Aromatherapy Guide (Home)

Aromatherapy Massage for the Nervous System

Using aromatherapy massage to help the nervous system

The nervous system is highly complex, and functions as the body's communication network and control centre. It is divided into two principal parts - the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system (PNS) - though there are several subdivisions as well. The nervous system operates by means of electrochemical energy. Its main functions are to sense changes in the environment and body, assess these changes and then initiate action, either by means of muscular contractions or glandular secretions.

The CNS consists of the brain and spinal cord. The PNS comprises the nerve processes linking the CNS with muscles and glands. The PNS subdivides into the afferent and efferent systems, and the latter subdivides into the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system (ANS). The ANS is divided into sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.

The sympathetic system is concerned with the body's response to danger. These nerves cause a dry mouth, dilated pupils, stimulate sweating and increase breathing and heartbeat rates in preparation for dealing with the danger. The parasympathetic system monitors the body's processes on a normal, daily basis, and so these nerves regulate breathing, heartbeat, digestion and so on.

How aromatherapy massage can help the nervous system

Aromatherapy has a powerful affect on the nervous system. Massage with appropriate essential oils can reduce or eliminate pain, reduce anxiety levels, alleviate muscle spasm and tension, and promote general feelings of calm, relaxation and overall wellbeing.

Certain essential oils are nervine, meaning that they have a tonic and strengthening effect on the nervous system. Stimulant nerve tonics are strengthening and good for stress, debility and shock. They include angelica root, vetiver, peppermint, basil and lemongrass. Sedative nervines calm stress and tension, and include neroli, sandalwood, bergamot, lavender and roman chamomile.

Analgesic essential oils alleviate muscular pain, headaches and so on. Analgesics lessen pain by reducing the activity of the sensory nerve endings. Massage and hot and cold compresses are the usual applications, but for burns neat lavender (perhaps the best analgesic) is applied to the affected area. Other analgesics include eucalyptus, marjoram, rosemary and peppermint.

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