Tag Archives: Aromatherapy


Coping with Exams 2018

I have just listened on Radio4 to a mother whose son committed suicide because of exam stress.

Let me start this post by saying that I do not advocate Aromatherapy or Massage as an alternative to professional help if a young person doing exams or anyone else for that matter is in need of this. Indeed if I see someone in my Cambridge practice whom I think needs to see a mental health professional I will say so.

However, Aromatherapy and massage can help those sitting exams or undergoing other stressful events in their lives. And many who are not at the stage of needing a mental health professional can benefit from these approaches. Those needing professional help can still benefit but it should be as well as rather than instead of. Rosemary can help with retention of information while studying. Frankincense can help us to stay calm as can Vetiver. Citrus oils can also help with this and also help prevent depression due to stress.

Oils can be used on a tissue to inhale them, in a burner ore vapouriser or through massage. I have had a few clients who have been really helped by massage at this time. I should point out that if clients are under 16 I will require a responsible adult (usually a parent) to be present for any massage. At a project aimed at young people at risk of self harm, I do massage of just hands and arms, feet and head and neck. (It can be any combination of these.)

If you know someone who might benefit from an aromatherapy massage to help with exam stress, phone 07939273569 or email dave@cambridgearomatherapy.com

Do discuss it with the individual first and possibly show them the video if they want to know what is involved.


Article for professional assoiciation’s journal.

In my professional association’s journal, there was an article recently about the ethics and ecology of the essential oils we buy.

When it comes to ecology and ethics, this is an important topic as if we don’t pay attention to it, some of the oils we buy and use at present may not be available in a few years time.

In this brief piece I will argue that we should be looking at more than just the oils we buy for our practice. I welcome comments on this as it will help me hone what I write for, “In Essence.”

One of the things I would like to be able to source is unbleached couch roll. I have tried many suppliers and so far have not come up with one. I have contacted Suma, a workers cooperative based in Leeds who do provide unbleached kitchen roll and loo paper as well as a whole raft of whole foods mostly if not all organic.

There is also the matter of disposal of said couch roll. I use it for things like cleaning out our chicken’s hut, wiping spills on kitchen floor and whatever it is used for it goes into the compost heap afterwards. However unbleached it would have a considerably lower environmental impact.


Other areas of environmental impact include the heat sources we use for heating our treatment rooms. Sadly many of us don’t have much choice about this due to renting rooms for clinics but do be prepared to speak to clinic owners as they may be prepared to invest in renewable energy solutions which are dropping in price as they become more mainstream. I really like the idea of heat pump technology combined with renewable electricity however, most heat pump technology does not have the ability to heat a room up quickly so it may be necessary to have a second form of heating for this or look at the environmental impact of keeping the room at a warmer base temperature using the heat pump compared with using another source when rapid heating is needed.

When I see clients at home, I use a wood stove but even with a modern high efficiency one there is particulate pollution associated with this and if everyone in an area used this form of heating, the level of pollution would become unacceptable.

We should also be thinking about our carrier oils and where they come from. Most almond oil comes from vast monocultures in the United States. These are deserts as far as pollinators go because there is only a nectar source for a few weeks a year so bees are brought in on trucks carrying thousands of hives. (Those who know me will recognise this as one of my pet peeves as a bee-keeper.

Overall, my message is not one of do this or don’t do that but to be mindful in what we do. (I am sure most if not all practitioners would acknowledge the importance of this in their work with clients. I am asking that we consider the impacts on the environment in our purchasing and other decisions in every part of our practice. In this way I believe we can significantly reduce our impact on the environment and reduce the chances of some of the species we rely on from disappearing.


Pregnancy is not an illness!

An obvious statement I know but one that needs to be said. Today I watched a video of a friend, just a week away from giving birth doing a hula hoop performance that  would have been impressive whoever was doing it. Exercise is something that unless there are some specific complications is helpful in pregnancy. The same is true of Massage and Aromatherapy. Yes there are some oils that should be avoided. However there are no recorded instances of essential oils used in the normal dilutions used by aromatherapists causing foetal damage.

Despite that most aromatherapists including myself in my Cambridge practice do reduce the amount of essential oil used in pregnancy. Partly this is a precautionary  measure but another very good reason for doing it is that the sense of smell is more sensitive during pregnancy, particularly the last trimester. There are also some types of massage that are best avoided. I would not do deep tissue work and I  also avoid the stretches I do as part of my normal routine. This is because the hormone which allows the vagina to stretch allowing the baby to be delivered also allows other body structures including ligaments to  stretch and over-stretching in the last trimester can cause permanent damage.

That said, massage and aromatherapy if done with sensitivity and respect can be something that the pregnant woman can really enjoy. Because it aids relaxation it can also make labour less painful. All in all if there are no major medical problems it is something to be encouraged rather than discouraged. Even if there are major medical problems, gentle massage may still be appropriate, however I would always take medical advice on this before proceeding.

The biggest difference in the massage is that more towels might be needed along with a pillow or two to help the client remain comfortable during the massage. And the prompt for writing this post was a new client, twenty-eight weeks pregnant whom I saw yesterday. A really lovely person and the wriggliest   baby I have felt while massaging a pregnant tummy!

If an aromatherapy massage is something you would like to experience, do contact me by phone on 007939273569 or email dave@cambridgearomatherapy.com



Top reasons for having an Aromatherapy Massage.

Knowing why my clients come to me is important in making sure I keep a stock of the best oils to help them. My two guides to this are firstly and most importantly the clients whom I actually see or who consult with me via Skype.

The second is the enquiries that are generated by my website and the pages that get the most hits. This year because I did a promotion for the page, back massage has received the most hits and don’t get me wrong, a significant proportion of my clients do come for issues with their backs, especially if  you include neck and shoulders in that. But by far the biggest proportion of my clients come for issues to do with depression and anxiety. I would also say that most of these have depression or anxiety because of significant traumatic life events.  I see a few clients where genetic factors play a much larger part but they are the minority.

Bergmot, Bitter Orange and other citrus oils are a must working with these clients. They are particularly good for the client who feels stuck. They are also good for some of the physical manifestations of depression and anxiety such as lack of appetite and constipation. Rose is another oil I would not be without. It soothes anxiety and is particularly good for those dealing with grief be that for a childhood they didn’t  have or the loss of a close friend or loved  one. Frankincense completes my first line triad for depression, in particular if agitation or anxiety are also present. Both Roman and German Chamomile can also be good for this.

Once a client comes to me these oils are also good for building self confidence and helping the client to really believe that they are worth it. This last is probably the biggest barrier to depressed and anxious individuals coming for massage. They give themselves the message that they don’t deserve good things and often blame themselves even when the blame is  patently with another, e.g. an abuser.

Interestingly, I find that at least one in ten of the clients that are depressed also have back pain.

Do follow the links on this site and get in touch if you would like to discuss the possibility of having an aromatherapy massage treatment for anxiety, depression, back issues or anything else.



Clients as Experts

This is a subject I keep coming back to in my mind and thinking even when I don’t write about it. On the physical side, it is the client who knows all the little things they do to avoid feeling pain from an injury that has become chronic, sitting in a particular chair, turning in one direction rather than another  whenever possible, leading with one foot rather than another when climbing or descending stairs. (This may be different in each case.)

In the same way, the anxious client usually knows which situations they avoid and the things they say to themselves to get through difficult situations. The client with PTSD knows at least some of the likely triggers for them. They know which people to have around them to reduce the chances of being triggered and they usually though not always know what the initial event or events that led to the trauma is or are.

As a practitioner, it is my job to get as much of this information from the client as possible. This makes  it less easier to come up with a clear formulation as to how to proceed. Some  clients will happily strip off in front of me while others would be made too anxious and I would always leave the room. (My default position unless they start getting undressed before I have the chance to say I am leaving the room while they do so.

Some clients want a deep tissue massage to work out tensions in muscles whereas others need something which is much more nurturing in nature. and unless I can really empower them to find their internal expert, I won’t be able to choose the oils that are the best combination for them or do the best massage for them.


NDG 2017

Having attended the Permaculture Association National Diploma Gathering last weekend, I am now ready to start on my own Permaculture Diploma.

As part of the diploma, I have to do ten permaculture designs and my first few designs, in no particular order will be.

Redesigning an observation hive for the community orchard.

This design will address the problems that led to the comb collapsing  when the temperature was above 30C. The previous year temperatures had not been high enough for this to be a problem. As a result of the comb collapsing the bees left the hive.

Designing a presentation for next diploma gathering/convergence I attend around using the tools of Solution Focussed Brief Therapy when a project is stuck.

This will focus around the use of the Miracle Question” to move things on.

“If this project were not stuck what would be different?” Get as much detail about what the person with the stuck project/design would be doing differently.  Getting lots of detail is key in domains of feelings, behaviour, how project is talked about etc.

Then look at which bits of this are already happening. Can you do more of this? ….

Diploma Pathway.

This is one of the designs that most diploma apprentices do. It is a way to plan the work and learning needed for the diploma including how to access what is needed for other designs.

Willow Screen around Apiary.

This is a design I wrote an article about for Permaculture Magazine. Some more work needed on tweaking and maintenance.

Design around my Aromatherapy Practice.

Don’t know what shape this one will take yet so more to come later.


Mental Health First Aid or Emotional CPR?

Starting next year a programme starts that aims to have one in ten of the population Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) trained. This is important for therapists even those who see clients predominantly for physical conditions as when in a vulnerable state for one reason other issues often come to mind. I saw a link to this on a Facebook group I frequent and was interested to read a response from someone who found the MHFA approach very medical model in its approach though that is not immediately obvious on the MHFA website that I looked at.

The person who responded was I think saying clearly which of the two approaches she would prefer. Emotional CPR  as described is certainly a person centred approach with the CPR standing for Connecting, emPowering and Revitalising.

I would hope though I have not read this yet that both approaches also say something about how the person responding to emotional distress can look after themselves. I also suspect that in reality there is a fair amount of overlap between the two approaches.

What does all this mean for me as an aromatherapist? Firstly, I need to respond to my clients’ distress when it occurs in a way that makes them feel heard. This is more than just saying, “I hear what your are saying.” I need to respond  to both the emotional and the factual content of what I hear and see which may range from my own emotional response to what I have heard to something like, “That must be really confusing/hurtful/painful etc. for you.”

I might also choose oils such as Rose, Jasmine, or Frankincense that I know from both training and experience are often helpful  in emotional distress. The nature of the distress may affect the massage I do or in some cases even whether I do massage or not. In some cases where comfort is what is required, I might do a massage where I do more holding and do more work using the whole of my arms rather than just my hands. The most important thing is that my choices help convey the message to the client that I understand something of their distress and care about them enough to want to help.This has been foremost in my mind with three friends who have come to me for massage this year following emotional trauma and also with a number of my clients whom I haven’t met before their first appointment.