The growing trend of wellbeing and wellness is opening barriers and giving people the opportunity to improve wellbeing without there being a stigma of ‘anything being wrong’. This return to our roots is essential in these modern days of synthetic medication and quick-fix solutions. As an aromatherapist, I treat very few men, and I do hope this will change as wellbeing takes hold and more rooted in the psyche. There are so many different aspects to men’s health and hope that this is of use to you lovely readers.
Stress is a well-known trigger for depression, and it can also affect physical health. Some common signs of too much stress include increased irritability, heightened sensitivity to criticism, signs of tension (such as nail-biting), difficulty getting to sleep and early morning waking (irregular sleep patterns), indigestion and loss of concentration and short-term memory.
Important brain chemicals affected by stress are serotonin (involved in the regulation of sleep, appetite and mood), dopamine (part of the brain’s reward system), noradrenaline (involved in regulating energy and drive), g- aminobutyric acid (GABA: general sedative effect), glutamate (tending to activate nerve cells) and corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF: increases steroid levels). Essential oils from plants and flowers have the potential to reduce stress by helping to balance the whole body in order to regularise over and under-reactions to stressful situations. Certain essential oils, such as lavender, ylang-ylang, geranium and bergamot, are well known for this ability.
Ylang-Ylang oil has commonly used in aromatherapy through either massage or inhalation ways for relaxation and mood adjusting (Ali et al., 2015.). It could also be used to reduce blood pressure (Hongratanaworakit and Buchbauer, 2004) and improve cognition and mood (Moss et al., 2008) on healthy participants through inhalation way. It also shows an anxiolytic effect on mice in several behavioural tests based on the instinctive responses to novel environments (Zhang et al., 2016).
Statistical analyses revealed that compared to control condition both ambient odours of orange and lavender reduced anxiety and improved mood in patients waiting for dental treatment. These findings support my deep and long-held opinion that odours are capable of altering emotional states.
I suggest the following for comprehensive support for mental wellness:
Peppermint’sanalgesic and antispasmodic properties have long been used to relieve headache and sinus pain, plus muscle aches. Applied topically peppermint can dilate blood vessels, which produces a cooling effect.
In one study, when peppermint and eucalyptus were applied topically to large areas of the forehead and temples it increased cognitive performance and produced a muscle-relaxing and mentally relaxing effect. It also produced an analgesic effect causing the greatest decrease in headache pain.
Peppermintcan be applied in a compress to the forehead and back of the neck. Inhalations, via a diffuser or burner may also be helpful. For quick action try dabbing a drop of peppermint onto each temple (ensure a skin check has been done if using neat). For larger areas or for massage make sure to dilute in a carrier oil.
Rosemaryis often used in aromatherapy to treat debility and fatigue, and to ‘clear the mind’. These properties suggest that rosemary is a central nervous system stimulant. Central nervous system stimulants can enhance alertness, awareness, wakefulness, endurance, productivity and motivation.
In a small human study on 20 volunteers, significant increases in autonomic nervous system parameters of heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate was found upon inhalation of rosemary oil, giving evidence of a stimulating effect for rosemary. Further support for the stimulating effects comes from the subjective assessment of mood in the study. Subjects reported feeling significantly more alert, active and fresher upon inhalation of rosemary compared to controls (Sayorwan et al., 2012). Moss et al. (2003) found rosemary oil to significantly affect the cognitive performance of participants, in agreement with its stimulant effects and traditional use. In a computerised cognitive assessment, there was a significant increase in quality of memory and long-term memory factors.
The best way to use rosemary oil (CT cineole) is to apply 1 drop to the inside of each wrist every morning and rub the wrists together. The oil can also be used in the bath and in vaporisers, or in a chest rub.
There is some evidence that a combination of essential oils applied topically may stimulate hair growth in people with alopecia areata. In one study participants massaged either an essential oils blend or a non-treatment oil into their scalps each night for 7 months. The results showed that 44% of those in the treatment group experienced new hair growth compared to only 15% of the control group. The treatment oil contained essential oils of thyme, rosemary, lavender and cedarwood, in a base of grape seed and jojoba oils (Hay, 1998).
The massage should be firm, to the point where the skin of the scalp is moving over the bone, rather than just the fingers moving over the scalp. If you can continue the massage for at least 2 minutes every day an improvement will be seen. Don’t worry if it appears that more hair is falling out, this is just because you have loosened dead hairs from the shaft with the massage.
Essential oils are an excellent way of looking after muscles, both pre and post-workout. They can help to prepare for exercise, as well as soothing sore muscles at the end of a training session. These all-natural compounds can enhance performance, providing better strength and definition.
Pre-workout, rubbing the soles of your feet with a few drops of lemongrass oil before a training session prepares the body for an effective session. Citral in the oil helps to support the production of heat as you are exercising and gives you a boost of energy!
During workout peppermint oil can help open the lungs, to allow deeper breaths. This in turn boosts circulation, helping the blood get to tired muscles.
Peppermint can also boost mood and heighten senses whilst training.
Stretching and rubbing the muscles after a workout is essential. Eucalyptus oil can be used for its soothing properties, but it will also help the respiratory system.
A combination with Chamomile oil, can calm breathing and help to lower heart rate and blood pressure.
There are numerous scientific studies conducted to research fitness and how an optimum healthy lifestyle can be maintained. Many research studies have investigated the effectiveness of various kinds of natural products in the improvement of sport performances. Peppermint is a herb which is well known for its antispasmodic, painkilling, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, decongestant, and antioxidant effects.
A neck strain is a common injury when the correct form is not maintained during resistance training exercises. One of the most common exercises that can cause neck strain is sit-ups.
Using a warm compress with marjoram oil helps to prepare the neck muscles by warming and loosening before strain is added into the mix.
I feel I should share here my absolute favourite recipe for aches and pains, muscular tension, calming stressed muscles and improving circulation (yes, all those things in one great recipe!).
Blend 2mls of each of the following oil:
Use 5-10 drops in a bath, or use 30 drops in 15mls of almond oil to massage into affected areas until the skin is warm. Works a treat!
A testosterone shortage can be life-threatening. It can include losing muscle mass, bone density and sexual drive, and new research shows that the decline can also increase the risk of prostate cancer, heart disease and even death.
Low sexual desire is rapidly becoming the most common issue treated in psychosexual therapy. Common causes include poor self- esteem, relationship issues, partner problems, bad experiences, fears, depression, childbirth, and stress, many essential oils may improve sexual desire. Examples are ylang-ylang, sandalwood, geranium, black pepper, nutmeg and clary sage (Ramage, 1998).
For an essential oil blend to use as a massage as an aphrodisiac try the following. To a base of 50mls of sweet almond oil add:
Make the mixture up a little ahead of time and allow the aromas to meld together completely.
Though tackling these issues involves a range of approaches, we also need to change public attitudes about men’s health in general and be conscious about living a healthy lifestyle. In addition to these prevention methods, essential oils can be a great additional way of supporting men’s health.
Here are some of the products from our Men's Range and others to help support men's health.