Relax and Heal with DIY Massage Oil

By Amy Baker

According to Lissa Rankin, MD, author of Mind Over Medicine:  Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself, our bodies are beautifully equipped with natural self-repair mechanisms that operate optimally when we are calm and relaxed.  These mechanisms can fight infection, cure disease, heal wounds, affect our gene expression and more.  They get deactivated, though, when our bodies are full of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine.  When we are in “fight-or-flight” mode — which many of us are a good deal of the time — our bodies’ ability to heal and protect is compromised.

There are many ways to get out of the “fight-or-flight” stress response and to elicit our relaxation response.  When we do this, cortisol levels drop, and our body’s self-repair mechanisms get back to healing.  Massage is a proven way to activate our relaxation response.  This can be a massage given to you by a practitioner, friend or family member, or it can be a caring self-massage.  Shoot for 30-45 minutes, but even a 10-minute foot or hand massage can do wonders.  Turn off your electronic devices.  Turn down the lights.  Light a candle and/or put on calming music. Give yourself time to think about nothing but the amazing healing potential inside you.

Making a Massage Oil – a few key notes:

  • In a pinch, you can use any good quality oil for a massage. Make sure it’s organic and fresh (your nose will tell you if it’s gone bad).  Easy, economical choices include the olive and coconut oils in your kitchen cabinet.
  • Excellent choices for massage/carrier oils include: Almond Oil (medium weight, moisturizing), Apricot Kernel Oil (rich, nourishing, good for dry, sensitive skin) and Jojoba Oil (absorbs quickly; good for dry, inflamed skin).
  • The addition of therapeutic oils to your blend can amp-up the healing power of your massage. Consider Magnesium Oil for sore muscles, John’s Wort Oil for back pain/stiffness and nerve pain, and Calendula Oil for tender, irritated skin.
  • Essential oils make a lovely addition and can increase the relaxation response. Add them to your carrier oil this way when preparing a massage oil for adults:
    • 2-5 drops of essential oil per teaspoon carrier oil
    • 6-15 drops of essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil
    • 20-40 drops of essential oil per 4 oz. of carrier oil
  • Store your massage oils in a tinted glass bottle to protect them from degradation.

Massage Oil Recipes

Here are some soothing massage oil recipes to get you started.  Some are new and some are from the Community Pharmacy archives; all are divine.  All ingredients, including some lovely pump and screw-top bottles, are available at Community Pharmacy and Community Wellness Shop.   These oils are easy to personalize with favorite scents, so while you’re making a blend for yourself, whip up one – or more! – for a gift.   Here’s to happy, healthy making!

Relaxation Massage Oil
4 oz.          carrier oil
20 drops   lavender e.o.
12 drops   rose e.o.
8 drops     vetiver e.o.

 Sore Muscle Massage Oil
2 oz           carrier oil
1 oz           St. John’s Wort oil
1 oz           magnesium oil
15 drops   ginger e.o.
15 drops   rosemary e.o.

Stress Relief Massage Oil (calming and grounding)
4 oz.          carrier oil
10 drops   lavender e.o.
10 drops   orange e.o.
10 drops   bergamot e.o.
10 drops   cedarwood e.o.

Three Sisters Massage Oil (soothing for hormone-related stress)
4 oz           carrier oil
18 drops   lavender e.o.
13 drops   bergamot e.o.
9 drops     geranium e.o. (or grapefruit for a more uplifting scent)

Flower Fairy Massage Oil (clean, bright yet calming)
4 oz           carrier oil
20 drops   lavender e.o.
10 drops   chamomile e.o.
5 drops     grapefruit e.o. (or grapefruit for a more uplifting scent)


Amy Baker is a gardener, teacher, wildcrafter, herb enthusiast and an award-winning writer.  She has studied herbal medicine with various teachers in Chicago and Madison, and earned her certification as a Culinary Nutrition Expert and Instructor through the Academy of Culinary Nutrition. Amy has enjoyed creating plant medicines, natural beauty and cleaning products, and all manner of tasty, nutritious, healing recipes for decades.