Category Archives: Integrative Health

Feeling overwhelmed? Eight ways to protect and nourish yourself

by guest author Bevin Clare, MS, RH, CNS, Clinical Herbalist and Nutritionist, Associate Professor Maryland University of Integrated Health

Right now the world seems to be bearing down on all sides with fires, hurricanes, deportation, human rights issues, political tragedies. There is so much to care about, so many ways to give and directions to be pulled in. Many of us feel a dire need to stay afloat ourselves or to fight for those of us who are less privileged. It’s essential to create all of energy and protection we can muster right now.

Here are 8 ways we can tend ourselves to reduce overwhelm and protect ourselves during these stormy times:

1. Touch the Soil (or at least the leaves)

Nature provides us with consistent solace. Take a moment to touch it, smell it, taste it. If you can reach a big immersive forest take the time to do that. If you can reach the overgrown lot in your city block go and pick some wild flowers. Be sure to experience nature with more than one sense. The consistency, tenacity, and peace of plants is a good reminder of strength.

2. Cook up some medicine

Your food can be your medicine, and taking the time to make a healing meal for you and perhaps people you care about can be a wonderful way to self-care. Consider the food which makes you smile and feel whole, one from your lineage or from your favorite menu. Think about what flavors, herbs, vegetables are nourishing to you. A simple bowl of rice and beans can be healing as can a more elaborate meal shared with friends.

3. Connect in a real way

Connect with someone in your community or with someone online, with someone who makes you feel purposeful and valid. New friend or old friend, see if you can get beneath the superficial interactions and develop a connection which can feel nourishing. Your connection can be through service, friendship, professional connections, the grocery store line, or any place you find an opening.

 

4. Take a break

Stop and take a break to breathe, nap, meditate, find a place of stillness. See if you can carve 15 minutes out of your day to find this time but even 2 minutes is better than running constantly ragged. Create a space and try to clear it as much as you can to immerse yourself in a place which allows you to regenerate a bit.

 

5. Play (maybe even get silly)

Do something playful and distracting. If you know some small children they can often be good at encouraging you to be present and playful for a while. Splash, paint, color, pretend, sing, cartwheel, do something which captures your attention and creates space for you to be present in a new way (or one you might have forgotten about).

 

6. Nourish with herbs and teas

Many herbal teas can help modulate your stress response, aide in restful sleep, and provide overall support for the inflammation which can occur in a chronically stressed individual. Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum) is an adaptogen supreme and helps us to feel more energetic and less stressed while minimizing some of the negative effects stress has on our bodies. A simple cup of chamomile tea (Matricaria recutita) can soothe us into deeper sleep or tame anxiety throughout the day, especially helpful if your response to stress involves changes in your digestion. Ashwaganda (Withnia somniferum) changes the way we respond to stress and can also be helpful with sustained anxiety and the effects of poor quality sleep patterns. It’s best taken as a capsule or used in its traditional form boiled in milk.

7. Laugh out loud

Find something funny, anything you know is sure to make you laugh until you run out of breath. Share it if you can find someone with a sense of humor. Those auto-correct lists always seem to tickle my funny bone, but for some of you it’s stand-up comedy or your favorite movie or novel. Laughter changes our bodies in all sorts of good ways and can be a simple way to tend yourself.

8. Make a plan

Some of our overwhelm can be from wanting to help and not knowing where to start. Take the time to make a plan. Figure out what you have to offer (Time? Money? Skills?) and where you can offer them (Local organizations? National non-profits? Friends of friends?) and make a solid plan which is feasible and will not only serve your community but will help with your sense of purpose.

Whatever you do, it’s worth taking the time to take care of yourself so you can be as effective as possible in these times when we need to pull our weight more than ever.

This article appears on her fabulous and informative website www.bevinclare.com and is reprinted with permission.

Bevin Clare, M.S., R.H., CNS, is a clinical herbalist and nutritionist and an Associate Professor and Program Manager of the Post-Master’s Certificate in Clinical Herbalism at the Maryland University of Integrative Health. She holds a MSc in Infectious Disease from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, serves on as an adjunct Assistant Professor at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the New York Chiropractic College. Bevin has studied herbal medicine around the world and blends her knowledge of traditional uses of plants with modern science and contemporary healthcare strategies as a consultant and educator. Bevin is the president of the American Herbalists Guild, the largest body of professional clinical herbalists in the US.  She is founder of the Herbal Clinic for All program, providing cost-free herbal medicine healthcare since 2007 and is a board member of the United Plant Savers, a group working to protect at-risk medicinal plants in North America. You can find Bevin’s musing on a variety of Clinical Herbalism topics, including infectious disease, at www.bevinclare.com. She resides on a beautiful piece of earth in Maryland with her family.
 

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A Path to Aromatherapy Credentialing: General Evaluation of the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Judy Klispie, MS, EdS

Introduction  

The use of essential oils by the general public has substantially increased in the past few years. With the plethora of Facebook (FB) pages, websites and blogs devoted to essential oil use, safety, and chemistry, the public is becoming inundated with a mixed bag of information that can be confusing, possibly dangerous, and inaccurate.  Those that are trained in Aromatherapy have become concerned with several issues surrounding the information that is being disseminated throughout the internet, school course work, and within the essential oil Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) companies. In the many social medium forums where Aromatherapists discuss and share their concerns, one issue is common: many essential oil users believe that if they read a bit about essential oils or they belong to a MLM company, they are then qualified to tell others how to use them. This situation has become somewhat of a threat to the overall aromatherapy practice because it puts the public at risk with unsafe usage recommendations and devalues the qualifications and years of experience of trained Aromatherapists. With this alarming situation, Aromatherapists have begun to question what can be done regarding this situation.

One of the potential solutions is the standardized certification or credentialing of aromatherapy students who have achieved a minimum amount of training hours from specific types of trainings, workshops, and schools. According to Professional Testing Corporation (PTC) and Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE, NCCA), standardized certification is a part of a process called credentialing. It focuses on the individual’s knowledge, skills and attributes (KSA’s) in a specialized field of practice (see also). Becoming credentialed is usually met by taking a formalized valid and reliable assessment. In general terms, for an assessment to be reliable, it must be a tool that produces stable and constant results while the validity of an assessment refers to how well the test measures what it is supposed to measure (Creswell, 2014; Gall, Gall, Borg, 2007). There are many ways to assess one’s knowledge and can include one or more delivery methods, such as, a valid and reliable multiple choice test, oral testing, case studies, and portfolios.

Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC) Beginnings

Although standardized credentialing for Aromatherapists is not available at a state or national level, there is currently a professional Registration Exam available to Aromatherapists, through the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC). The aromatherapy community felt there needed to be an entity that gave credence to the schooling that Aromatherapists completed so in 1998, the ARC was created. The pioneers that started the ARC felt that:

Neither schools nor membership organizations can issue professional certification or registration examinations with credibility. Independence from membership organizations ensures an impartial and unbiased body distinct from a body where members pay to belong, which is essential for objectivity and credibility from both within and without the industry” (www.aromatherapycouncil.org).

With this belief in mind, the ARC creators felt that the aromatherapy community needed to be self-regulated and an advocate for safe use of essential oils. They also contended that there needed to be one body of knowledge for the assessment to demonstrate the general knowledge, skills, and attributes (KSA’s) required for an Aromatherapist. This body of knowledge was developed by the pioneers in the aromatherapy community at the time of the creation of the ARC with test items created and are currently reviewed annually. The Registered Aromatherapist (RA™) exam uses the most important information needed to assess an Aromatherapist’s KSA’s. Aromatherapists who have completed 200 hours or more of training can take this test to demonstrate their understanding of a common body of knowledge. Upon successful passing of the exam Aromatherapists are entered into a National Registry. Although the RA™ is a registry and not a credential, it is currently the closest offering to a credential or certification the aromatherapy community has.

Although the aromatherapy community has the RA™ exam available, they seem to have great concern that the ARC is not meeting the needs of Aromatherapists because, (1). The aromatherapy community generally believes that the test items do not reflect the current trends in Aromatherapy; (2). The test does not assess accurate chemistry knowledge; (3). ARC does not have a large and diverse governing council; (4). ARC does not have open communication with the aromatherapy community; (5). ARC is perceived to be aligned with a specific college that offers aromatherapy programs amongst other certificate, diplomas and degrees.

The ARC and Registered Aromatherapists (RA™) Exam

This author’s general evaluation of the ARC began with the above concerns in mind. The goal was to explore what the ARC offers and the specifics of the RA™ exam.  According to the ARC:

the goal of ARC has been constant since the nonprofit was established: to provide an unbiased, voluntary, standardized, independent test which is maintained and administered by the PTC to test aromatherapy concepts and knowledge with a focus on safety standards required for the professional practice of aromatherapy, in order to ensure public safety (www.aromatherapycouncil.org).

The ARC exam creation, item review, and process of administering is clearly discussed on the ARC website. The test is composed of multiple choice questions that have been submitted directly to PTC by aromatherapy educators, schools, colleges, RA’s, and industry members. In addition, as a school’s curriculum changes and new knowledge is added to the aromatherapy practice, test questions can be sent to PTC to be added to the test bank.  ARC follows the PTC’s rigorous procedures and processes in order to “ensure fair, valid, and reliable examinations that reflect current best practice of the aromatherapy profession…” The test items go through many series of review by subject experts and PTC test development specialists at least annually. The areas tested are listed in the ARC’s content outline. Further, “exam items reflect current best practices, and item writers are asked to provide at least two professional references for all multiple-choice questions. Once submitted, all new items… go through editing and psychometric review by PTC.”

The testing protocol that ARC has created gives the aromatherapy community a reliable, valid, and fair assessment tool that can assess Aromatherapists knowledge base of best practices. Based on their test review practices, discussed both on their website and on PTC’s website, it is erroneous to believe that the test items are outdated, inaccurate, and have never been updated. The PTC and ARC requires a minimum of annual review of the current test items in the bank and of newly submitted items.  A review of test items is an arduous and lengthy process and must be done sequestered and confidentially, to ensure test security. ARC accepts test items from RA’s and the practicing aromatherapy community. There is a protocol to submit to PTC and it can be reviewed on their website. However, if test items are sent directly to any ARC board member in any other method, they become invalid and cannot be used.

Discussion                                                                     There has been discussion in the aromatherapy community about the ARC and its current relevancy to the profession. The perceptions of ARC’s connections to a specific school college, conflict of interests, and the test being outdated due to new trends in the profession are perceptions that are not true, and are being perpetuated among the aromatherapy community with or without any valid basis. Indeed, one of the purposes of this paper was to discuss the ARC as a council and their procedures regarding the testing as being outdated. Some of the information gathered for this paper brought to light not only the testing information, but also gave insight to the allegations of conflict of interest and connections to a specific school.

This author emailed the ARC to ensure that the general information gained from their website was accurate. The response from the directors was timely, courteous, and informative, and pointed out a few small inaccuracies and then were corrected by the author. Although the IRS annual files for not-for-profit organizations are public record and detailed files can be requested through IRS channels. this author specifically requested documentation from ARC that would show the financial and contractual obligations of the Council. The purpose was to attempt to ascertain the social media discussions of ARC’s connection with any school, or other organization.  After consulting with ARC legal staff, four (4) documents were sent to the author for viewing: 1. PTC contract; 2. Admin Contract; 3. Annual ARC Balance Sheet; and 4. Annual Profit and Loss sheet. Also included in this email was a statement (see appendix, pg. 1) for this paper that was approved by their legal counsel (aromatherapy council, personal communication, July, 13, 2017).

Based on the documents provided to this author and the information on ARC website, there is no evidence found that: 1. the test is outdated, invalid, unreliable and unfair; and 2. The organization is connected financially to any other organization other than PTC. This does not mean that there are not potential issues that could and should be addressed, but the scope of this paper was limited to only what was visible to this author through their website, general social media, and the communications from the ARC. One of the comments from ARC legal counsel in email communication was pertinent to the current discussions that are ongoing on social media:

it is almost impossible to wage a campaign on social media and “win.”  From the safety of their computer screen, people are always more willing to be inappropriate, assert claims, and “fight.”  And it seems that there is always a new social media site to have to consider, whether it is facebook, Instagram, twitter, or what have you.  Further, it is easier to say the wrong thing on social media, because generally people are responding off the cuff, not in a professional setting or with appropriate consideration of legal implications. Accordingly, I recommend that the organization’s board members simply refer to its published, official responses when responding to assertions on social media, or do not respond at all (aromatherapycouncil, personal communication, July 13, 2017)

It seems as if the perceptions of the aromatherapy community is that it does not support the RA™ exam as a valid, reliable, and fair assessment of an Aromatherapist’s KSA’s. According to the ARC website, there are over 400 RA’s throughout the world, with 130 from the USA. With only a little over 100 RA’s in the USA and the level of discussion observed on FB and other social media, the aromatherapy community does not support the ARC and its mission, or there would be more RA’s. It is necessary to examine why that may be, especially if the aromatherapy community would like a standardized credential for the profession. There may be other barriers not included in the scope of this paper that should be explored, such as cost of the exam, continuing education costs for renewal, the requirements of the various schools 200 hour curriculum, and others. The aromatherapy community’s “buy-in” is critical. With “buy-in”, the RA™ becomes an important aspect of professional aromatherapy and if the ARC can move to accreditation, it will then become a valuable credential in the eyes of the public.  It is paramount that the aromatherapy community would need to embrace the ARC and assist in promoting the RA™ exam, its goal to become an accredited credential, and its mission of professional self-regulation.

The RA™ exam is a valid, reliable, and fair assessment of the KSA’s and general body of knowledge of an Aromatherapist who has had training in a 200-hour program or training that meet the content outline of ARC. ARC has a goal of having their test become accredited through an accreditation agency. If ARC were to attain accreditation, their RA™ exam would become an accredited credential. Currently, the exam meets the criteria required to apply for accreditation, according the ICE/NCCA check list of standards (www.credentialingexcellence.org). One major challenge to becoming accredited is that the self-assessment process is in-depth, detailed, and costly. This process would require many hours of volunteer teamwork. The ARC may not have the volunteer person-power and or the funds to begin this process, at this time.

Regarding the discussions surrounding the aromatherapy community wanting to have some type of regulation, the ARC began with becoming self-regulating in mind. They state on their website:

The ARC voluntary exam emphasizes an Aromatherapist’s knowledge of public safety issues and promotes the interests of the entire professional aromatherapy community by illustrating to regulatory bodies that the aromatherapy industry is sufficiently mature to self-regulate, and does not need to be regulated from outside or above.

With a history of the aromatherapy community desiring self-regulation, working with the ARC may be the path to follow because (1). It has already been created and has policies and procedures in place; (2). The RA™ exam is valid, reliable, and fair; and (3). Meets the checklist of standards for the NCCA self-study to become an accredited credential. With the support of the community, this will lead to a stronger public stakeholder acceptance of professional skills and knowledge.

According to this author’s general evaluation of the ARC’s procedures, practices, and protocols, the RA™ exam is a valid, reliable, and fair assessment of an Aromatherapist’s knowledge and best practices based on a 200-hour training course. In addition, according to the ICE/NCCA preliminary checklist, this exam could very well meet the credential accreditation standards after undergoing a rigorous self-study which would cement the exam as a credential.

essential oils on the scientific sheet with medicinal herbs

The aromatherapy community desires to have a credential that validates an Aromatherapist’s KSA’s and general body of knowledge that will set them apart from those with little to no education. This author suggests that it is already here, although not a credential, the RA™ exam is currently the national test that can show stakeholders and clients an Aromatherapist’s competence of 200 hours of education. It is far from perfect and there are many more questions that will arise with further discussion, but it is what is available now and the groundwork has been laid for it to become better. Resources and manpower would need to come from the aromatherapy community, funding would come from fund raising, grants, or other funding streams. With more help for the ARC, it follows that there could be great strides in moving forward to the goal of a professional credential, which is what the aromatherapy community desires.

Going forward, there are many questions that need to asked. To begin the discussion, these are some of the questions that could be explored as a start:

  1. How can the Council expand to become more diverse in scope?
  2. What level of transparency and efforts of communication does the ARC need to provide the aromatherapy community in order to gain support?
  3. What is needed from the ARC for the aromatherapy community to begin to advance the importance of becoming an RA? And how can the need for marketing the importance and value of the exam in the U.S. be addressed?
  4. Does the level of testing needed to assess the KSA’s and body of knowledge meet the new trends and best practices of aromatherapy? And, how can the aromatherapy community be ensured that is the case without jeopardizing test integrity/security?
  5. Is there is a need for more than one test for the future, for instance, a level 1 test for 200 hours of education, a level 2 test for more advanced hours of education, other types of assessments, such as portfolio, case studies?
  6. How can the aromatherapy community assist with a future accreditation process?
  7. What are other barriers that would prevent Aromatherapists testing and what is needed to overcome them?                                                                                                                        

References

Aromatherapy Registration Council (n.d.). Available: http://www.aromatherapycouncil.org. Last accessed 13 August 2017.

Creswell J W. (2014). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, 4th ed. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications.

Gall M, Gall G, Borg W. (2007). Educational Research, 8th ed. Boston, MA.: Pearson

Institute for Credentialing Excellence (nd). Available:  www.credentialingexcellence.org/p/cm/ld/fid=1. Last accessed 13 August 2017.

Professional Testing Corporation (nd). Available: www.ptcny.com. Last accessed 13 August 2017.

Appendix                                                                                                                         The Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC) was established in 1999, by vote of the Steering Committee for Education Standards in Aromatherapy in the United States.  It is an Oregon public benefit nonprofit corporation, which has been recognized by the IRS to be exempt from tax as a 501(c)(6) organization.   ARC is in compliance with all requirements for this exempt status, which ensure that it is not being administered for the benefit of private individuals.  ARC’s financials are reflected on its annual information return filings on Form 990-N, which may be viewed here:

ARC is not affiliated with any specific school, though individual volunteer board members do have regular employment, which may include (but is not limited to) working for schools, hospitals, aromatherapy organizations, or other organizations in some way related to aromatherapy.  The goal of ARC has been constant since the nonprofit was established: to provide an unbiased, voluntary, standardized, independent test, which is maintained and operated by the Professional Testing Company (PTC), to test aromatherapy concepts and knowledge with a focus on safety standards required for the professional practice of aromatherapy, in order to ensure public safety.  Neither schools nor membership organizations can issue professional certification or registration examinations with credibility. ARC’s independence from membership organizations and any particular school ensures an impartial and unbiased body distinct from a body where members pay to belong, which is essential for objectivity and credibility from both within and without the industry. (aromatherapycouncil, email communication, July 13, 2017).

Judy Klispie–Aromatic Harmony, LLC

jklispie@gmail.com

The AIA Aims to Shed Light on Growing Concerns Regarding Essential Oils

A recent market report indicates favorable shifts in consumer demand and market expansion have helped the Essential Oil Manufacturing industry thrive in the current five-year period (IBIS World, 2016).

Market share concentration in this industry is low; no company accounts for more than 5.0% of industry revenue in 2016. Furthermore, IBIS World estimates that the top four players account for less than 10.0% of revenue in 2016. The level of concentration has been slowly rising over the past five years as network marketing companies continue to establish their brand names and thereby increase their market share. Although market share concentration has been slightly rising over the past five years, the level of concentration is expected to remain low over the long-term. A moderate level of barriers to entry will allow new companies to enter the market to take advantage of the rising revenue over the next five years.  The report’s analysts forecast the global essential oil market to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.26% during the period 2016-2020.

With the increase an increase in the demand for essential oils, we are seeing more adulteration in essential oils-even in those that are relatively abundant and easily produced. What does this mean for authentic practitioners of Aromatherapy and Aromatic Medicine?

With the theme, Out of the Bottle and Into the Garden: Traditional Herbalism to Aromatic Medicine, the Alliance of International Aromatherapists International Conference aims to explore the use of various plant preparations while emphasizing the importance of the plants from which we obtain our precious oils. Lectures will feature experts from around the world discussing sustainability, ethics and professionalism while growing your business. The importance of how essential oil demand  is impacting the availability of our oils will be highlighted with attention to other types of plant medicine that can be used to provide complementary care in practice.

With the growing interest in Aromatic Medicine and questions regarding our ability to practice Aromatic Medicine and specific protocols that incorporate internal use of oils, we will feature two special lectures on Aromatic Medicine and protecting your business from government intrusion.

This August the Alliance of International Aromatherapists, in partnership with the Rutgers University Plant Biology Department (New Brunswick, NJ), will bring together 300-400 of the world’s top Aromatherapy leaders, practitioners, educators, research scientists, integrative health practitioners and entrepreneurs. Business development, thought-provoking content and endless networking opportunities are tied together by engaging and inspiring speakers, trade exhibits, and pre-conference workshops, and social events about the future of the Aromatic plant community, innovation, marketing, communication and imagination.

Registration is open and information about the schedule, speakers, pre-conference workshops, hotel and transportation are all online at www.aromatherapyconference.com.

 

Advancing Clinical Aromatherapy Education in Women’s Health

pam-conradPam Conrad Discusses Her New Evidence-Based Program

Interview by Leslie Moldenauer CHNC, HHP, Cert. Aroma

Pam Conrad, PGd, BSN, RN, CCAP, earned her Bachelor of Science Nursing degree from Purdue University and has been a registered nurse for over 25 years. Pam completed R J Buckle and Associates 18-month Clinical Aromatherapy course for healthcare professionals in 2000. Pam’s focus in Aromatherapy has always been integrative; combining time-honored nursing and clinical Aromatherapy.

Upon completion of Dr. Buckle’s course, her family moved to England for two years where she studied advanced Aromatherapy with nurses and midwives, and completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Complementary Studies at the University of Westminster Graduate School of Integrated Health, in London. This is where Pam met Denise Tiran and Ethel Burns–two of her mentors–who both specialize in Aromatherapy and pregnancy/childbirth and postpartum. Pam became Ms. Tiran’s first international intern and was able to learn first-hand how to integrate complementary Aromatherapy alongside her traditional practice.

In 2008, Pam taught a group of 12 obstetrics (OB) nurses evidence-based clinical Aromatherapy and developed the first hospital OB Aromatherapy program in the United States (Burns et al., 2000 and 2007).  Since that time, multiple hospitals in Indiana (and now Santiago, Chile) have completed this course and developed clinical programs.

Pam currently has the only evidenced-based women’s health/ maternity/clinical Aromatherapy course in the United States that is approved by the American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA).

LM: Pam, let’s talk a bit more about your evidence-based program being taught here in America. This is a substantial advancement for the industry. What makes your course unique? What is your course offering to potential students?

PC: Historically, the class has been nurses and nurse midwives. The program has recently extended to teach certified doulas as well as certified Aromatherapists. The International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy will be hosting the first class that includes certified Aromatherapists in February 2017.

The course is focused on labor, childbirth and postpartum. As new clinical evidence emerges, the course content is revised with Aromatherapy interventions for the nine months of pregnancy.

The program takes a clinical approach, which stands out from what is currently being taught in the United States. There are many factors that come into play when making a clinical decision with a patient, not just looking at the chemistry of a particular essential oil. We teach everyone how to analyze the person standing in front of them, looking at their medical history, medications, and to discern how they have responded to different therapies over the course of their lives. Some people react paradoxically to a therapy or an essential oil, this is taken into consideration as well. The clinical judgment and knowledge along with the property of the oils backed by evidence-based research is the basis of how the students are taught.

Another aspect that is covered in great detail is knowing how to decide which women are good candidates for Aromatherapy and which ones are not. We look at possible issues surrounding the neonate, so we teach what should be done for the mom with the baby as well as separate of the baby, in other words without baby present in the room.

In taking this well-rounded and evidence-based clinical approach, I believe that the program is incredibly unique, and very important to the community at large.

LM: Pregnancy and childbirth has until very recently carried with it a stigma, viewing it as a medical condition, rather than a natural and beautiful part of life. Can you talk briefly about how Aromatherapy is being used to facilitate the birthing process?

PC: Pregnancy, labor and childbirth are a beautiful and natural process for the female body. In normal healthy pregnancies, our bodies are well designed to adjust the many functions of our bodies as well as accommodate the growth and development of a fetus. Healthy nutrition, rest, and regular exercise can accomplish this task. At times women do become so uncomfortable with nausea, ingestion, stress, and aches and pains that Aromatherapy is a good choice. Occasional, very dilute and select essential oils used externally; i.e. Lemon (Citrus limon), Lavender (Lavandula angustofolia), and Red Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) have been very effective in our programs.

Unlike what seems like a popular notion, there is no need to help start the labor process. Utilizing Clary sage (Salvia sclerea) for example, is being overused with the idea that a therapist or a nurse can get labor started. This area needs to be understood more fully. If the mother is already in labor, there is no need to increase the contractions. This actually causes what is called hyper-contractions from uterine hyperstimulation (a potential complication of labor induction). This could create a risk for the mother or baby, especially if there are conditions such as cord around the babies neck, placenta previa1 or abrupto.2

The overall goal is to make the mother more comfortable. The more relaxed and comfortable she is, the more likely that natural labor is going to progress, as it should.

LM: Lavender was at one time considered an emmenagogue (uterine stimulant) and was considered contraindicated during pregnancy. In his book, Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Ed., Robert Tisserand dismissed this as a myth as he found no credible research to support that. Recently there has been some debate over this topic. Where do you currently stand on the issue?

PC: There have been some changes recently as far as opinions surrounding Lavender. The experts that I refer to are the clinical experts. When it comes to Aromatherapy, we all find a place to work from that we feel most comfortable, based on our own professional background. Being in the medical field for decades, I focus on the clinical experts and the evidence base, as well as our patient responses. Since beginning our program, we have collected patient data from over 1500 OB hospital interventions.

Historically, the agreement between Ethel Burns and Denise Tiran has been no topical application of Lavender until after the 24th week of pregnancy. The percentage for an acceptable essential oil during pregnancy is 0.5-1%. Once term labor begins this can be increased to 2%. This is a fraction of the dilution that you may have seen recommended often times in the industry.

In a clinical setting, when working with someone who has previous medical conditions or any other red flags; i.e. past miscarriages, in vitro fertilization (IVF),  multiples (twins, triplets,etc.) various blood lab abnormalities, high or low blood pressure, and swelling, the decision to be more conservative with Aromatherapy is recommended. For someone with no red flags, a decision may be made to use Lavender at the dilutions mentioned above before the 24-week mark. At that point, the only Lavender that would be used is Lavandula angustifolia, as ketones are a concern with other varieties of Lavender. If the soon-to-be-mother is going through such a high level of stress that it is insurmountable and puts a risk on the pregnancy and she needs help, Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) may be used.

As long as the mother is not allergic to or dislikes Lavender, it can be used throughout labor and postpartum for anxiety and pain. Red Mandarin is also very helpful for anxiety, indigestion, and nausea and is emotionally uplifting.

As a nurse for many years, the clinical perspective, patient care experience and evidence base all play a part in my practice and courses.

LM:  I would like to talk a little bit about your 2012 study conducted with Cindy Adams, “The effects of clinical Aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in the high risk postpartum woman.” Can you tell us a little bit about that clinical study?

The aim of the study was to determine if Aromatherapy is effective at improving anxiety and depression in women at high risk of postpartum depression. It was a study that included 28 women who were all 0-18 months postpartum. The treatment groups were randomized to either inhalation or the Aromatherapy ‘M’ Technique. The treatment consisted of 15 min sessions, twice per week for four consecutive week using a 2% blend of Rose (Rosa damascena) otto and Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia). The non-randomized group avoided all Aromatherapy during this same time period. Allopathic treatment continued for all of the participants.

All subjects completed the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale (GAD-7) at the beginning of the study. The scales were then repeated at the midway point (two weeks), and at the end of all treatments (four weeks).

No significant differences were found between Aromatherapy and control groups at baseline. However, the midpoint and final scores indicated that Aromatherapy had significant improvements greater than the control group on both EPDS and GAD-7 scores. No adverse effects were reported.

The study shows that Aromatherapy is very effective and safe as a complementary therapy in both anxiety and depression with postpartum women.

LM: What do you hope to see for the future of Aromatherapy? What other areas of support for women are you hoping to target in the near future?

Where I see the greatest importance for Aromatherapy during this passage of life is during the post-partum phase and early motherhood. The ability to identify a mom who is at risk for post-partum depression (PPD) is crucial. We can work with them to using Aromatherapy and other complementary therapies to help avoid PPD. We demonstrated the empowering use of the essential oil on mothers and their children in our published pilot study (Conrad and Adams, 2012).

The time during pregnancy and labor is the perfect time to teach a woman how to properly take care of herself during the post-partum period and beyond. When we are able to work as a team, thereby giving us nine months to provide the education to the mom as a complement to their care, greatly increases their quality of life. A mom can then to go to Aromatherapy first, rather than medical treatments, after birth. The postpartum period involves the mother navigating through a myriad of changes, both emotionally and physically. Aromatic complementary therapies can be a perfect stand alone support during the postpartum period for some women. In others, when medication is indicated, it can further support the mother physically and emotionally to improve her quality of life in early motherhood.

The IJPHA is proud to present Pam’s course in Women’s Health for Aromatherapists, nurses, nurse Aromatherapists, midwives, and doulas February 4-5, 2017 in Boulder, Colorado. For information about this program and to register, visit the IJPHA website at http://www.ijpha.com.

[1] Placenta previa is a problem of pregnancy in which the placenta grows in the lowest part of the womb (uterus) and covers all or part of the opening to the cervix.

[2] Placenta abrupto is when the placenta detaches from the wall of the womb (uterus) before delivery.

References

Burns E et al.. (2000). An investigation into the use of Aromatherapy in intrapartum midwifery practice. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 6 (2), p141-147.

Burns E, Zobbi V, Panzeri D, Oskrochi R, Regalia A. (2007). Aromatherapy in childbirth: a pilot randomised controlled trial. BJOG. 114 (7), p838-844.

Conrad P and Adams C. (2012). The effects of clinical Aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in the high risk postpartum woman-A pilot study. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 18 (3), 164-168.

Leslie Moldenauer has been studying natural living and holistic wellness for over 10 years. She is the owner of Lifeholistically.com, a trusted resource that covers essential oil safety and encompasses all that natural living has to offer. Leslie is passionate about providing education and tools to help others make decisions regarding safety above all things when utilizing aromatherapy in the home. Leslie earned her degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) at the American College of Healthcare Sciences in Portland, Oregon. She is currently earning an advanced diploma in Aromatic Medicine with Mark Webb (Australia), and has trained with Aromatherapy researcher and educator Robert Tisserand.

CO2 Extracts for Aromatherapeutic Use

 

CO2extracts

Image: naturalwisdom.co.uk

What are CO2s?

Aromatics produced via carbon dioxide extraction (CO2 extracts) have been around and in use for the past 15-20 years. While some, like German Chamomile and Calendula have become commonplace within the aromatherapy world, there are still many CO2 Extracts with little to no information available.

CO2 extracts are oils similar to distilled essential oils that can be used in Aromatherapy and Aromatic Medicine. They can be more subtle in fragrance and perhaps a little stronger in flavor as compared to essential oils. CO2 extracts have a different chemistry than their essential oil counterparts making them more suitable in a variety of aromatherapeutic preparations. CO2 extracts have the taste and aroma closer to that of the fresh plant, are more shelf stable and cost effective.

CO2 extracts are produced by using carbon dioxide under high pressure (solvent) to extract the aromatic compounds. Subcritical carbon dioxide processing carefully extracts only the aromatic compounds (Select CO2) while Supercritical carbon dioxide processing extracts the aromatic compounds, as well as the heavier non-volatile molecules like colors, resins and waxes (Total CO2). The process is done at low temperatures (just above room temperature) so it does not alter the extracted compounds. The process is efficient and yields little waste.

CO2 extraction technology video – YouTube © Nisgara Biotech 2014

Supercritical CO2 is used as a solvent to extract lipophilic compounds from natural herbs. These extracts are concentrated as high as 250 times as compared to the raw herb. Thus a small quantity in any product is enough, leading to cost effectiveness as compared to other products from different extraction techniques. This technology is environment friendly with minimum carbon footprint and CO2 is recycled as much as 95% in the system.

Visit http://www.nisargabiotech.com for more information.

Want to learn more?

The International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy (IJPHA) is hosting a 2-day seminar entitled CO2 Extracts: The How, What, When, Where and Why in Aromatic Therapies with Mark Webb, B.Sc. in Boulder, Colorado October 15-16, 2016. Participants will earn 12 CPDs (continuing professional development credits).

mark webb 2Mark Webb holds a B.Sc. Degree in Biochemistry and Plant Physiology and Biology from Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. He is an associate member of the International Aromatherapy and Aromatic Medicine Association (IAAMA), and a member of the Australian Society of Cosmetic Chemists (ASCC).  Mark has over a decade of experience formulating with CO2 extracts. Making him well placed to discuss their uses within the fields of cosmeceutical and aromatic therapies applications. His knowledge about how to incorporate these extracts in food and beverages for both therapeutic and non-therapeutic use enables him to provide a broad range of practical and day to day examples. If you have been curious about using CO2 extracts, this is the workshop to answer your questions

In this 2-day workshop, Mark will delve deeply into the world of CO2 Extracts, looking firstly at the production technology and how this effects the end product. He will compare and contrast a range of volatile and non-volatile, Select and Total CO2 extracts with their essential and fixed oil counterparts and oleoresins, discussing safe and effective usage within topical and internal formulations.

Learner outcomes include:

  • An overview of what CO2 extracts are & how they compare to essential and expressed oils, absolutes and oleoresins.
  • A detailed look at of how CO2 extracts are made and the differences between Select, Total, volatile and non-volatile extracts.
  • Comparing and contrasting the chemistry of CO2 extracts to other aromatics; such as essential oils.
  • Discussing the various applications of CO2 extracts across a variety of dose forms and application techniques.
  • Safe use and handling of CO2 extracts, recognizing which extracts to watch for and the importance of dilution within formulating.

Webb.4For more information about this class and to register, visit our website at http://www.ijpha.com.

 

What is Swiss Reflex Therapy and How Can It Enhance My Practice?

smalll foot massageMy goal is to inspire you to take your practice to the next level by sharing with you how you can enhance your Aromatherapy practice with this useful tool and set yourself apart from other practitioners.  Massage and reflexology require the practitioner to undertake additional years of education and requires licensure. Swiss Reflex Therapy (SRT) can be learned in a weekend and can be performed within the exemption of massage laws.  In addition, SRT offers the practitioner a diagnostic tool to assess a client’s health needs, enhances the therapeutic relationship, provides a treatment, and encourages your client to be more proactive in their own care.

As an Aromatherapist, I felt as though I was a bit limited in my practice.  After graduation I hung out my “shingle” and was a little surprised that I didn’t have more people knocking on my door.  I was disappointed that potential clients would prefer to see a massage therapist than an Aromatherapist.  Perhaps it was because a client knew what to expect when making an appointment with a massage therapist.  Of course people really enjoy a massage and its healing touch.  I later noticed that massage therapists were popping up on every corner. In order to compete with each other, they had to somehow offer something different to set themselves apart, so they started offering “Aromatherapy massage” using essential oils in their massage oils and lotions.  This made it more difficult. Not only was the general public more familiar with what a massage therapist does they were now offering an Aromatherapy enhancement which made it harder to compete. Worse yet, many of the massage therapists possessed no training in safe and responsible use of these therapeutic essential oils.

Swiss Reflex Therapy (SRT) is the perfect enhancement specific to Aromatherapy practitioners by offering additional value to the therapeutic relationship between you and your client.  As Aromatherapists, we are not allowed to diagnose, treat or perform invasive procedures, unless we possess another license that allows for that. However, many practicing Aromatherapists use reflex points for diagnostic purposes.  Those who want to practice Reflexology as a treatment in its own right have to do further training, however Swiss Reflex Therapy (SRT) is an excellent alternative to the original practice of Reflexology.  SRT provides a means to assess, care for and encourage a client to take charge of their health and well being.  In the United States, many states have an exemption written into their massage laws that allows for the “manipulation of the soft tissues of the hands, feet and ears.”  This will allow a Swiss Reflex Therapist to practice SRT without securing an additional license in massage or reflexology.  Please check with your state’s Department of Health (Medical Practices Act) and/or massage licensing board to learn what your state’s requirements are.

I first learned about Swiss Reflex Therapy when I was on a course in France while studying with the American College of Healthcare Sciences in 2004.  Our guest lecturers for the week were Len and Shirley Price. Swiss Reflex Therapy is a specialized technique developed by Shirley Price while she was in Switzerland in 1987.  During this course, Shirley presented a “taster” lecture and demo of SRT. Shirley, being a qualified reflexologist as well as Aromatherapist, wanted to develop a treatment using essential oils and massage that would benefit clients in a non-invasive way.  She wanted to find a way of helping people to help themselves, using the reflexes every day, which would be easy for people to do on themselves (or each other) and which, if done conscientiously every day, would give faster results (and be less costly) than a weekly reflexology treatment.  SRT is a specific reflex massage technique that treats each area or body system to bring about balance and the health of the client.  SRT has become a proven successful treatment that brings relief from stress, aches and pains and other common problems, including frozen shoulder and constipation.

A little history of me and SRT                                                                     After attending the “taster” lecture and demo in France, there were many of us on the course that wanted to learn SRT so we could incorporate it into our practice. Shirley and I stayed in touch after the course and I invited her to come to the US to teach the course to those who wanted to learn it after attending the in France, as well as open it up to other certified Aromatherapists who were interested in learning a new modality.  So she agreed and we held the course in Delaware in 2005.  After attending the practical course that weekend, the participants were required to perform SRT and submit case studies in which the clients are seen two to three times each.  Upon review of the case studies, the student may be become a Certified Swiss Reflex Therapist. Following that event, Shirley offered me a position with her daughter’s school in England (the Penny Price Academy of Aromatherapy).  In accepting the position, I had to go through a process to become a board certified instructor by the Academy which included teaching SRT to their students. As it stands now, there are only three certified Swiss Reflex Therapists in the US and I am the only certified instructor in the US.

The Penny Price Academy and its former instructors offer training in Swiss Reflex Therapy.  SRT is practiced in the UK, Ireland and many parts of Europe and Asia, with more instructors teaching in other parts of the world.  Shirley Price first wrote about SRT in her book Practical Aromatherapy and later provided case studies in the editions of Aromatherapy for Health Professionals. She has a new book due out next summer on Swiss Reflex Therapy that contains more case studies and detailed information of the technique and how to perform it.

A word about Reflexology                                                                           Most people are familiar with reflexology. In our Western medical books, nine body systems are discussed and their function can be logically worked out and proven.In Eastern medicine, these systems have been used for hundreds of years to dia-gnose and treat the known body systems and their related organs. The ‘meridian lines system’ used in acupuncture and acu-pressure is one example and the ‘zones system’ in pressure point therapy or Reflexology is another. Reflexology is one of the few therapies that brings relief through remote application.

Reflexology is a speedy and accurate method of client assessment that provides treatment of disorders by natural means.  It is useful as a preventative for disease and can relax the whole body and mind making it invaluable as a release from stress, which is the underlying cause of 80% of all ‘dis-ease.

When pressure is applied to reflex points, this brings about relaxation and helps to normalize body conditions. These points are easiest to find in the feet, although they are also found in the hands and the ears. These reflex points can only indicate the probable organs where there may be some disorder – not what the disorder might be. Reflexology and SRT are not a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment, however they can be extremely helpful and do not have any side effects when performed correctly.

Each organ and muscle in the body is connected, without crossing the spinal cord, by an energy pathway to a point in the foot (or hand, ear etc).  The most fascinating thing is that these reflex points come to the surface in exactly the same position in which they are found in the body, and are most easily located on the soles of the feet.

If you sit with your legs stretched out in front of you with your feet touching, you can imagine that the big toes are the head, the balls of the feet are the shoulders and down the centre of the inside foot is the spine.  The curve of each foot is comparable to the side view of a person’s back. Where the foot narrows correlates to the waist area thus, all organs found above the waist in the body are found above the waist of the foot.

If there is a malfunction for any reason in the blood circulation, which in turn affects the organs nearest to this malfunction, a blockage occurs in the energy pathway and crystalline deposits form at the reflex point representing the organ where the disorder is showing itself. These deposits can be felt when they are present. Equally they can be broken down by massage using the correct pressure to bring about relaxation and a relief from the symptoms being suffered.

The principle of good health is one of balance with all bodily systems behaving as nature intended, complementing one another to help the body to achieve and sustain good health. The human body, apart from its more mysterious attributes, like the ability to think, is an intricate machine in which the blood acts like oil; therefore it is of prime importance to the working of that machine that the blood circulation flows unimpeded throughout the body.  If there is congestion in the body, then circulation is poor. If the circulation is upset by tension or stress then illness can occur, as the organs do not receive enough blood. Each cell is contracting and relaxing every moment, and when distress occurs this cannot be as regulated as it should be.  This congestion can be felt in the feet when correct pressure is applied to the reflex points. In some cases is it felt as crystalline deposit (rather like a balloon filled with sand instead of air) and often times (as in the case of SRT) is felt as a sharp, knife-like pain.

So how does Swiss Reflex Therapy differ from Reflexology?   Generally speaking, the reflexologist will perhaps ask questions or have you fill out a questionnaire regarding your general state of health, diet and exercise. The same is true for Swiss Reflex Therapy. Following that the reflexologist will examine your feet and may ask further questions. The treatment begins with some general relaxation techniques, followed by a precise thumb and finger walking technique aimed at applying pressure to every reflex area on the top and bottom of the foot. Sometimes when you see a reflexologist the room is likely to be dimly light, perhaps with some soothing music and the client is laying on a massage table with eyes closed.  Once the initial consultation ends, the remainder of the session may be without any dialogue until the treatment is completed.

Swiss Reflex Therapy is done in three parts; Assessment, Treatment and Client Instruction.

As with Reflexology, SRT is not intended to replace medical diagnosis or treatment.  In most cases, a client is likely to have already seen and been diagnosed by their personal physician.  Aromatherapists use the reflex points, together with a question and answer technique, to help them select the right essential oils to use with their client.  When the reflex points are used for this purpose, they are pressed only long enough to tell whether or not a disorder is present.

The session begins with some basic movements to relax the foot before the therapist begins to conduct an Assessment.  The client is sitting on a massage table with the feet right at the end of the table.  The therapist sits at the end of the table with the client’s face is full view. In the Assessment, the therapist will apply pressure using the tip of the thumb to determine if a blockage is present.  Any blockage is noted on the Reflex Card.  This can be felt by the client as anything from a strong discomfort to a sharp pain when the reflex is pressed. Throughout the assessment, the therapist engages the client in an affirmative dialogue based on what they feel and see in the client’s body language and feet.  For example, when pressing on the solar plexus reflex, if the client seems to “jump” off the table, the therapist may say “so you are dealing with a lot of stress at the moment.”  To which the client will confirm.  Alternatively, if pressing on the sinuses and there is no response from the client nor any blockage felt in the reflex, the therapist will say “so you are not suffering from any sinus condition or allergies at this time.” The client will confirm what the therapist is discovering and at the same time will offer additional information without being asked. The therapist assesses each body system, first on the client’s right foot, and then the left foot, moving back and forth between both feet until each body system has been assessed. (The number in parenthesis is the number of reflexes checked for each system or area.)

Reflex Areas in SRT

  • Nervous System (4)
  • Glandular System (10)
  • Sinus, Eye & Ear (14)
  • Bone & Muscular (16)
  • Respiratory System (2)
  • Digestive System (8)
  • Reproductive System (6)
  • Lymph (6)
  • Excretory System (6)

There is a great interactive map at: http://www.dk.co.uk/static/cs/uk/11/features/reflexology/footchart.html

Factoring in the dialogue with the client, the therapist will then determine the top three areas of concern for the client.

Using the “quick guide,” the therapist will determine which essential oils are best suited for the client’s needs. The “quick guide” is a list of essential oils found useful in treating a number of conditions within each body system.  Starting with the first condition, the therapist indicates the oils useful for that condition.  The same is done for the second, then the third.  Any oils that are repeated across the three lists are noted and the formula is developed based on how often an oil appears.  The essential oils are then blended and 30 drops are mixed into an one ounce of an unscented reflex cream base.

The Treatment is carried out by massaging the client’s cream into the affected reflexes. Rather than having pressure applied as in the Assessment, a very small amount of cream is used and massaged into the area using the side of the thumb.  The entire reflex area is massaged in slow circular motion with pressure until the area is no longer painful to the client (generally within 5-30 seconds). If it is still sensitive after one minute, the therapist will move on to the next reflex. The treatment always begins with the solar plexus reflex and ends with a kidney “flush” (which is a sweeping movement that clears the kidneys and moves anything you’ve shifted on its way out.) The treatment is carried out entirely on the client’s right foot, then on the left foot, not back and forth as in the Assessment, with the exception of treating the digestive system which moves back and forth between the feet to follow the flow of the digestive system.

The third part involves you teaching your client – or their caregiver – how to perform the massage on the affected reflexes.  I make a copy of the Reflex Card and I number the reflexes in the order in which they are to be treated.  I also draw a set of arrows over the reflexes as a reminder of how they should massage each reflex. Depending on how acute the condition is, I will have the client perform SRT on themselves once or twice a day.  We discuss when the best time of day is for them to do this as it has to fit into their lifestyle in order to assure client compliance.  In most cases it is before dressing in the morning and again just before bed.  Many remark that performing SRT before bedtime relaxes them and they sleep better. I normally have the client perform SRT once or twice daily for week and then have them come back for a follow-up to ensure they are doing it properly and to check their health progress.  In many cases, the condition has improved or is no longer and issue within a week or less.  You will often find that people are very good at complying for the first four days and then slack off a little as they begin to feel better.  For this reason, I often have them do it twice daily so they get off to a good start. For those who are unable to touch their feet or are suffering from a condition that makes them unable to perform the massage themselves, I will have them bring a caregiver and I will show the caregiver how to perform the massage.

You may be asking yourself how teaching someone to help themselves boosts your business.  I have found that over time, people tend to find it difficult to schedule weekly reflexology sessions or they become resentful of the cumulative costs associated with such care.  In educating your client and providing them a tool to be more proactive in their own health care is empowering!  In my practice and among those practicing SRT abroad, we have found that clients are very DIY and are also appreciative to be able to have the power put back in their hands for their health care.  The responsibility for healing is theirs and if they aren’t healing they tend to assume it is due to their lack of commitment or performance and not yours, which in many cases spurs them on to be more responsible with performing the massage and attending their follow-up visit.  Additionally, when they have achieved success, the next time they have a condition or concern they more likely to return to you to find out how to address it.

Often a client will continue to use the cream as a general foot cream before bed and call you for more when they run out.  So it is possible to continue providing products for that client as well.

Case Studies

Case Study: Plantar fasciitis                                                                     The client had Plantar fasciitis, a condition that that manifests as movement-related pain under the sole and heel of the foot.  It is a disorder of the insertion site of ligament on the bone and is characterized by scarring, inflammation, or structural breakdown of the foot’s plantar fascia. It is often caused by overuse injury of the plantar fascia, increased exercise, standing for long periods of time, weight or age. Though plantar fasciitis was originally thought to be an inflammatory process, newer studies have demonstrated structural changes more consistent with a degenerative process.  The pain can manifest from the lower back down the legs.

The client “R” is a sheep breeder and his symptoms occurred unfortunately during “lambing time” when he could not stop working.  He had been standing for long hours in cool and damp conditions.  The pain was not relieved by pain killers.

The client was normally very fit and leads a very active lifestyle.

The client received Swiss Reflex Therapy and a leg massage at the initial visit.  The heels of both feet were very painful to the touch. The client found it easier to get off the massage table at the end of the treatment, then to get on it.

The following essential oils were used in his treatment:

Clove bud for its pain relieving properties and warmth                                                      Juniper berry for pain relief and detoxification                                                              Sweet marjoram for pain, swollen joints, and warmth                                                    Rosemary for pain relief in muscles                                                                                          Ginger for sprains and relieving cramp

6 drops of each oil (30 drops total) were blended into one ounce of the reflex cream base for use in Swiss Reflex Treatment.

His wife was asked to continue massing his legs and performing SRT on his feet on a daily basis.

A massage oil was made for his wife to use containing 3 drops of each oil (15 drops total) blended into 50 ml Hypericum infused oil for leg massages at home.

He was advised to rest his legs as much as possible when not at work and to visit is general physician to confirm his condition. His GP did confirm this diagnosis and X-ray and physiotherapy appointments were made. His pain lessened within a couple of days and continued to abate.

At the second visit (1 week later), he received Swiss Reflex Therapy.  Although his heels were slightly tender, they were much less sensitive and he had been back to work for about four days. With his wife continuing daily treatments at home, his response to the treatment was such that he found he did not require a third visit/treatment.

The client was pleased with the outcome.  The therapist was surprised at how quickly he  responded to the treatment, as two professional treatments and the supplemental ones carried out by his wife were sufficient to relieve the problem.  The condition has not reoccurred and he did not experience any problems the following year during lambing time.

Six weeks after treatment he received notice of his initial physiotherapy appointment at the local hospital.  He took great pleasure in informing them that he would no longer require the appointment.

Case Study: Arthritis pain in the neck                                                         Mrs. “A,” 58 years old, was recovering from her second attempt at a hip replacement was to undergo an operation in six months time to fuse her cervical vertebrae due to the arthritis pain located there.  She was reluctant to have the surgery as her husband had recently passed and she needed to continue to be able to drive a car.  She had to wear a surgical collar in the meantime, which she hated.

At the first visit, Mrs. “A” received Swiss Reflex Therapy on her feet and was shown how to perform the treatment on herself at home.  The following oils were selected for use:

10 drops Rosemary for its anti-inflammatory action                                                            4 drops Sweet Marjoram,                                                                                                                8 drops Juniper berry, and                                                                                                              8 drops Lavender all for their anti-inflammatory and analgesic action

The essential oils were blended into one ounce of a bland cream to take home for self care.

At the second visit (2 weeks later), the therapist (Shirley Price) was disappointed that there was no improvement.  She discovered her client had been faithfully massaging the wrong reflex.  This experience indicated the importance of giving a client a marked Swiss Reflex card, illustrating exactly not only the sequence of the treatment, but also the reflex points to be massaged.

Two weeks later, Mrs. “A” was experiencing somewhat less pain and slight improvement in neck mobility.  The improvement continued over the next two weeks and at the fourth appointment Mrs. “A” arrived smiling and wearing a home-made collar of firm foam wrapped in a pretty scarf.

The client continued to check in every two weeks to ensure all was progressing. Six weeks after the fourth appointment, with no further clinic treatments she had her appointment with her surgeon prior to the operation. He was amazed at the change in her mobility and the lack of pain. He asked her what she had been doing and unfortunately she was too embarrassed to say she had been rubbing her big toe. As it was early in the history of complementary therapies in the UK, her reluctance was probably understandable.

Case Study:  Range of motion                                                                   The client, Frank had been in a mining accident 19 years earlier.  A beam had fallen on his shoulder and damaged it.  He suffered a broken rib which had pierced his lung.  So apart from being unable to move his arm away from his side, he walked by shuffling his feet 6″-7″  at a time, and was having breathing difficulties.

He had been seeing a doctor for the whole nineteen years following the accident and was becoming progressively worse, rather than better.  His wife had heard Shirley Price speaking on a radio program about Aromatherapy and contacted her about treatment for Frank.

He received Swiss Reflex Treatment twice a week for two weeks, followed by once per week for two further weeks, then one treatment every other week for a month, then once per month, and eventually once every two or three months. Some treatments at the clinic were carried out by Shirley herself and the others by Debbie Moore, another therapist.

The essential oils selected include:

Black Pepper and Juniper berry for their expectorant, antispasmodic and analgesic properties                                                                                                             Frankincense for its immunostimulant and expectorant properties                       Lavender for its antispasmodic, analgesic and general tonic properties

Frank’s wife was taught how to perform the daily treatment on the reflexes.  It was apparent that she never missed a day.  After six weeks, Frank could raise his arm about 10 cm. After another two months this was increased to 30 cm. His shoulders and head were halfway to being erect and his feet were able to take steps as long as his foot.

Six months later, not having seen him personally for three months, Shirley saw him leaving her clinic with his head erect and an almost normal, albeit slow step.  She went outside to see him.  When she walked up to him, he proudly showed her he could lift his arm almost to shoulder height and was looking forward to the day he could comb his own hair.  With continued SRT he was able to achieve that.

How do I get trained?                                                                               Swiss Reflex training is available to certified Aromatherapists trained at (a minimum) 200 hour course in Aromatherapy.  It is a 2-day course taught typically over a weekend.  The course reviews the history, some case studies and provides detailed instruction.  The students work on each other and models that have been brought in.  There is a review and practical assessment at the end of the course. After completion of the course the students are required to do a minimum of five case studies in which the client has been seen at least two to three times (depending on the severity and progress of the client’s condition.) The case studies are required with a few months of taking the course.  Upon successful completion the student receives a certificate and becomes certified practitioner.

I would love to see more Aromatherapists incorporating SRT into their practice. The treatment is simpler to learn than the techniques involved in reflexology. It is important to know the position of each reflex and attending a practical course.

In summary                                                                                                 When a client comes to see you they are looking for a more immediate sense of well-being.  The use of essential oils often isn’t the magic bullet they are seeking.  It is a slower road to wellness or recovery, and one that usually elicits failure in client compliance.  The “touch” component in SRT offers an immediate sense of comfort and healing.  Connecting with the therapist through verbal dialog is more effective than filling out a form with medical history and a list of chief complaints.  Of course you still want your client to provide you with this information and to have an informed consent form on file, but wouldn’t it be great if you were able to elicit more information than what they quickly wrote on a form?  And what about those clients who came to you without seeing their doctor for a confirmed diagnosis first.  How would you begin to learn what they truly need?

Swiss Reflex Therapy offers you, the Aromatherapist, an opportunity to assess your clients needs and get to the “root cause” of their dis-ease.  As you move your way through the reflexes in the feet, you engage your client in this “affirmative” dialog that often elicits more information.  The process of selecting the oils is simplified and helps you to discover the most effective oils for your blend.  Engaging the client to “tweak” the aroma ensures client compliance.  Performing the SRT massage on the affected reflexes provides the immediate comfort touch your client seeks and begins the healing process right away.  The best part is when you empower your client by showing them how to perform the massage for themselves on the affected reflexes.  Complete healing for many conditions often occurs within just a few days!  It is easy for them to perform and they can feel themselves improving.  The associated aroma brings them back to your office and the holds them in a “healing space” and your nurturing and care.

Swiss Reflex Therapy is a wonderful enhancement to your Aromatherapy practice, as it provides additional value to your client and gives you an opportunity to better serve your client’s needs.

For those in the US, I will be offering this course throughout 2015. If you are interested in learning more, please contact me at: lora.cantele@gmail.com.

This information was presented at the Alliance of International Aromatherapists Educational Teleconference Presentation on October 15, 2014.

The case studies shared originally appeared in Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, 3rd and 4th eds.

Lora Cantele is a Registered Clinical Aromatherapist and Certified Swiss Reflex Therapist and Educator.  She is the editor/publisher of the International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy (www.ijpha.com), a featured writer for Aromatherapy Thymes Magazine, and the co-author of The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness (Robert Rose Books, Canada).

To see a treatment being provided visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywE6aA4ul4w

 

Use all health care options available

rosemary-essential-oil-5When we think of health care, we usually think of traditional medical care that involves the diagnosis and treatment of chronic illness, cancer, etc., which many people refer to as “Western medicine.”

In addition to the type of medical care we have all grown up with, there are several other approaches to health care that are known as “complementary” and “alternative.” Other areas of nontraditional health care include “integrative medicine” as well as “functional medicine.” So, what do all these terms mean and why should we think about using these types of health care?

In general, these are different approaches to health care with a history of use and origins outside of mainstream medicine; and although the term CAM uses the words complementary and alternative together and often interchangeably, these two words refer to somewhat different concepts of health care.

“Complementary” refers to using non-mainstream health care together with traditional or conventional medical care. The term “alternative” refers to using non-mainstream health care in place of traditional health care.

Another term we hear is “integrative medicine.” Think of the use of massage therapy or guided imagery. These are ways of treating a person using nontraditional means to help them heal. They integrate traditional medical care with alternative therapies. As an example, some cancer treatment centers use integrative health care programs which offer acupuncture or meditation to help manage symptoms and side effects of the cancer along with its traditional treatments (chemotherapy, radiation therapy, etc.).

It is interesting to see that “integrative health care” is happening now and is a growing trend among people who understand the benefits. For these individuals it is important to utilize any and all means of health care that will help them treat their illness or, in the case when a person does not have a defined illness, simply stay healthy. The National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) uses the term “complementary health approaches” when discussing natural products or, mind and body health care practices.

“Natural” products include herbs and botanicals, vitamins, minerals and probiotics which are often marketed as dietary supplements. Evidence shows that the value of these alternative products is significantly underestimated. When you look at the research and the scientific evidence for the use of botanicals (herbs and plants) for the treatment and prevention of illness and disease, the evidence is overwhelming. There are hundreds if not thousands of research reports that support the use of natural products for treatment and prevention. Examples include fish oil, echinacea, and mineral supplements. It is interesting to remember that penicillin comes from a fungus; and digoxin, a heart medication, comes from the foxglove plant. When we talk about using anti-oxidants to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, we need to understand that most of these come from plants.

NCCAM also includes “mind and body practices” as other forms of alternative health care. These include acupuncture, massage therapy, meditation, relaxation techniques, spinal manipulation, osteopathic manipulation, chiropractic therapies, tai chi, yoga, hypnotherapy, to name a few. NCCAM is the government’s lead agency for scientific research on health care practices outside of mainstream medicine. Its mission is to define through scientific investigation the usefulness and safety of complementary health care approaches and to understand their roles in improving health. This scientific evidence will help people make informed decisions about their health care. More information about this organization can be found at nccam.nih.gov/about/ataglance.

Another area of complementary medicine is called “functional medicine,” which focuses on alternative treatments emphasizing the interaction between the environment and the gastrointestinal, endocrine and immune systems. Knowing the function of these systems within the body helps to understand the approach of functional medicine. The gastrointestinal (GI) system is the first line of defense the body has to bacteria, viruses, toxins, chemical, and other potentially harmful substances. Maintaining a healthy GI tract is necessary if we are going to be able to ward off these invaders. The endocrine system is the chemical system of the body which contains and controls the hundreds of hormones that keep us healthy. Knowing that there are so many environmental, health and life factors that affect our hormones is a no-brainer to understand why it is so important to keep this system healthy. The immune system allows us to fight infections and probably also helps us to deal with cancer cells and other illnesses.

Keeping the body functional should be one of the most important goals for health care. How do you do this? The answer to this is what I like to refer to as lifestyle management. This is a daily approach to life that allows you to maintain good health:

• a functional GI, endocrine and immune system;

• a sound and productive brain;

• a musculoskeletal system that allows you to move around and do all the physical things you want to do every day;

• a social and spiritual personality that brings you happiness and fulfillment and enables you to give back, pay it forward and to be grateful for all the blessings you have.

I can tell you from personal and professional experience that one of the most rewarding things you can do is to practice lifestyle management. I do this in my medical practice and in my personal life. It is so enjoyable to see a person take control of their health by taking control of their life. When they realize the power they have over their health, and all the benefits they get from keeping good health practices as the No. 1 priority in life, it is amazing to see what a person can accomplish and what a wonderful life they can enjoy!

Functional medicine is practiced by many physicians who find it important to not only treat a person’s illness but also to prevent illness, disease and disability. The American Board of Functional Medicine (ABFM) is an independent organization that certifies physicians who practice functional medicine.

I believe in and have practiced traditional medical care as a board certified internist for 20 years so I can attest to the significant benefits of this approach. With the addition of complementary health care products and services, we add another dimension to our health care and make available many other prevention and treatment approaches. Therefore, the recommendation would be to continue to rely on traditional medical/health care and add on complementary products, services and treatment approaches as necessary. This will enable you to take full advantage of all that is offered from Western and Eastern philosophies.

Dr. Salvatore Lacagnina is vice president of health and wellness for Lee Memorial Health System. Dr.Sal@Leememorial.org

This was first published July 17, 2014 by new-press.com and is republished here with the author’s permission.