Monthly Archives: March 2015

Book Review: The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness

book cover.trimmed

by Jennifer Peace Rhind

For some time now, there has been a real need for an up-to-date and comprehensive book about essential oils and aromatherapy that is aimed precisely at the enthusiast rather than the professional. This book not only fulfils this need, but also delivers so much more!

At 480 pages, this is a lengthy read, however the text is organised into four distinct sections that divides the content into manageable chunks, and allows the reader to find information quickly when required. So, it is a both a reliable reference and a practically oriented resource. The content is presented very well indeed; this book is full of accessible information that is delivered at just the right level – it is not ‘preachy’, it is not in any way condescending, and at no time does it assume prior knowledge – and so all the reader needs is curiosity, a love of essential oils, and a desire to incorporate them into their lives. The positive, health-enhancing benefits and safety aspects of the oils are described accurately, backed up by a comprehensive bibliography which contains research papers as well as authoritative aromatherapy texts.

The ‘Introduction’ provides the backdrop – including the origins and characteristics of essential oils, safety issues and ways of using them. In Part 1 ‘The Oils’, we find information about quality, cautions and their therapeutic properties, followed by an A (allspice) to Y (ylang ylang!) of essential oils – individual profiles that give just enough information about the character of the oils to whet the reader’s appetite, and their specific uses and cautions. Hydrolats, carrier oils and butters are also included in this section; and so, the information needed for preparing blends is all in place.

Part 2 is entitled ‘Remedies’, and is organised by conditions, from ‘abrasions’ through to ‘workplace stress’. This is so very comprehensive, no situation that cannot be remedied by the judicious use of aromatics has been omitted, and indeed some unusual conditions have been included, such as ‘water warts’. Lora’s experience and knowledge really shines here – and professionals will certainly learn a lot. She includes an impressive range of blends for wide-ranging conditions and situations, showcasing her considerable understanding of synergy and her excellent ‘nose’. I have absolutely no doubt that practitioners as well as enthusiasts will be preparing these blends and benefitting from them. Also, from the aromatherapist’s perspective, this section will serve to inspire as well as confirm our practice.

Part 3, ‘Aromatherapy for Daily Living’ shows us how to integrate aromatics into our lives, elevating our personal care routines into beautifully aromatic experiences. Here, we learn about essential oils that are particularly suitable for skin, hair and oral care, accompanied by formulae for a wide range of aromatic preparations. Even our home needs are catered for –  hygiene, cleaning and environmental fragrancing for mood enhancement – it is all here. Finally, there is a short section on massage, again aimed at the enthusiast. Part 4 addresses ‘Practicalities’ such as equipment, measurements, percentages, and the storage of essential oils and products. Other useful inclusions are a glossary, and a list of resources – not only for supplies and equipment, but also professional organisations and aromatherapy journals and newsletters.

I am sure that most professional aromatherapists have clients who would like to use essential oils at home, and who have the desire to to understand more about aromatics and aromatherapy. Also, and most importantly, the direct engagement with essential oils, and the blending process, is, in itself, is profoundly therapeutic; it allows us to form a personal relationship with the oils. Here, at last, is a book that professionals can recommend to their clients.

This really is a ‘handbook for everyday wellness’. In the preface to the first edition, the late Nerys Purchon wrote “… each day I feel a deeper love for and gain a greater understanding of these magical essences”. Lora Cantele, in the preface to this second edition expresses her own love of essential oils, saying “I now encourage others to embrace this fragrant way of life. I have found my calling in service to others, as both a healthcare provider and an aromatherapy educator”. Both Lora and Nerys have provided both professionals and enthusiasts with a valuable resource, and have enabled us all to enrich our lives with aromatherapy. Thank you.

The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness by Nerys Purchon and Lora Cantele                         Publisher: Robert Rose Inc.                                                                   Published: September 11, 2014                                                                     ISBN: 978-0-7788-0486-4                                                                           Available at Amazon.com and most book stores

Jennifer Peace Rhind is a Chartered Biologist with a PhD in Mycology. She has worked in quality assurance, research, and development. A long-standing interest in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) led to qualification in massage, Aromatherapy and reflexology. She worked as a therapist and partner in a multidisciplinary complementary healthcare clinic, and as an Aromatherapy tutor. Following this, she was a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University for fourteen years, and remains involved in essential oil and scent education. She is the author of Essential Oils: A Handbook for Aromatherapy Practice, Fragrance and Wellbeing: Plant Aromatics and Their Influence on the Psyche, and A Sensory Journey: Meditations on Scent for Wellbeing all published by Singing Dragon Books.

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Should Aromatherapy education be free?

Dropper With Amber Bottle and Green BackgroundLast week I referred to some viral comments including the belief that Aromatherapy certification is no longer desirable. It seems that with the widespread use of essential oils, many people new to Aromatherapy find it to be a “one-size-fits-all” fix and are more than happy with the “free education” being shared through social media.  Some went so far as to share their unhappiness of certified Aromatherapists claiming that we withhold valuable safety information unless we are paid to provide a consultation. Further, another posted a comment below the image of the  AIA Internal Use Statement  that it would appear that only those of us  who have paid for an obtained a formal education in aromatherapy seem to be the only ones who should be allowed to share information, but suggests that people should be able to obtain this information for free.

In addition, there have been heated debates over the use of undiluted essential oils and internal use sparked by some of this “free education.” Well let’s take a closer look.  Is it “free education” that is being provided or “free propaganda?”  Like it or not, recommendations for essential oil use are prevalent on social media. So much so that the aromatic community has responded in various ways. One organization and a few schools and educators have reached out to one of the larger essential oil multi-level marketing companies in an effort to provide education to their independent distributors.  The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) has created a working group as part of their Botanical Personal Care Products Committee for the sole purpose of determining whether or not AHPA should establish additional guidelines and requirements for the internal use of essential oils. Many Certified Aromatherapists have grown weary with the laborious task of providing cautious, mindful and prudent educational posts on social media in an effort to protect our community and work.

If you or your child had a serious health concern would you go to a doctor or a shoe salesman for answers? Simply put, that is where we are and the standpoint from which we need to educate. I recently spoke at a college here in Colorado where I discussed these concerns with the aromatherapy students. At the end of my talk, I was approached by a student who told me she is having some chest pains since quitting smoking a few days earlier.  She wanted a recommendation for oils to help with her breathing and chest pains. I told her I wasn’t a doctor and she should seek a professional diagnosis.  Once diagnosed, I told her I would be happy to discuss her aromatherapeutic options with her. Her reply? “I thought that is what you’d say.” As a professional, I work within the scope of my practice and education (not to mention my liability insurance). So why is this now viewed as “withholding information without payment” or “becoming jaded with the sharing of ‘free propaganda’ and not respected as simply being responsible and professional? Essential oil use is changing. With all the “free” information being shared (good and bad), how much ‘free education” are you willing to provide in the face of all the “free propaganda” for the sake of your community?

Want more? Check out this link for a great read by my friend, The Untamed Alchemist.

Lora Cantele is a Registered Clinical Aromatherapist through the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC) and a Certified Swiss Reflex Therapy (SRT) practitioner and instructor through its creator, Shirley Price.  Her work as former president of Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) has helped the organization flourish to become a leading voice in advancing an ethical practice of aromatherapy for personal as well as clinical use.  During her tenure at the AIA (2006-2012) she successfully lead the development and implementation of AIA’s aromatherapy educational standards to take the level of aromatherapy education in the USA to new heights.  In 2009 and 2010, she brought her professional expertise to a pilot program aimed at providing a better quality of life to children with life-limiting illnesses including; hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.  As an aromatherapy educator, writer, and international speaker Ms. Cantele continues to unite and inspire her colleagues to speak out about the importance of this work within an integrative health and wellness program. She is the editor/publisher of the peer-reviewed International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy (IJPHA) and the co-author of The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness. Contact: lora.cantele@gmail.com Websites:www.ijpha.com and www.enhancedgifts.com

Titles, and Credentials, and Consumer Confusion…Oh My!

wizard of oz

A wonderful blog post was written in September about something that has been on the mind of many Aromatherapists regarding the titles that we use. This article was written from a personal standpoint as the author was essentially using the post to inform her clients and others as to her own training.  However the post went viral and the author went on to receive many emails from individuals who wrote to criticize elements of the post and to share their own personal viewpoints.  Others, like me responded to address factual errors regarding educational guidelines and the use of one credential in particular. Much to my disappointment, the post was subsequently removed.

I was happy to see this post as I had written one on the very same subject just two weeks earlier. In my post, I addressed the title of “Clinical Aromatherapist.” Many more people are using this term, but there are two way of looking at this title.  One is that it is a representation of the level of education that an individual possesses.  The other is the environment in which a practitioner works. This begs the question, “should we seek more clarity and ask schools granting the title to provide more clarity to the students for its use?”  For example, a graduate may be “Clinically-trained,” but only after experience in working in a clinical environment should they call themselves a “Clinical “Aromatherapist?”  This brings to mind Rhiannon Lewis’s AIA presentation about “Working at the Coal Face” to mind. It’s theory vs. practice. Are we working in the environment that we are trained to work in or are we teaching, writing articles or acting as consultants?  I never posted my blog article. I shared it with a colleague who asked the question “what if I am clinically-trained, not working in a clinical environment and training nurses to use Aromatherapy in a clinical environment?”  Good question.

While there is no regulatory body that oversees the practice or Aromatherapists, there are general guidelines that we learn about in school with which we must adhere to; the Medical Practices Act and massage laws within each state in the U.S., as well observing the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the industry associations we belong to. There are similar considerations in other countries as well. However due to the lack of government regulation, aromatherapy organizations have taken it upon themselves to set standards and guidelines for their members to support and follow in an effort to “self-regulate.” In the early days of the AIA I remember being a part a discussion in which there was a collective desire to review, evaluate and revise such standards and guidelines. The goal was to have the membership accept and support the educational guidelines and standards, and to promote the organization as a leader in the aromatic community. Our secret hope was that by providing these guidelines and a group of professionals working in support, if the U.S. government officials were ever to come knocking, the AIA and its practitioner members would certainly pass any scrutiny, be a model for other groups, and work in tandem with the government. I also recall discussions regarding how far the AIA could and was willing to go.  The AIA is not a “regulatory” body.

So how does this relate back to the topic of “titles” and “credentials” in Aromatherapy? For some time there appeared to be essentially two categories of Aromatherapists; hobbyists that possessed a basic level one (foundation) education and qualified Aromatherapist who possessed a certification (200 hour professional course).  The AIA, with a focus on “moving aromatherapy forward” into more integrative and clinical settings discussed the need for a higher level of learning to accommodate safe and responsible essential oil use in these settings, hence revising the guidelines for Levels 1 and 2, as well as creating the clinical Aromatherapy education guidelines. In doing so, there appears to be an increase in the number of “clinical” Aromatherapists, or is there?

In looking at the “recognized ” or “approved” standards of the aromatherapy education organizations in the U.S., there exists various of levels of education, however the content of that education and how it is evaluated varies between organizations.  For example, one organization considers level one to be a 30 hr course whereas another sets the standard at 100 hr. There is also some misinformation circulating with regard to how the AIAs education guidelines were established and what is contained in those guidelines (which is the subject of another article to come). So with the differences in the guidelines between organizations, not to mention that there are several schools out there that are not on the recognized or approved lists of either organization, there are several social media threads suggesting that possessing a certification is somehow no longer of value.

While there is no government regulatory body overseeing aromatherapy practitioners, I think practitioners can agree that possessing an education in safe and responsible use is of great importance. What seems to be at the heart of these recent discussions are the titles and credentials that practitioners are using to give an impression of their overall education level. One might think that would have been cleared up with the establishment of levels of education (Foundation, Professional, Clinical). In looking back to when I first started in Aromatherapy, if you went to school (200 hr) and earned a certification you became a Certified Aromatherapist (CA). Anything less and you could receive a “certificate of attendance.” If you elected to do so, you went on to take the ARC Exam to become a Registered Aromatherapist (RA). In addition, some schools had their own credential upon graduation, such as the Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Practitioner (CCAP) awarded to graduates of Jane Buckle’s program for healthcare providers. Other schools that applied and met the AIA would have guidelines for clinical level training offered their students the title of “Clinical Aromatherapist.” For me, my school said I could call myself a Clinical Aromatologist as I was trained in various methods of internal use, however it seems that term never really took off. Nowadays there are people calling themselves “Medical Aromatherapist” or a “Certified Clinical Master Aromatherapist” among others.  Some of the titles are created by the schools that offer training and others are created, as some may say, as a marketing ploy to impress upon potential clients that they possess a greater knowledge than perhaps another practitioner.  Regardless of where these terms have come from what they have effectively done is to create consumer confusion and animosity among peers in the aromatic community.

The explosion of this topic has been debated on social media for many months with a common question of who should be responsible for clearing up this mess? The schools?  The Aromatherapy organizations? One trade organization considered taking up this cause as well, but instead has put this back on practitioners to take up with the Aromatherapy organizations they belong to.

So what do you think? Should the aromatherapy organizations (in collaboration) create the titles we use, the qualifications for each, and trademark them for use in their respective countries? In an effort to have all Aromatherapists on the same page, should there be a larger, perhaps global, council that provides the gold standard for education guidelines, Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice, and guidelines for the use of titles and credentials to provide a unified front in Aromatherapy and protection for consumers?  I invite your comments below?

Lora Cantele is a Registered Clinical Aromatherapist through the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC) and a Certified Swiss Reflex Therapy (SRT) practitioner and instructor through its creator, Shirley Price.  Her work as former president of Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) has helped the organization flourish to become a leading voice in advancing an ethical practice of aromatherapy for personal as well as clinical use.  During her tenure at the AIA (2006-2012) she successfully lead the development and implementation of AIA’s aromatherapy educational standards to take the level of aromatherapy education in the USA to new heights.  In 2009 and 2010, she brought her professional expertise to a pilot program aimed at providing a better quality of life to children with life-limiting illnesses including; hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.  As an aromatherapy educator, writer, and international speaker Ms. Cantele continues to unite and inspire her colleagues to speak out about the importance of this work within an integrative health and wellness program. She is the editor/publisher of the peer-reviewed International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy (IJPHA) and the co-author of The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness. Contact: lora.cantele@gmail.com Websites: www.ijpha.com and www.enhancedgifts.com