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Aromatherapy Massage for the Respiratory System

Using aromatherapy massage to help the respiratory system

The respiratory system includes the nose, pharynx (throat), larynx, trachea (windpipe), bronchi, lungs, alveoli and diaphragm. The order of these components follows the path of inhaled air through the nose, down the windpipe into the lungs, plus the rising of the diaphragm. With exhalation, the order is reversed and the diaphragm sinks. The actual respiration process is the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and the cells in the body.

The nose is where the olfaction process takes place. This means that when we inhale an aromatic particle such as an essential oil it is first dissolved in the mucus in the top of the nose, and then comes into contact with the olfactory cells, also located there. Long nerve fibers attached to the olfactory cells (called axons) then carry the aromatic message to the olfactory bulb, which is situated in the cerebral cortex of the brain.
The nose is an important part of the respiratory process. As well as being the organ of smell, it filters out pollen and dust, and warms and moistens the air before it reaches our lungs. During aromatherapy massage, essential oils are inhaled, smelled and then travel to the lungs, from where they are distributed around the body. At the same time, essential oils enter the body through their application to the skin.

How aromatherapy massage can help the respiratory system

Aromatherapy massage on the chest, abdomen, diaphragm and upper back is of direct benefit to the respiratory system, especially when there is a cold, cough or other respiratory problem. Repeated coughing can cause tension in the whole chest area and massage relaxes these tense muscles. Certain essential oils such as cedar wood, cypress, clary sage and eucalyptus have anti-spasmodic properties, which means that they relax the bronchioles in the lungs.

Essential oils such as sandalwood, which have demulcent properties, soothe and relieve irritated or inflamed mucous membranes. When you have a cold or cough, the mucous membranes become inflamed and irritated, so aromatherapy massage and inhalations with demulcent essential oils can relieve the symptoms.

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