Updated: Jan 21, 2020
By Jennifer Johnson
Useful, healing additions to reflexology and other therapies, essential oils have the ability to promote relaxation and even treat symptoms on their own. We asked our experts to recommend the best safe and easy options to work with.
In a world that may seem like it's constantly in busy motion, receiving a treatment like reflexology can be a welcome time for relaxation and healing. And further increasing the benefits of this relaxation and reparation time in the body can be easy and safe, by adding essential oils.
The oils can be diffused into the air during a treatment, or combined with a carrier oil to be rubbed onto the feet. The feet are an ideal area for oils to also be easily absorbed directly into the body.
We asked our experts which essential oils will be the safest for most clients, but that will also have the widest therapeutic applications.
Carly Woodhouse, an ASR instructor in Alberta, has been trained in reflexology, massage therapy and aromatherapy. Her top picks for great essential oils to use in a practice are oregano, thyme, basil, cypress, marjoram, and frankincense.
Carolyn McGouey, an ASR instructor in New Brunswick, is a reflexology therapist and a certified energy practitioner. Her favourite essential oils to use in her practice are oregano, cypress, lavender, and melaleuca.
Carly and Carolyn share more on how these essential oils can be some of the most useful additions to a reflexology or other healing treatment.
Basil oil comes from the basil plant (yes, the same one you cook with!) When inhaled it works with the nervous system, allowing it to help combat mental fatigue and depression. Carolyn says: "Basil for me has a pleasant aroma. It's also an excellent support to the cardiovascular system."
Cypress oil is extracted from the cypress tree, an evergreen tree. Carly says: "Cypress is great for treating sprains, strains, muscle aches and pain."
Frankincense, which comes from the resin of the boswellia tree, is native to the Arabian Peninsula and Africa. Carly says: "Frankincense is both calming and grounding."
Derived from the vibrant and gorgeous lavender flower, this oil is one of the best-known in aromatherapy because it is one of the most versatile. Carolyn says: "Lavender has been a go-to for me and is recommended to help soothe the nervous system and the emotions." Marjoram
This oil comes is derived from the marjoram plant, from the Mediterranean region. Carly says: "Marjoram is calming and can also provide relief for eczema and dermatitis." Melaluca (Tea Tree)
Found in sticky leaves of Australia's melaluca plant, this oil can be used in a variety of ways. Carolyn says: "Melaluca is a natural antifungal for treating the health of the feet in addition to the entire body. It's an immune and respiratory stimulant as well as supportive to the musculoskeletal systems."
Oregano is an oil from the leaves of the oregano plant, commonly used in cooking. Carolyn says: "Oregano is also a natural antifungal with benefits like melaluca - treating the health of the feet, body, immune and respiratory system, as well as the musculoskeletal systems."
Coming from the thyme plant, this oil is said to ward off nightmares - but that's not all it can do. Carly says: "Thyme helps with a reduction of cough and cold symptoms." How It Works Once inhaled, essential oils interact with the limbic system. This system, one of the most primitive, becomes stimulated. Since this is connected to the part of the brain regulating functions like heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance - the use of these oils can help to regulate the body alongside a reflexology treatment.
Remember, when experimenting outside of the 'safety zone' of oils recommended by our experts, you'll need to check for contraindications.
Quick tips for adding essential oils in your practice: choose oils from a reputable company or distributor--oils should be therapy grade, non-synthetic, and derived from best practices that keep their highest qualities intact. Consider organic or food-grade oils when possible, for anything intended to absorb into the skin, and avoid synthetic additives or the use of chemicals in the extraction processes.
Interviews: Carolyn McGouey, ASR Instructor (Professional Reflexology Therapist, Pranic Healing Practitioner), March 28, 2019; Carly Woodhouse, ASR instructor (RMT, Registered Reflexology Therapist, Aromatherapist, Reiki 1& 2), March 29th, 2019. To read more about our qualified instructors: https://www.reflexologyasr.com/approvedschoolyourinstructor