The cleansing and purifying effects of a sauna are good for your skin, pores and sinuses. Detoxifying our bodies from the usual stresses we put them through is a refreshing and satisfying process. Aromatherapy oils can actually enhance a sauna experience by combining the benefits of heat treatments with the herbal or medicinal benefits of essential oils.
Essential Oil Benefits
Essential oils are those distilled from herbs, plants and flowers whose scents have some variety of therapeutic effects. Some of them actually improve your skin or relieve sore muscles; others work on mood and energy. In ancient Chinese, Greek, Egyptian and Roman medicine and religious offerings, various oils and scents were used as offerings to gods or in healing rituals. Slowly, the trend moved into Europe and North America. Aromatherapy is now a well-researched method commonly used within alternative medicine. Some oils are revitalizing and energizing oils. These include peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon and rosemary, ginger and sandalwood. For reducing tension and anxiety, try chamomile, lavender and geranium. To relieve muscle tension or relax tired bodies, use clary sage and bergamot. Many aromatherapy oils contain phenols, which heat your skin and increase your blood flow, as does a sauna. These include oregano, clove, basil and thyme. For poor circulation, use these in small doses along with your sauna.
Use in Saunas
To receive the maximum effect of an essential oils treatment within a sauna, you want to use the oils diluted by a carrier, such as lotion, carrier oils or water. One potent way to do this is with a traditional rock-heated sauna. Pour the essential oil or combination of oils into water and then pour that water over the hot rocks of the sauna. The steam this produces is now full of the exhilarating or soothing aromas you choose. In infrared saunas or at spas with hotbox saunas, there are two other alternatives. You can drip or pour some of the oils onto a cloth and simply set it in the sauna with you, again adding fragrance to the air of the whole sauna. You can also apply the essential oils mixed with a carrier directly on your skin, rubbing them in as you would a massage or tanning oil and receive more "individualized" benefits from the oils. Mix the combinations at home and take your pre-made aromatherapy oils to the spa or sauna with you. Most spas also have aromatherapy oils on site that you can purchase to enhance your sauna and increase its health benefits.