to ADHD), Citrus oils which are widely regarded in the profession as having a use with depression, Rose and Jasmine which are both helpful for emotional healing, particularly if there has been abuse and or bereavement.

Some young people choose to write messages on themselves rather than self harm and this is a strategy that I have encouraged in the past, though in a public setting perhaps writing on an arm that can be covered would be better if the young person wanted to avoid unwanted attention.

However things turn out, I am excited to be doing something that might address some of the problems leading to the epidemic of self harm among young people. I would love to see similar projects rolled out around the country and with that in mind will be giving this one in Huntingdon everything I can.


Away (Again)

It feels like I have been away and not available as a practitioner a lot this year. Two weeks on my permaculture design course, a week in Wales for my Aunt’s 50 years in the Carmelite Monastery as a Catholic nun, and another big family event was a cousin’s wedding. Even though that was only a few days, it adds up and I feel I have been away more than normal this year.

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And I am about to go off again for two weeks. This time to Ireland by train and boat. One day I hope that there will be a balance between the costs of air travel and other forms of public transport that reflects the environmental costs of air travel, but for the present, I have to put up with travelling less often than I would like.

So, between spending time with family and my partner’s best friend from school, I will be away for two weeks with appointments available from 27th October. I will be checking email sporadically while away so if you want a massage or aromatherapy appointment do get in touch. Contact details on home page.


Warning given over children using complementary therapies

I heard this news item on the Today Programme on BBC Radio4 this morning and based on the facts as presented, the practitioner was clearly acting outside of their sphere of competence. In particular, the giving of high level Vitamin D supplements which according to some reports were above the maximum recommended adult dose. (The actual dose isn’t mentioned in the BBC report.)    For my own practice I am reminded of the importance of asking about not just conventional medical treatment but also any complementary/alternative therapies my clients might be taking.

Why is this important for aromatherapy? Well, partly because in an holistic practice I need to make sure I am not working against another therapist with my approach but also because just as some conventional medical treatments can cause side effects that can be exacerbated by some essential oils, the same is true of some complementary therapies as well. An example of this is skin photo-sensitivity. When using the oils that can cause it I always caution about not using sun-beds for twelve hours afterwards or going out in strong sunlight for the same length of time. (In practise none of my clients has yet admitted to using sun beds and at this time of year, in UK sunlight is unlikely to cause a problem unless the client has a particular sensitivity to start with.)

I also ask clients to tell other practitioners whether conventional or complementary/alternative about my work with them. Openness is I strongly believe the best way to avoid problems and to discover them. While if used according to professional association guidelines, essential oils are low risk, there is always the possibility of there being an interaction with a drug that has not been noted before.

As a practitioner of a therapy whose advocates have been less than diligent in scientifically researching all the claims made for it, perhaps I shouldn’t be saying this but while a search for,”camel milk” + “Autism” produced hundreds of results, I did not find any that provided what I would allow as evidence of its efficacy in treating the condition. Similarly, while I have no doubt that essential oils can have a psychological effect and that this may be helpful with some specific problems with some with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, I would never claim that Aromatherapy was a cure ofr Autism or anything else!

So if you are looking for cures, don’t phone 07939273569 or email


An aromathereapy Massage for Loss and Grief.

At my practice in Central Cambridge and Trumpington, a significant proportion of my clients have issues of loss and grief. Given that as we go through life there are not many of us who will not experience bereavement or break up of a relationship not to mention other losses that is probably no surprise.

Oils I often find myself reaching for in this situation  are Rose, Lemon and Frankincense.  There are a number of other  oils that come from herbs that have been used as funeral herbs by different cultures over the years that I might also use.

Rose is one of the top oils for emotional healing. Frankincense helps to still the mind from repetitive thoughts and lemon promotes clarity of thought. I will often do a massage that is not as deep tissue in style as I would at other times, concentrating on being more nurturing. (How many people in these situations just want a hug from a close one?)

The one part of the massage where I do go fairly deep though still less deep than my usual is the abdomen. A lot of clients have found this particularly nurturing and helps them to let go of tensions they are holding there. Our language reflects this with phrases such as, “I couldn’t stomach it” and, “gut feelings.”

So If you have suffered a recent loss or you have an older loss that you still struggle with remember there is no such thing as a right or wrong way to manage the grief process. Do consider whether an aromatherapy massage might help and if you think it could,

Phone 07939273569 or email to find out more.


Changing oils with the seasons

As spring develops, I have dealt with my first swarms of bees, they were on a sage bush on my allotment in Trumpington Cambridge. I notice that the essential oils I use change a little. I use less Rosemary, Eucalyptus and Tea Tree, warming oils that help to prevent and deal with infections. I find myself using more of the cooling oils such as Lemon, Melissa and geranium.

Asthma and hay fever become more common and I use anti-inflammatory oils like chamomile to help with that. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are said by many sufferers to be  worse in the colder months and while research suggests the correlation is weak at best it is difficult to deny the experience of individuals. I don’t have enough clients with these conditions to form a strong view on the subject. As ever I treat the individual rather than the index complaint.

In summary, I find myself treating clients now who are more likely to need cooling oils than the hot dry natured oils I use more of in winter. There is still a chance to book an Aromatherapy massage with the £% off for new clients till the end of April making one hour £45 and ninety minutes £50.

Call 07939273569 or email to book.


Lets hear it for pain!

I was struck by a news item today on BBC World Service which talked about medics having enabled someone to feel pain!

I know that many if not most of my clients’ instinctive reaction to this would be, “Why!?” Yet, not being able to feel pain puts the person in a lot of danger. They will not pull their hand away from heat be it a hot kettle or perhaps something even more dangerous. They are at danger of asphyxiating when sleeping at night and of getting pressure sores because they do not feel the discomfort that makes them turn over. Or at a very simplistic level if we break a leg, it stops us standing on it and damaging it furhter!

Paradoxically, those behind this research believe that it might also be useful in looking at ways to help those in Chronic pain which does not have a useful function. What they didn’t say was what the time scale for this was.

Until then, I will continue to use massage and aromatherapy to help those in Chronic pain. A question that therapists in pain clinics often ask is, “Is it better to feel the pain and still be able to get on with life or to feel the pain and not be able to do anything?”

I see part of my job working with chronic pain as to help people reach the stage where they can carry on with life as they wish to. For some this does mean a big reduction in the amount of pain they feel. For others it is more about helping with the depression that often comes with chronic conditions of all types.

Oils used for depression which almost always increases the level of pain felt include Bergamot, Lemon and Frankincense. Oils for the pain often include lavender, Marjoram and Ginger.

As always, I look to choose oils that have multiple functions. The culinary herb oils and the citrus ones are both useful in constipation, encouraging peristalsis. (Constipation is very common in depression.) As a general rule I try and ensure that every oil I choose for a treatment addresses at least two issues that a client has and also for each issue I wish to address, I use at least two oils. I take a similar approach in the massage I give to clients in my Cambridge practice.


Unusual Oils

When I see a new research paper on an essential oil more often than not it is one I have at least heard of. However there are vast numbers of essential oil bearing plants that I know nothing of. I have heard of the fruit, Mangosteen but never seen it. I had never heard of the essential oil before today.

Garcinia mangostana is an oil that I have not used and will almost certainly never use! However my interest was piqued by a research paper I saw yesterday. It makes two points about why the research was carried out.

  1. 80 % of people in developing countries rely on plant medicine for most of their treatment of health problems.
  2. In all countries, not just developing ones, there is an increase in resistance to antibiotics.

The research was looking at the antimicrobial properties of the oil but the oil also contains a chemical compound that has been shown to be useful as a cytotoxic drug with some cancers. It was a very effective antimicrobial.

This along with one of the tests carried out means that the oil is quite toxic and so not suitable for aromatherapy use. The fruit from this tree is used in traditional medicine for dysentery and other gastric problems.

Looking at the same test for toxicity when used with the essential oils of Nutmeg, (Myristica fragrans) this oil is more than a thousand times more toxic so while the essential oil may have properties that make it useful in medical applications it is unlikely that it will ever make it into the aromatherapists repertoire.

This will not stop me looking at research papers on new oils as there are several being used today that were not commonly used when I first trained.