Monday, January 10, 2011

A Remedy for all Seasons

Excerpt from the January 2011 edition of American Spa Magazine by: Heather Mikesell 

Help your clients breathe easier this winter with eucalyptus-infused products and treatments.

It’s no secret that koalas love eucalyptus trees, and there are plenty of reasons you should, too. Throughout history, the fast-growing tree—most species of which are native to Australia—has been put to good use. Its oil was often a key ingredient of topical ointments used to heal wounds, and its leaves were commonly used in teas to reduce fevers. Today, its clean and refreshing scent makes it popular in a host of products and treatments.

Clearing the Air
With cold and flu season upon us, many of us are likely to be experiencing sinus congestion. Fortunately, inhaling eucalyptus oil can help remedy that. “It is a fantastic decongestant and generally helps aid healthy breathing,” says Geraldine Howard, president and co-founder of Aromatherapy Associates. “It also has antiviral properties, so it helps ward off bugs and germs.” Tom Havran, aromatherapy product developer for Aura Cacia, attributes its effectiveness to cineol, a concentrated extract of eucalyptus essential oil, which possesses a fresh camphor-like aroma found in many over-the-counter cold and flu treatments, such as chest rubs and salves.
At Sage Spa, eucalyptus plays a key role in the Ah Sinus Massage, which relieves sinus pressure, headaches, and neck pain due to seasonal allergies. The treatment relies on hot steam packs for the sinuses and respiratory muscles, decongesting and anti-inflammatory oils, and pressure-point massage for sinus relief. “We put one drop of eucalyptus essential oil on a tissue and place the tissue on the client’s chest,” says owner Susan Stratton. “We then use hot, moist towels on the face, as well as a steamer to provide extra moisture for the nasal tissues. Clients report to us that it relieves their congestion and sinus pain.”
Allison Hegedus, president of Vida Wellness Spa at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler (British Columbia) and other hotels in Seattle and Vancouver, attributes the health benefits of eucalyptus oil to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, decongestant, and stimulating properties. According to her, eucalyptus is incorporated into the Aromatherapy Massage when a guest is feeling under the weather or experiencing any respiratory problems. It’s also commonly used with Ayurvedic Massage for those with a kapha dosha. “Kapha personalities tend to have problems with congestion and respiratory issues,” says Hegedus.
People have relied on eucalyptus for years to help with such conditions. “It was traditionally used by Australian Aborigines and many people around the world for treating colds and respiratory complaints,” says Pat Peterson Were, vice president of Aveda R&D, product development. “In massage, it is also known to be uplifting and refreshing, especially with vigorous massage.” At Aveda Concept Spas, eucalyptus can be incorporated into any treatment based on the needs of the guest. “We allow our guests to experience a sensory journey prior to their treatment, so they may select their preferred aroma to be used throughout the treatment,” says Were. “Eucalyptus is always an option.” Aveda also offers traditionally taught Neti Massage, which incorporates eucalyptus.

Stimulating the Senses
According to Charlene Florian-Barker, vice president of corporate creative development at Kerstin Florian, eucalyptus can often be found in products designed to address muscle aches and pains. “Psychologically, eucalyptus oil is stimulating, balancing, and refreshing,” says Florian-Barker. “It helps to increase concentration.” Taking advantage of its numerous benefits, Kerstin Florian offers the Aromatherapy Turkish Body Scrub With Eucalyptus, which aids in the removal of dull surface cells while stimulating the senses. According to Howard, eucalyptus also has other positive benefits, such as being an energizing pick-me-up and promoting healthy circulation.

Another selling point for this potent ingredient is the fact that its universal scent appeals to both men and women. The Kohala Spa at the Hilton Waikoloa Village (HI) offers a range of signature Eucalyptus products. “These Eucalyptus products have been a huge hit, especially for our male guests who prefer a more specific and fresh scent as opposed to floral and sweet-smelling aromas,” says spa director Bridget Phillips. “Our guests’ overwhelming response is that the scent is not only invigorating but also brings back wonderful thoughts and memories of being in the outdoors.” The spa also infuses the steam rooms with eucalyptus oil, which captures Kohala Spa’s signature scent.

Singing its Praises

While there are many ways to introduce eucalyptus, the easiest way is to use it as an air freshener. Howard recommends placing an electric fragrancer with a few drops of eucalyptus to create a clean and calming atmosphere. “It is excellent for a gym locker room to both freshen the air as well as kill the airborne germs,” says Mary Leber, president of Kneipp U.S. Havran suggests using eucalyptus oil at the start of a treatment to clear the sinuses. He also finds when clients shift from lying face down to face up on the massage table an opportune time to deliver a quick whiff, as it may help to clear any congestion. While eucalyptus offers benefits year-round, winter is the perfect time to introduce it for health and well-being.
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