Alliance of International Aromatherapists Wed, 30 Nov 2016 17:20:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Shanti Dechen, CCAP, CAI, LMT Tue, 08 Nov 2016 22:54:54 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Shanti Dechen, CCAP, CAI, LMT is the founder and director of Aroma Apothecary Healing Arts Academy, is a certified clinical aromatherapist, and has been a clinical aromatherapy instructor for the last 16 years. Shanti is also a clinical holistic health practitioner and a certified massage therapist since 1979. She has a university background in healing and the sciences—over 15,000 hours of extensive holistic training and certification in bodymind therapies.

Her extensive training includes many modalities of healing including; Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Practioner and Teacher, Herbology, Plant Medicine, Massage Therapy (including Deep Tissue) and other healing modalities well as  Chi Nei Tsang: Visceral Rejuvenation, Bodymind Clearing, Lymphatic Drainage, Acupressure, Craniosacral Therapy, Asian Healing Arts, Plant Medicine, Applied Kinesiology, Polarity, Medical Qi Gong, Nutrition, Reflexology, Energy Medicine, Stress Management and Meditation. 

Shanti has worked in clinical settings and studied in a variety of healing modalities for the last thirty-seven years in the US, Canada, Germany, Thailand, and the Caribbean. This lifelong passion has lead her to establish and direct Aroma Apothecary Healing Arts Academy since 2002. website: 

My Opinion: Plants as Antimicrobial Agents Wed, 02 Nov 2016 23:49:22 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Article by Raphael d’Angelo, M.D.


As a planet the human family faces many health challenges. One of the most pressing is the upsurge of infectious diseases that ranks high on the list of the most serious causes of death worldwide. The past century saw remarkable advances in the war on infectious agents with the advent of sulfa and penicillin followed by a host of newer antibiotics. Organisms initially succumbed to these miracle chemicals but the adaptability of these bacterial microbes began to fend off the antibiotic attack. As the 1900s came to a close the rate of antibiotic resistance had climbed to levels of great concern and continues unabated.


Even more widespread than bacterial infections are the viral diseases. They have a track record of decimating populations with virtually no opposition from modern day science. Immunization and chemical antivirals have helped curtail a few viral diseases. Nevertheless, we find ourselves looking at the possibility of pandemic influenza, the continued onslaught of human immunodeficiency virus and newer emerging viruses such as Zika virus for which there are no defenses.


The parasitic organisms are ubiquitous and have impacted the morbidity and mortality rates in many parts of the world. Fungal infections are on the rise. As opportunistic invaders of those with an immune compromised status or those whose internal environment supports their growth, recognition and treatment remain lacking.


There is an urgent need to bring new tools and techniques to the treatment of infectious diseases. Essential oils are loaded with terpenoid compounds that have anti-infectious properties. Essential oils traditionally have been used in the treatment of infections and more recently have been found to be effective in many types of infections including methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).


Modern medical aromatherapy is almost one hundred years old. The loosely organized aspects of this profession as well as its fru fru public image have hampered its acceptance as a bona fide treatment modality. Now is a good time to push the truth of essential oil therapy for infectious diseases to the forefront. We need this to happen for many reasons not the least of which is to place a safe natural option into the hands of doctors, therapists and the people at large.


For the clinical aromatherapist there has to be a time in the near future where his or her skills and knowledge of aromatherapy for infectious diseases will be welcomed and integrated into the conventional healing programs. To make this a reality we need case reports and outcome studies in the literature. We also need to educate ourselves in the safe use of essential oils beyond the narrow scope of minimal dilution practices, if there will be any possibility of effectively combating infectious agents. And we also need to become comfortable recognizing and treating adverse reactions that are unfortunately quite uncommon.

Dawn Chan Curtis Mon, 10 Oct 2016 19:31:18 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Beyond Aromatherapy is a boutique practice offereing aromatherapy services from a holistic and clinical approach. We tailor therapeutic blends for individual clients based on in-depth consultation (that includes medical background, lifestyle and dietary patterns.) We organize aromatherapy training programs privately or jointly with health organizations and education institutions. We have also developed a number of aromatherapy products for retail sales in Hong Kong. 


Dawn Chan Curtis is the founder of Beyond Aromatherapy. She is also a “Advanced Practitioner” member of AIA and an International Member of IFPA. Upon graduation from a Holistic Aromatherapy Diploma program in Hong Kong, she went further to complete three levels of Advanced Clinical Aromatherapy Courses under world renowned clinical aromatherapist Rhiannon Lewis in France. Dawn was an owner and director of an aromatherapy school in Hong Kong from 2009-2012 while being a tutor and therapist of the school at the same time. She started
her own private practice in April 2012, with emphasis on clinical approaches and applications. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree from the University of Hong Kong in 1987.

Plantar Fibromatosis Treated with Aromatherapy (Case Study Report) Sun, 02 Oct 2016 15:56:14 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Article by Stefania Borrelli


NOTE FROM AUTHOR: Among the ingredients, I wrote “Sardinia Helichrysum” on purpose since it’s the one I generally use – having similar chemical components and imported from Italy (which is close to Corsica).


Client Background

Age: 51

General State of Physical Health: Good

General State of Emotional Health: Good


Description of the case: I report the case of a 52 year-old Italian female with no family history or cytogenetic abnormality who presented with a plantar fibromatosis, small nodular fibrotic thickening of the central plantar fascia, corresponding to the solar plexus point. It started with a tiny, pea-sized nodule in the middle of her arch. The woman presented then a painful swelling of her right sole. The swelling associated was tender to touch with a dull aching type of pain which prevented her from walking, even small distances, without pain.


A plantar fibromatosis is a benign nodule that grows on the bottom of the foot and usually appears in the second through sixth decade of life. It is usually slow growing and measures less than an inch in size. It comprises extra fibrotic or collagen tissue. This additional collagen is normally denoted as a fibroma. These tissue growths would also grow in size if the treatment is delayed.


Symptoms which are normal with plantar fibromatosis include:


  • Firm lump in the arch of the foot
  • Lump can cause pain
  • Pain is caused from the pressure of shoes


Treatment protocol and method:


I decided to utilize 2 products for acute issue: 1 roll-on oil blend (25% dilution) and another roll-on oil blend (10% dilution). I used essential oils for their properties as analgesic, anti-inflammatory, circulatory and detoxifying effect on the skin as well as for the muscular and skeletal system.


Roll-on oil blend #1:


In a 10 ml carrier oil blend – Arnica montana extract, Olea europaea (olive) Fruit Oil and Calendula officinalis (Calendula) oil – I added a 25% dilution of:


  • Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil – 10 drops
  • Piper Nigrum (Black Pepper) seed oil – 5 drops
  • Matricaria Recutita (German Chamomile) oil – 10 drops
  • Helichrysum italicum (Sardinia Helichrysum) oil – 10 drops
  • Origanum vulgare (Origano) oil – 10 drops
  • Boswellia Sacra (Frankincense) oil – 5 drops


Roll-on oil blend #2:


In a 10ml carrier oil blend – Arnica montana extract, Olea europaea (olive) Fruit Oil and Calendula officinalis (Calendula) oil – I added a 10% dilution of:


  • Commiphora myrrha (Myrrh) Oil – 3 drops
  • Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea tree) seed oil – 5 drops
  • Helichrysum italicum (Sardinia Helichrysum) oil – 5 drops
  • Gualtheria Procumbens (Wintergreen) oil – 2 drops
  • Boswellia carterii (Frankincense) oil – 5 drops


Directions for using the products:


The first and second day she applied these oil blends daily, about every two – three hours, by alternating the oil blend. The third and fourth day, she applied the products 4-5 times a day. The fifth and sixth day only once-twice a day.


During and after the treatment she did not have any side effects, nor any allergic reaction or dermatitis on her foot.



General references on essential oils components, therapeutic benefits and safety:


  • Medical Aromatherapy – Kurt Schnaubelt
  • Aromatherapy for Health Professionals – Shirley Price, Len Price
  • Essential oil Safety – Tisserand , Young




Pictures were taken at different hours of the day after applying the oil blend. The day before the fibroma was a little bigger.


August 2016 – DAY 1 –


Plantar Fibromatosis Day




Plantar Fibromatosis Day 2




Plantar Fibromatosis Day 3




Plantar Fibromatosis Day 4




Plantar Fibromatosis Day 5


Stefania Borrelli

Stefania Borrelli is a member of AIA and Director (2014). Originally from Rome, Italy, Stefania Borrelli, a creative and enthusiast Italian aromatherapist, began her holistic journey in 1979 in her native country. Her studies in Aromatherapy started together with her love for botanics, at the age of 15. Her interest in Holistic therapies expanded in the study of Energy Healing, Ayurveda, Chinese, Medicine and Psychoneuroimmunology. In 2009 she founded JoyAmore, a business providing holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle by restoring balance through Aromatherapy. Her new business is – Pure & Natural Italian Lifestyle.

American Aromatherapy: The Struggle to Find the Middle Ground Sun, 02 Oct 2016 15:53:48 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Article written by Lora Cantele


This article previously appeared in two parts in In Essence Vol.14 No. 3 & 4 (Winter 2015 and Spring 2016) and in Aromatika Vol. 3, Issue 1 (2016)


Introduction-Aromatherapy in the U.S.

Essential oil use in the United States is on the rise at a great pace, however safe and responsible use have been pushed aside in favor of higher profits.  With the wide-spread use of inauthentic Aromatherapy, practitioners in the United States now find themselves in at odds with those new to Aromatherapy as well as each other. 


Controversy over issues such as the perceived differences between the British and French models of Aromatherapy, to dilute or not dilute, oral ingestion, free education or certification, and the rise of industry watchdogs have put our community and practices under additional scrutiny.


The Aromatherapy community in America has become divisive and there is a need for practitioners and Aromatherapy associations to join together to provide a unified front with regard to training, certifications, as well as safe and responsible use.  


This paper will highlight some of the major changes of Aromatherapy in the United States and the role social media plays in the ever-changing American landscape of essential oil use. In addition, it will report on the current use of Aromatherapy in clinical settings in the U.S.


In the U.S., Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) use is growing rapidly, however it is relatively unregulated. According to Berland et al., (2001), many studies have been conducted into the information provided to the consumer/patient about health conditions on the internet. They conclude that “the coverage of health information is poor and inconsistent although accuracy is generally good.” However there is a lack an comprehension of the information as presented as a higher level of reading is required. Additionally, other studies (Li et al., 2001; Beredjikilian et al, 2000) have shown that a review of many websites for a variety of common health concerns were found to contain poor quality of information and could be classified more as advertising. Minor reviews of CAM websites imply that the “unconventional” information is inaccurate. It is important to review the content of many of CAM websites, as consumers have wide access to unregulated therapies and the website information tends to influence consumer behavior (Sagaran et al., 2002). While these studies may be older, in this author’s opinion, not much has changed. There is limited quality of evidence for Aromatherapy use in the U.S. (Forrester et al, 2014; Lillehei and Halcón, 2014; Mayden, 2012). Recent estimates of Aromatherapy use among the general population in the U.S. are inadequate, however according to Eisenberg (1998), 5.6% of 2,055 U.S. adults surveyed reported using Aromatherapy, either clinically or in some other way.


Enter the multi-level marketing companies (MLMs)

While the MLMs have been hugely successful in introducing Aromatherapy to the masses, they have been equally unsuccessful in providing quality education in the use of essential oils to their independent distributors and, in turn, the consumers they sell to. “Education” is provided predominantly via an essential oil desk reference or other book created by the parent company or one of their “expert” associates. These books are an optional purchase presented to the independent distributor. In addition, these books (upon closer review) have been shown to contain many factual errors. Many examples of these errors include chemical components being assigned to the incorrect functional group or chemical components listed in the monographs not typically found in the profile of a given essential oil. In his review of David Stewart’s1 book The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple: God’s Love Manifest in Molecules, Robert Tisserand (2102) discusses many inaccuracies of a single passage on Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha), Stewart’s criticisms of the British and their “alleged” use of essential oils, and the overall “fact-to-error ratio” within Stewart’s book.


“Education” is also presented by way of corporate conferences which seem to do little to provide solid education as most of the information presented is through testimonials of other independent distributors and those in the upper circle that often support their statements with bad science. An example of this can be found in a video from such a conference in which one company’s “expert”  makes a statement that 10 ml of Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) essential oil is equivalent to taking one aspirin2.


1David Stewart possesses a PhD in Theoretical Seismology and is the co-founder of The Center for Aromatherapy Research and Education (CARE), providing instruction in the controversial Raindrop Technique and additional educational courses in Aromatherapy for the Young Living Essential Oil company.

2 Videos of several of these lectures can be viewed by searching “Laura Jacob” and “doTERRA” at


Many authentic practitioners of Aromatherapy are outraged by the recommendations for use using social media vehicles. Social memes that suggest methods such as drinking several drops of Lemon (Citrus limon) essential oil in water and using neat Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) on a baby/child’s feet. In addition, many of the recipes shared in books by authentic Aromatherapists are often changed by a layperson who has no knowledge of the chemistry of such recipe nor the safety of the revised recipe and reproduced as a social meme. This gets published online through social media with a line that says “it worked for me” and many take on the advice due to the testimonial. There is little regard for not only the safety, but also for the education of the original creator of the recipe. Recently a colleague contacted me about a client of hers who was seeking a safer way to use essential oils with her children (three girls) all diagnosed with P.A.N.D.A.S. (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections). The girls were advised by an independent distributor from one of the larger MLMs to consume nearly 3 mls of essential oil internally and topically per day. Methods such as these that use copious amounts of essential oil keep the consumer coming back to buy more essential oils and more often. A great marketing tool if you don’t care much for the safety of your clients.


Among others, there are three frequent comments often touted by independent distributors relating to recommended methods, adverse reactions, and essential oil quality. The first is with regard to the “British” vs. “French” models of essential oil use. There is a perception that Aromatherapy is nothing more than beauty therapy in Britain. The use of essential oils is limited to topical application via massage and blended into skincare  and other personal care products. However the “French” method is considered far superior as it includes internal and undiluted use of essential oil. When looking at the perceived amount of oil used in these methods it appears that using the “French” model supports the independent distributor’s recommendations for using more essential oil in a given situation, hence the need for the client to purchase more frequently.

Adverse reactions are explained away as a “detoxification of viruses through the skin” or simply a “healing crisis.” Any doctor or nurse would tell you that burning and blistering of the skin is not a sign of detoxification, however these explanations seem to satisfy a consumer and the adverse event remains unreported to the parent company. In most cases, the client and the independent distributor are friends and a friend would not want to believe that another friend would intentionally suggest anything that would inflict harm. Let us not forget about liability. Too many times I have been accused of following the “British” method of topical application only for fear of the powerful healing ability of essential oils or that perhaps my oils are not pure enough. I am a Registered Aromatherapist trained at a Clinical level practicing in the U.S., but I restrict my use as my practitioner liability insurance does not cover me for any method of internal use. And finally to the issue of quality.


“Most of the problems associated with using essential oils are due to the fact that people are using food grade, organic, natural and other various ‘named’ oils that are of poor quality, adulterated and are just not for therapeutic use!”3 This statement and those like it are frequent among the independent distributors. Marketing materials boasting “Certified Natural Therapeutic Grade” imply a superior quality. Effective claims such as, “Our oils are so pure they are the only essential oils that can be ingested” are making their way onto the scene. Authentic Aromatherapists  well know that there is no independent body that certifies essential oils as therapeutic grade. However many companies making this claim are able to promote their own therapeutic grade standard because they certify their oils in-house to meet their standards of quality. In addition, the two major MLMs have their oils listed as “dietary supplements” with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). In the U.S., essential oils are generally listed as “cosmetics.” By listing an essential oil as a “dietary supplement” it means that the manufacturer must provide the FDA a monograph and additional safety information about the essential oil, as well as comply with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and report any adverse event to the FDA. This may seem a little nonsensical as essential oils provide no nutritional value, however being listed as a “dietary supplement” allows for ingestion of the essential oil. So in reality, the oils can be consumed owing to its status at the FDA, not because they are any purer than another. This distinction is not known by the average consumer. In addition, despite having to be accountable for reporting adverse reactions, many adverse events are not reported to the FDA. Why? Because they are most often reported to the independent distributor who sold the oil to the consumer who explains it away as indicated above and the complaint never reaches the parent company who is responsible for reporting it.


3  Statement found at


AHPA guidelines to be revised?

Founded in 1982, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is the oldest of the non-profit organizations that specializes in service to the herbal industry. It is the voice of the herbal products industry and the recognized leader in representing the botanical trade. With more than 300 members, AHPA’s membership represents the finest growers, processors, manufacturers, and marketers of botanical and herbal products. It is the only U.S. trade association that is focused primarily on herbs and botanicals and herbal products.4 Earlier this year I was asked to be a guest on the AHPA Botanical Personal Care Products Committee. I was taken aback by the suggestion that the committee consider developing guidelines and recommendations for the internal use of essential oils. It is believed that as the MLMs are listed with the FDA as dietary supplements and the companies are recommending ingestion of their oils, that it might be prudent to develop such guidelines. I was shocked. After some discussion it was decided that a special working group be created to investigate the pros and cons of the creation of the guidelines and recommendations for internal use. It can be argued that even though many essential oils are listed as GRAS, the maximum internal dose varies from oil to oil. Many qualified practitioners will consult Essential Oil Safety (Tisserand and Young, 2014) which lists dermal and internal maximum doses based on years of dedicated research, before prescribing any internal use. So there is no one-size-fits-all statement that can be placed on every oil on the market regarding internal use. In addition, there exists many considerations for the safety of ingesting essential oils including; dosage, duration, the client’s general health and constitution, and possible essential oil/drug interactions, that internal use of essential oils is highly individualized and not something that can be reduced and printed on a small label. For this reason I don’t believe there to be a need to develop these guidelines and recommendations. Additionally, the APHA guidelines and recommendations were created for the members of AHPA and the MLMs are not currently members. While there has been some discussion of the matter, the topic seems to have been put on hold. There is some interest in moving forward, however the committee chair has advised that the topic will be revisited at a later date.




Trade association vs. watchdog group

With the widespread messaging of the MLMs through social media, some have elected to move into action to counter their messaging. In November 2014, the American Essential Oil Trade Association (AEOTA) surfaced as a member-drive trade association. The AEOTA grew out of the Aromatherapy United group responsible for the FDA petition that resulted in the warning letters from the FDA to two of the leading MLMs. Their mission was two-fold: 1) To promote the safe and legal sale of essential oils and aromatherapy products in the U.S.A. and 2) To work to positively influence the regulatory environment affecting the essential oil and Aromatherapy product industry by demonstrating our member’s ability to self-regulate and focus on ethics, safety, and integrity. Their initial goals were not unlike those of the Aromatherapy Trade Council (ATC) in the U.K. however the way they went about their business was different. Many essential oil suppliers refused to join the AEOTA as it meant signing an agreement that would make it necessary for the member to “sanitize” their website to comply with FDA regulations regarding marketing. This meant that claims of therapeutic benefits would no longer be displayed with regard to an essential oil or blend. As this would inhibit the marketing of the essential oils, many decided to continue as usual and hope to “fly under the radar.” Something that many Aromatherapists in the U.S. may have been doing for many years. Unfortunately, some the founding members of the AEOTA drew lots of attention to those selling essential oils when they submitted a petition against the MLMs and their marketing to the FDA. This petition led to the warning letters that were sent to two of the larger MLM companies5 6 with instructions to cease and desist their marketing claims. Some of these claims included the use of essential oils to cure the Ebola Virus, Cancer, Heart Disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease. This was great for calling out the MLMs on their marketing practices, but it also put Aromatherapists on notice with regard to their own websites. Eventually the FDA started to crackdown on suppliers of carrier oils and base products, including a well-known supplier who listed the therapeutic uses of the carrier oils on their website.7






The AEOTA created four proposals for consideration by the FDA. The first was to examine how essential oils were sold legally in other countries and how over-the-counter (OTC) products containing essential oils (considered drugs in the U.S.) were able to be sold in other countries. From the information gathered, the goal was to amend the FDA OTC Monographs to include 14 essential oils, along with their medical claims to be allowed in the marketing of those essential oils. This proposal was dropped in February 2015 and the association amended the part of the AEOTA’s mission statement regarding influencing the regulatory environment to simply focus on ethics, integrity and safety.


The second proposal was to draft a bill to amend the current FDA regulations to create a new category allowing  “first aid” or “home remedy”-type uses of essential oils considered GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe), but did not constitute a “New Drug Application.” This measure was to decriminalize the implied medical claims.


“Civil disobedience” was the basis of the third proposal. In this proposal, the essential oil trade could formally decide to make the medical claims due to their belief that consumers should be informed on the uses of essential oils and how to use them safely.


In March 2015, the members of the AEOTA voted to adopted Aromatherapy United as a project with a focus on adverse reaction reporting. This activity is to demonstrate to the public that the essential oil community is making an effort to self-regulate and determine best practices by identifying the ways they cause harm when used improperly.


Despite being a trade organization, the AEOTA through their facebook page became more of “watch dog” group with much commentary and action surrounding the outrage at the social media marketing of the MLMs. It seemed that the association itself was using membership funds not for moving their agenda with the FDA forward, but rather to call out the MLMs and chastise the independent distributors publicly for their “unsafe” advice. The AEOTA should have concerned themselves with the marketing of their own members who pledged to abide by the FDA rules. Instead, it began trolling through the websites of Aromatherapists trained in Aromatic Medicine and those practitioners and educators were then publicly dragged through the mud for their beliefs, despite their advanced training. The environment on facebook within the aromatic community became very contentious. Eventually a separate facebook page was formed called Essential Oil Consumer Safety Advocates. This allowed the AEOTA to continue focusing on their FDA goals and took the witch hunt to another page. Despite this, the AEOTA facebook page has seen little activity since June 2015 and seems to have lost momentum with their goals.


With all the controversy over methods of use as recommended by independent distributors, social media saw a lot of discussion over internal/external and diluted/undiluted use of essential oils. Practitioners and educators trained in internal use were having to defend themselves online.

Practices involving undiluted use were called into question about their safety. While many got into heated debates publicly, others simply shared the guidelines of the American Aromatherapy organizations. Both the Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) and the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) have clear safety guidelines and information on their websites. Both organizations concur that there is a time and a place for undiluted and internal use of essential oils, however they should only be employed by a practitioner trained at an appropriate level. The AIA further adds that an appropriate level of training includes: chemistry, anatomy, diagnostics, physiology, formulation guidelines and safety issues regarding each specific internal route (oral, vaginal or rectal).8




Education and free information

The internet provides a means to get information on demand, but does that mean that we as educated practitioners are required to participate in the sharing of information and to correct the misinformation being provided from layperson to layperson? In reading the comments in a thread on one of the facebook groups I belong to, I was appalled at the statement of a layperson who said that she rightfully had the expectation that knowledgeable Aromatherapists are required to share their information for free on the internet. She further stated that anytime she asked an Aromatherapist for advice on social media she was put off that the Aromatherapist would advise her to make an appointment for a consultation. She indicated that Aromatherapists were only about making money and not ensuring the safety of others. I contacted her about her statements. Her position was that the advent of the internet makes free information readily accessible and she has every right as a consumer surfing for information to demand it for free. There is little regard for the several years of education and a financial investment it takes to become a professional practitioner.  Even less of interest, was the holistic approach I take with each client individually. Additionally, I am concerned that any advice I offer on social media could be widely shared and altered (but still credited to me) and someone could be harmed. My personal liability is at stake, as well as that of other practitioners who may engage in the sharing of information on social media. Is social media retarding the practice of the professional Aromatherapist? I think it might be. With so much free information online coupled with the accessibility of the essential oils, it is now possible for people to self-diagnose and self-prescribe.


Aromatherapy in clinical settings

Where does Aromatherapy fit within the American healthcare system? Many nurses are now becoming educated in Aromatherapy, however the training programs they undertake can differ greatly. There are wonderful schools available in the U.S. created by veterans of the aromatic community, such as R. J. Buckle and Associates (Dr. Jane Buckle) and the Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy (Laraine Kyle Pounds and Valerie Cooksley). Both programs were developed by nurses for nurses and other healthcare providers. However, there are some nurses working in hospitals eager to use Aromatherapy that are not willing to do a full certification course and they tend to fall into one of two situations; they either find a short course (less than 30 hours) to learn some basics or they join an MLM group and utilize the marketing materials to get the product into the hospital system. I spoke with a colleague in Minnesota who has recognized this is happening. She reports that there are nurses who will use Aromatherapy with or without the training, so she has developed a short course with some of the basic oils currently approved for use in hospitals in America. In addition, she has developed a product that she is selling to the hospitals and other clinical sites such as hospices and nursing homes, to allow nurses to use Aromatherapy in a controlled and safe way.


For those that bring the MLM oils and protocols into the hospitals, there are as many authentic practitioners fighting to keep them out. Armed with the White Paper (Barber and Gagnon-Warr, 2001), injury reports (Aromatherapy United, 2014), paper on the safety and ethics of undiluted oils (Burfield and Sheppard-Hanger, 2005), and pages of research on the safety of some of the oils used in techniques like Raindrop Treatments, Aromatherapists (with the support of organizations like AIA9 and NAHA10) will  contact nurse managers to enlighten them about such practices and offer safe alternatives.





The impact of social media is being felt by practitioners reaching out to hospitals and clinical settings as well. With essential oil use becoming more wide-spread among laypeople and all the talk about safe and unsafe essential oils through social media sites, some hospital staff are scratching their heads about safety. We hear professional Aromatherapists advising against using specific oils and methods, presented in a black and white way—perhaps doing ourselves a disservice. The educated Aromatherapist formulates for safety, taking into consideration dosage, duration, selection of oils for efficacy as well as how they interact with other oils in the blend, and the most appropriate method in which to use. When seeing advice online suggesting a “one-size-fits-all treatment,” we tend to jump in to counter the advice by simply advocating against it and not by using the opportunity as a teachable moment to illustrate the effectiveness of essential oils in a safe and responsible manner. So our response (our message) becomes black and white. We must remain as objective, scientific and as non-emotional as possible.  If you present yourself as antagonistic, it will be a barrier to productive dialog. As we grow more accustomed to making blanket statements about safety and not discussing the why’s and the how’s of when, and when not to use essential oils, others don’t learn and they start to formulate their own thoughts and reservations about essential oil use. Subscribing to the continued “fear mongering” in the “us versus them” being played out in social media in turn hurts us as practitioners. This is the message we are currently sending. Some staff at hospitals and other facilities will not consider the use of essential oils and blends unless there is “zero risk.” Aromatherapists are being held to a higher standard than those in the hospital; for example, most hospital cleaning products are not evaluated the same way essential oils are. On the flip side, there are other hospitals that are allowing the MLMs in (through the nurses), along with their methods of use. Rather than condemn, we should become more inquisitive. We should ask why someone would use essential oils in a specific way and then share with them a better and safe alternative.


Hospitals and other facilities doing it right

Aromatherapy has gained wide acceptance in conventional medical care in some regions of the country. Aromatherapy in nursing is relatively new in the U.S., although some applications have been part of nursing practice for several decades (e.g. inhaled Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) for urinary retention) (Lillehei et al., 2015).


According to Lillehei et al. (2015), “In conventional health care systems, Aromatherapy is most frequently provided as an independent nursing intervention. Aromatherapy is generally among the least intensive options used in patient care for symptom management.” Essential oils are used mainly to improve well-being  and for symptom management. The most common symptoms addressed include anxiety, depression, nausea, pain, and sleep disturbances although there is growing research on the use of Aromatherapy with cancer, dementia, palliative care, and maternity care.


Many hospitals, nursing homes, and hospice programs are now incorporating protocols using essential oils. The most common among them are Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Spearmint (Mentha spicata), Peppermint (Mentha x piperita), Ginger (Zingiber officinale), and Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis). “Protocols are designed to be responsive to the needs of individual patients within the institutional context in order to provide safe, appropriate, and consistent yet tailored interventions. Policy and protocols address who can administer essential oils, desired therapeutic action, application methods, and storage and safety. There is often a choice of application methods and essential oils for symptom management” (Lillehei et al., 2015).  According to Halcón (2013), in each case the nurse selects the essential oil and application using knowledge and practice parameters and based on the intended therapeutic effect, the preferences and state of the patient, the timing of the intervention, and the chemical properties of the essential oil. As with any treatment given in this setting, information regarding the essential oil used, the protocol followed, patient reported outcome(s), and any adverse reactions are documented and should be made available for audit.  


How Aromatherapy is used in a clinical setting

Application methods used in nursing practice generally includes application by inhalation (e.g.1-2 drops on a cotton ball or 5 to10 drops in a diffuser) or topically (e.g. diluted to 1-5% concentration in a carrier). Essential oils topically applied have the advantage of incorporating touch and allowing absorption both through the skin, olfactory system, and lungs (Tisserand and Young, 2014). In a pilot program in Illinois, children with life-limiting illness received a weekly massage both two months before the Aromatherapy program was introduced into the program and for a year after. The nurse/massage therapist reported that the benefit of massage was 50% more effective when essential oils were used in the massage lotion than massages given using an unscented massage lotion (Cantele, 2013). At the Shore Medical Center (350-bed medical center) in New Jersey, the Aromatherapy program began with nurses performing hand massages at the bedside using Lavender (1% dilution) in lotion. As the program evolved other essential oils were incorporated including Peppermint, Ginger, Mandarin (Citrus retculata), Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), and Bergamot (Citrus x bergamia)(Gurdgiel et al., 2015). Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital (726-bed hospital) is the largest hospital in Fort Worth, Texas. In 2002, the interdisciplinary committee was formed to explore complementary and integrated healing modalities, including Aromatherapy. In 2004, the initial Aromatherapy training was provided by Jane Buckle, however the hospital now has five instructors who teach the course every 18 months. The nurses have an Aromatherapy kit that includes 33 essential oils. The primary method of application is through the use of personal inhalers (aromasticks), although in a pinch a nurse can place a drop or two of essential oil onto a cotton ball for the patient to inhale from. Topical application is provided by giving the patient a hand massage using essential oil in a carrier oil. The dilution is determined by the nurse. The most popular use of Aromatherapy is for stress/anxiety reduction using Lavender or Frankincense (Boswellia caterii). Other oils employed include Mandarin, Ginger and Peppermint for nausea, Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana) and/or Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) for abdominal distress and nausea. Other methods of use include foot baths or a 5% topical application to the abdomen. A few of the nurses will use a 10% dilution of Black pepper essential oil as a vasodilator to assist in locating a “hiding” vein for venipuncture (Scheidel, 2015).


AIA and its goal to integrate Aromatherapy into mainstream medical

The AIA serves as a resource for evidence-based Aromatherapy research for its members, as well as healthcare professionals. Among its goals, the AIA desires to bring together conventional medicine and natural therapies, with an emphasis on Aromatherapy, into a more harmonious relationship. By providing educational opportunities for its members and others through international conferences, teleseminars, workshops and research articles, the AIA helps to equip its clinical members to integrate with the medical community. The AIA Research Committee is currently conducting a research study, in cooperation with the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, entitled “Mapping Aromatherapy Use in the USA” to increase its understanding of how essential oils are currently being used in hospitals.


The changing landscape

While writing this paper, the landscape of Aromatherapy in the U.S. went through many changes. American Aromatherapists saw the rise and shift of focus of an essential oil trade association, warning letters to two of the largest essential oil distributors from the FDA, a warning letter to a base ingredient manufacturer known for providing quality education on raw materials, and a lot of divisiveness—not only amongst essential oil users, but also amongst and within our Aromatherapy organizations. We have also seen an increase in use of Aromatherapy in clinical settings including hospitals, hospices, palliative care facilities, and nursing homes.


There has also been a shift in education. Aromatherapy in the U.S. appears to be a blend of the what is perceived as the “British” and “French” models of Aromatherapy. Ten years ago Aromatherapy was provided generally via inhalation, topical application, and the use of beauty products enriched with essential oils. Over the years, more massage therapists began incorporating essential oils into their massage practices as “an enhancement.” Massage therapists in the U.S. require a separate license to practice in the U.S. and most receive no training in the use of essential oils and their safe application. Most spas provide a selection of essential oils to choose from, along with a laminated card with general indications for each oil, for your massage. Many of these oils are not oils that an authentic Aromatherapist would generally use without a full consultation; such as Clove (Eugenia caryophyllata), Wintergreen (Gaultheria fragmentissima), and Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum). Often times, one would find citrus or cineole-rich essential oils left uncapped throughout the massage allowing for oxidation of the oil. Raindrop Technique and similar methods of application began to find their way into spas and massage businesses. Through social media we are now seeing more advice given for internal (ingested) use through the advice of the MLM’s independent distributors. However, the advice given seems to be the result of information shared via “the telephone game,” where one passes information through another, to another and so on until the information has become completely disconnected. Due to these more intrusive methods of application and distorted information, we are seeing more educational offerings from those trained in Aromatic Medicine from other countries such as France and Australia. Additionally, there are more lectures and seminars that provide “myth-busting” of common misconceptions with essential oil use. There is more emphasis placed on safety of essential oils. As these fine educators bring their teachings to America, I find that those in attendance are qualified Aromatherapists and not necessarily those who might benefit more from the information (e.g. the independent distributors). Here again, divided camps. There are those who have tried to reach across the divide to engage with the MLMs to offer education. To date, these have been nothing more than a short meeting to introduce oneself and some effort to open the door to further dialog, but it’s a start.



As Aromatherapy use grows in the U.S., as well as the debate over how it is used, there is a need for standardization and unification. This requires uniting organizations, at least on common issues, to present a unified front to the public. The American organizations have remained very separate with no cooperation with the other. This is partly due to a misunderstanding from years back, but continues with veterans of each organization being stuck in old history. While on a couple of occasions a board member of one organization has reached out to the other (and vice versa), there has not been any movement to pursue collaboration.


It is this author’s suggestion (and one shared by many) that the Aromatherapy organizations in America need to come together over common issues and goals (e.g. educational standards for the various levels of Aromatherapy training, standards of practice, code of ethics, and safety) to present a united front while delivering a clear message to the American public. Better still, a merger of both organizations. It was refreshing to see so many new people at the 2015 international conference of the AIA, however as the veterans of our aromatic community prepare for retirement, there is a need for younger enthusiastic Aromatherapists to step up and serve on the boards and committees of these organizations to ensure their existence.


Why stop there? Imagine how much stronger the voice of Aromatherapists would be if there was one solid Aromatherapy organization in each country and they all worked collaboratively to create a foundation of professionalism and engaged in communication with other healthcare professionals and regulatory agencies for the betterment of the Aromatic community as a whole.

The prospect of a global voice to support Aromatherapy world-wide may be just what is in order to have the practice of Aromatherapy become a recognized and respected holistic healing modality.



Aromatherapy United. (2014 and 2015). Injury Reports. Available: Last accessed 20 October 2015.


Barber K and Gagnon-Warr J. (2001, revised 2002). White Paper: Raindrop Therapy. Available: Last accessed 29 October 2015.


Berland G K, Elliott MN, Morales L S, Algazy J I, Kravitz R L, Broder M S, Kanouse D E, Munoz J A, Purol J A, Lara M, Watkins K E, Yang H, McGlynn E A, (2001). Health information on the internet: accessibility, quality, and readability in English and Spanish. JAMA. 285 (20), p2612-2621.


Beredjiklian P K, Bozentka D J, Steinberg D R, Berstein J. (2000). Evaluating the source and content of orthopedic information on the Internet, The case of carpal tunnel syndrome. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 82-A (11), p1540-1543.


Burfield T and Sheppard-Hanger S. (2005). Aromatherapy Undiluted- Safety and Ethics [modified from a previous article “A Brief Safety Guidance on Essential Oils” written for IFA, Sept 2004]. Available: Last accessed: 29 October 2015.


Cantele L. (2012). Improving the Quality of Life of Children with Life-Limiting Illnesses. Journal of the Japanese Society of Aromatherapy. 11 (suppl.), p55-59.


Eisenburg D M, Davis R B, Ettner S L, Scott A, Wilkey S, Van Rompay M I, Kessler R C. (1998). Trends in alternative medicine use in the United States 1990-1997. JAMA. 280, p1569-1575.


Forrester L T, Maayan N G, Orrell M, Spector A E, Buchan L D, Soars-Weiser K. (2014). Aromatherapy for dementia (Review). The Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews. 2:CD003150.


Gurdgiel D, Bingenheimer D, Burke E. (2015). Introduction of Clinical Aromatherapy into a Community Hospital. International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy. 3 (4), p39-43.


Halcón L. (2013). Chapter 20: Aromatherapy in Complementary and Alternative Therapies in Nursing, 7th Ed. Lindquist, Snyder & Tracy, editors. New York: Springer Publishing, p323.


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Lillehei A S and Halcón L. (2014) A systematic review of the effect of inhaled essential oils on sleep. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 20 (6).


Lillehei A S, Halcón L, Kreitzer M J. (2015). Integrative Nursing and Aromatherapy in the United States. International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy. 3 (4), p31-35.


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Sagaram S, Walji M, Bernstam E. (2002). Evaluating the prevalence, content and readability of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) web pages on the internet. Proceedings of the  AMIA Symposium. p672–676. Available: Last accessed 25 October 2015.


Scheidel C. (2015). Introduction of Clinical Aromatherapy into a Community Hospital. International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy. 3 (4), p36-38.


Tisserand R. (2012). Book review: The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple: God’s Love Manifest in Molecules by David Stewart, PhD, DNM. International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy. 1 (3), p52-54.

Tisserand R and Young R. (2014). Essential Oil Safety, 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Elsevier.

Libby Doubler Mon, 12 Sep 2016 15:36:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]> As a clinical aromatherapist (CMAIA and Aromahead Scholars’ graduate ) and certified health coach (Institute for Integrative Nutrition graduate, certified by AADP) I am here to share the essentials that bring abundance and vibrancy to life. I have several programs that allow you to make small painless moves that will eventually lead you to a beautiful place. You’ll be singing Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” all day long!


Integrative  Essentials is my holistic wellness company that incorporates health coaching, aromatherapy and some unique products: Our motto is “sharing the essentials that bring abundance and vibrancy to life”. 

A Rare Glimpse into Adulteration of Essential Oils Wed, 07 Sep 2016 17:56:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Essential oil adulteration: camphor and turpentine


Article written by Dr. Raphael d’Angelo, AIA Medical Advisor


I recently was given a fascinating article entitled “How to Adulterate Volatile Oils: A Pre-1906 Manuscript Formulary” (G. Sonnedecker, 1990) and I think the AIA members would find this very informative as a part of aromatherapy history that we rarely encounter.


Adulteration is defined as “any practice that through intent or neglect, results in a variation of strength and/or purity from the professed quality of a drug” was the standard before 1859. In that year the budding American Pharmaceutical Association added ” the intentional addition to an article, for the purpose of gain, or deception…”


Documented falsification of natural substances goes all the way back to the Romans who used their five senses to detect adulterants. This was the only practical way until the early 1800s when physical and chemical tests became more available. The first published work on adulteration (1784) was from a pharmacist in Brussels La Falsification des Medicaments de Voile. The first American publication was by the physician-chemist Lewis C. Beck in 1846 under the title Adulteration of Various Substances Used in Medicine and the Arts.


In the 19th century as it is today, adulteration was a problem that was prevalent and not easily spotted or curtailed. In 1856 the National Wholesale Druggists Association concluded, “the best cultivated and most fruitful field for dishonest practices in our branch of trade has always been in the essential oil business and it continues to be so.” Interestingly, essential oils in this time period were being used much less for personal health concerns and more for food flavoring, drugs, liqueurs, toiletries and cosmetics.


In an effort to combat this greedy practice pharmacy journals would publish specific oils and the proportions of adulterants used in an effort to make pharmacists and other end-users more aware of what to be looking for. However the opposite effect of equipping an unscrupulous producer with the exact knowledge of the craft was a glaring drawback.


The article examined one of these rare manuscripts – a thirty page bound document with fifty-eight formulas for adulterating essential oils and was in use in 1901 and 1902. Twenty different adulterants were noted with oil of turpentine leading the list. In decreasing frequency there was alcohol, oil of Camphor, oil of Cedarwood, oil of Balsam of Gurjon, Castor oil, Black oil, Asphalt Varnish, oil of Birch tar, oil of French Reunion, oil of Geranium, oil of Copaiba, oil of Olivarum, oil of Petit-grain, Carbon Bisulfide, oil of Red Thyme, oil of Sesame, Concentrated Sulfuric Ether, and Carbonate of Iron. An adulterant of 50% or more of the volume was specified in more than half of the formulas. An example was oil of Oregano labeled “pure” contained 17% turpentine and oil of Cedar labeled “commercial” had 90% turpentine.


The article’s Appendix provides examples of the adulteration formulas found in this manuscript. I have selected some that follow.




  • Oil origanum 7 lbs
  • Turpentine 3 gallons
  • Asphalt Varnish 4 drams




  • Oil organum 10 lbs
  • Turpentine 2 lbs




  • French oil of Rose Geranium 2 ounces
  • Oil of Rose, Kissanlick 1 ounce




  • Oil Hyssop 1.75 ounces
  • Alcohol, absolute 0.25 ounces




  • Methyl salicylate 4 lbs
  • Rectified turpentine 1 ounce
  • Oil of Camphor 1 ounce
  • Carbonate of Iron ½ dram


Oil of Turpentine was steam distilled from the crude oleoresin. A V-shaped incision was made in the bark of pine trees in Southern states in the nineteenth century. The sticky resin would flow into collecting pans and then into wooden barrels. From there it was available for sale.




Glenn Sonnedecker, professor emeritus, School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin-Madison. “How to Adulterate Volatile Oils: A Pre-1906 Manuscript Formulary”. Presented to the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy, 1990.


My thanks to Mindy Green, Boulder, Colorado for making this article available at the July 2016 AIA Rocky Mountain Regional meeting.

Diane Tauber, R.N., B.S.N. Tue, 06 Sep 2016 20:48:01 +0000 Retired right now, due to several surgeries and not back to full function and walking. 

Natural Necessities, LLC Mon, 15 Aug 2016 16:51:51 +0000 Continue reading ]]> I work with clients through consultations, to find ways to assist their well-being and daily healthcare with the addition of essential oils. I prepare custom blended aromatherapy products fo their individual needs. I also carry a line of body care products that can be purchased that incorporate aromatherapy. My intent is to form ongoing relationships with my clients, in order to best serve them. I love sharing the benefits of aromatherapy and seeing it help others. 


Aromatherapy is such a big part of my daily life- a Natural Necessity! I can help you make it part of your life too! There are so many physical and emotional issues that can benefit from the proper use of aromatherapy. It’s important to have a relationship with an aromatherapist you feel comfortable about working with and experience ongoing success. I want my clients to always be 100% satisfied with consulting and the products.

Lorraine Ramos, Certified Aromatherapist Mon, 01 Aug 2016 19:33:34 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Prior to becoming an aromatherapist, I worked in the health care setting for 30+ years. I worked one on one with patients, providing therapy as well as education. I also taught classes for patients and for other healthcare workers, as well as home health care. I enjoy working alongside clients to assist with their needs. I believe that each person needs to be an expert on his/her health needs, and should ALWAYS have a say in what their healthcare looks like. knowledge is power. As an aromatherapist, I continue to teach clients about essential oils and the potential role they can play in a holistic approach to their health and wellness.