Professional Aromatherapy Training in the Use of Essential Oils

Posted on: July 6th, 2009 by
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Aromatherapy training widely varies from country to country and from provider to provider. Both the UK and the USA have similar regulations for aromatherapy practitioners, although I would say the UK is slightly ahead in trying to ‘standardize’ the practice of aromatherapy.

However, that is not to say that the UK has strict guidelines for an aromatherapy practitioner; it is possible in both the USA and the UK to set up as an ‘aromatherapist’ with no training in aromatherapy or essential oils. At the other end of the scale, in France, only a medically qualified doctor can authorize (professionally) the use of essential oils.

So, for someone who wants to practice as a ‘professional’ aromatherapist, where do you start? There are hundreds and thousands of aromatherapy courses out there from online, distance learning and taught classes ranging from a couple of hours to years in length.

Probably the best place to start is with an introductory course to aromatherapy or essential oils to discover if you would like to learn more. These are very informal classes and can be done online or at a local college.

Next, if you decide to progress further, choose a quality course that will give you a good grounding in the basic essential oils, an anatomy and physiology course and the safe use of essential oils. Knowing the basic botany of plants is also useful. A quality course will require you to take an exam or be continually assessed through assignments.

So how do you choose a ‘good’ course provider? In the USA, you can check the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy website for course providers; in the UK, check out the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists. Look for a course provider who has experience and training in their field, is willing to answer your questions before you sign up, can provide you with literature about the training school etc It may also be possible to speak to past students of the aromatherapy school to see what they thought of it. Also ask for recommendations of schools from like minded individuals.

Also consider what you want to get out of the course and what you want to do when you have completed the course. Some courses focus on massage and the use of essential oils; others focus just on essential oil use. Some post-grad courses focus on the science and use of essential oils in more complex ways, but you usually have to have completed the basic course first.

You can use aromatherapy and essential oils practice in many ways. After completing a course, you can:

- practice aromatherapy in a massage setting, either set up your own business or apply for work in spas/massage centers (although in the USA, depending on state, you may have to become a licensed massage therapist (LMT))
- with further knowledge and training, teach aromatherapy
- write about aromatherapy if you have writing skills
- speak about aromatherapy at conferences, groups etc
- launch your own essential oil blend products (but check out local and country regulations required to do so)
- combine aromatherapy with other holistic practices such as reflexology and herbal medicine.

As for my professional training in aromatherapy, I studied with the Penny Price Aromatherapy Academy in England, although training with Penny Price is also available in the USA. I have been in the USA for 3 years now and, having had my own aromatherapy practice for a couple of years, am now considering a change of direction, having learnt a lot about how aromatherapy is practiced in the USA. Just recently, I found the aromahead institute in Florida and will be taking their teacher training course in April 2010 to further my aromatherapy education and business.

In the USA, it is also possible to become a registered aromatherapist, and although not a requirement to practice aromatherapy, it shows, to some degree, the professionalism of an aromatherapist. You are required to take an exam and your registration is good for 5 years. There are differing opinions on the validity or value of the aromatherapy registration in the USA but it is something I hope to do in the near future.

If anyone has any recommendations or comments about their own aromatherapy training or future training in essential oils, please let me know!

Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, and the Use of Herbs and Healing Plants

Posted on: July 6th, 2009 by

Hippocrates (460 B.C. – 377 B.C), the Greek healer and physician, is known by most people who are interested in plants and who use them to heal. Long before aromatherapy essential oils were in common usage, many people used the actual plant to heal. Hippocrates is accredited with changing the way medicine was viewed and used healing plants as part of his hippocratic theory.
Hippocrates used ginger as ‘ warming’ herb to soothe ‘cold’ conditions and he used members of the mint family to ‘cool’ ‘warming’ conditions; much of what is written about Hippocrates is subject to different verifications/interpretations but he did contribute much to medicine as we know it today.
Read Medicinal Plants and Herbs Used by Hippocrates to learn more…

Chemistry of Essential Oils

Posted on: July 3rd, 2009 by
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…….is complicated! So, I wrote an introductory article on the subject at suite101 today. Chemistry of essential oils fascinates me and is is something which I intend to study more indepth in the near future. Many people do not simply realize what one little essential oil bottle can hold!
For further information check out Chemistry of Essential Oils
I will be sharing some valuable resources for the chemistry of essential oils in the near future too…

Coconut Oil

Posted on: June 29th, 2009 by
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Coconut oil is often thought of exotic and is found in many cosmetic bases and products; however, despite usually being a fractionated oil for aromatherapy use, coconut oil does have some therapeutic use in massage, mainly as a carrier oil, either for use on its on or with the addition of essential oils. It is good for softening the skin and soothing it too. It has been used in Ayuverdic medicine for hair loss, burns and heart problems.
Coconut oil comes from the coconut tree (Cocos nucifera), a palm tree which is found growing wild on tropical coastlines and beaches in many countries. It is the fruit of the coconut tree which is of value for therapeutic practice, although the leaves and trunk of the coconut tree do have other values too.
Some interesting facts about coconut oil -
- Coconut oil is often found in hair products as it moisturizes dry hair
- Coconut oil is used by women, for their hair, in tropical countries from an early age and seems to prevent both baldness and graying!
- Coconut oil aids tanning, and should be used with care by those with sensitive skin, as the sun’s rays are not blocked by coconut oil.
For more information on coconut oil read the uses of the coconut tree

The Use of Palmarosa Essential Oil To Adulterate Rose

Posted on: June 24th, 2009 by
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Palmarosa is perhaps not a very well know essential oil – but the oil it is used to adulterate is! Rose oil is commonly adulterated by Palmarosa due to its similar scent. However Palmarosa essential oil does have many properties and uses in aromatherapy in its own right and shouldn’t be dismissed as just as ‘adulterator’. Read my latest suite article – Palmarosa essential oil - to learn more…

How To Use Essential Oils Safely

Posted on: June 23rd, 2009 by
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Essential oils are safe to use – if you understand them! Many people make the mistake of thinking they are just ‘nice smells’ like perfume and do not realize the power one little bottle may hold. Apart from taking the time to study, either through books or through a course, there a few basic concepts to using essential oils safely. These include:
- never use essential oils neat, that is directly onto the skin, unless you have had significant training and knowledge in the neat application of essential oils; even then, some essential oils should still never be used neat.
- be aware that some essential oils are phototoxic, so be careful when going out in the sun – see phototoxic essential oils for further information.
- always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil.
- store essential oils in a dark colored glass bottle, such as amber or cobalt blue, to avoid interference from light and possible changes in the chemical components of the essential oil.
- store essential oils in a cool, dark place to preserve the shelf life of the essential oil. Some oils, such as the citrus oils, don’t have a long natural, shelf life but others, such as Patchouli, are said to mature with age, but still need to be stored correctly.
- when using essential oils with children, the elderly, pregnant women or other vulnerable groups, dilute the essential oils in a carrier oil more than usual. Some essential oils should not be used in pregnancy or with babies and children, so know your oil before using.
- take a ‘case history’, if the essential oil use is not for yourself. Even if you are not a qualified aromatherapist, asking a few questions about the person’s medical history, allergies and other health concerns might prevent misuse of the essential oil. For example, some essential oils are contraindicated for use with heart problems and high blood pressure.
- keep essential oils out of the reach of children and pets; they can be harmful in the wrong hands (or paws!)
- finally, always label your essential oil blend with its contents! Not only does this indicate what’s in the bottle but may avoid possible misuse by someone who comes across it!
Some of these points may sound logical but if you want to use essential oils safely it doesn’t hurt to state the obvious and avoid a potential mishap! There are probably many more hazardous chemicals and cleaning agents around your home but it should be remembered that essential oils are, after all, little bottles of chemicals….albeit, ‘good’ ones if used correctly!