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: and


2 responses to “Should Aromatherapy education be free?

  1. Who should arbitrate these standards? There is a similar conflict over the user of undiluted essential oils. For example, the ARC will rescind the registration of any therapist who utilizes “raindrop therapy.”

    However, we have the situation where the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork recognizes:

    NAHA aromatherapy training – (example “Aroma Apothecary Healing Arts Academy has been an approved education provider with National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) and the The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) for massage therapy CEU’s since 2002.”


    Raindrop Therapy – “Center for Aromatherapy Research and Education is approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) as a continuing education Approved Provider.”

    If the NCTMB can straddle these two extreme positions, who then should arbitrate internal use issues?

    • That is a good point Phillip. I can tell you that the NCBTMB’s approval of courses/schools that teach Raindrop Therapy has come into question before. Many Aromatherapists have approached them about their approval of what authentic Aromatherapists deem as inappropriate and unsafe use. The White Paper on RDT and the paper on undiluted use written by Sylla Sheppard-Hanger and Tony Burfield have been among the evidence submitted to support the RDT as an unsafe practice and the NCBTMB has been implored to rethink their position. I am sure this will come up time and again until the NCBTMB becomes enlightened and is willing to make a change. As to NAHAs approval of the practice, the above mentioned papers used to be on the NAHA website, but have since been removed. I can’t speak to where NAHA is on the subject now as there have been some changes in administration. It would be a good subject to broach with the current administration of NAHA to see where they stand. In my opinion I believe that the AIA and NAHA should work together to establish a united position on the subject.

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