Category Archives: Integrative Health

The Aroma of Choice: Health Freedom and Aromatherapy

woman inhaling







by Dorene Petersen, BA, Dip.NT, Dip.Acu, RH (AHG)                                                     President, American College of Healthcare Sciences

This article first appeared in the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal, Edition Summer 2014 and has been revised for publication here on the IJPHA Blog.

Some of my favorite summertime activities in the States are gathering with friends and family for picnics and parties on the patio, at the park, or at the beach—especially on the Fourth of July. Even though I’m originally from New Zealand, there’s something about this celebration of freedom that fills me with hope and excitement for all the possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead.

We’ve worked hard to build a society for ourselves where we are not discriminated against, where we can speak and write freely, and when we feel things need to change, we have the right to petition our law-makers. Yet, change is a process that takes time, particularly in the holistic health industry. Citizens seeking more natural approaches to healthcare have long had restricted access to services from natural medicine practitioners, such as Registered Aromatherapists (RA).

Aromatherapy and the Law                                                                        In many states, a practitioner can be criminally charged with practicing medicine without a license for offering alternative therapies such as herbal medicine, homeopathy,[1] and aromatherapy. This is also the root issue that spawned the “Health Freedom” movement, which supports patients’ rights to access alternative treatments and health practitioners of their choosing.

So what does this mean for aromatherapists? While the Aromatherapy Registration Council[2] (ARC) offers registration through an extensive exam ensuring RAs have demonstrated a core body of knowledge and commitment to safety standards and ethics, the ARC makes it clear that, legally, “it is important to realize that the ARC Aromatherapy Registration Exam and the ARC Registration in no way constitutes a license to practice medicine, diagnose, or treat patients.”[3]

California law provides a useful example of this type of restriction: “The unlawful practice of medicine is defined as: ‘Any person who practices or attempts to practice, or who advertises or holds him or herself out as practicing, any system or mode of treating the sick or afflicted in this state, or who diagnoses, treats, operates for, or prescribes for any ailment, blemish, deformity, disease, disfigurement, disorder, injury, or other physical or mental condition of any person…’ CA Stat. Sec. 2052.”[4] Considering the many uses and therapeutic service benefits of essential oils, the wording above makes providing a therapeutic aromatherapy consultancy fraught with pitfalls in the state of California, even as a Registered Aromatherapist through the ARC.

However, positive change is on the horizon. The National Health Freedom Coalition (NHFC) is an organization formed with the purpose of promoting and advocating for Health Freedom laws across the United States. As of 2013, there are nine states that have Health Freedom laws, including Arizona, Minnesota, California, Colorado, Rhode Island, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Idaho, and New Mexico. Because legislation varies from state to state, RAs should be vigilantly aware of and compliant with relevant legislation and reform within the state where they practice. The NHFC maintains a listing of the state advocacy groups which can be accessed through their website.[5]

Safe Harbor and Health Freedom Laws: How Do They Affect Aromatherapists?                                                                                   Health Freedom and safe harbor laws mean greater opportunity for Registered Aromatherapists to practice ethically without fear of violating the rigid and over-arching definitions of “practicing medicine without a license.” The legal structure of a safe harbor bill or law can allow non-licensed practitioners to legally operate, as long as they comply with the provisions stated within the safe harbor law.

For example, in 2009, New Mexico passed the safe harbor law, “Unlicensed Health Care Practice Act,” which specifically places aromatherapy under the definition of “‘complementary and alternative health care service’ [defined as] the broad domain of complementary and alternative healing methods and treatments.”[6]

This means that an aromatherapist is protected from being in violation of New Mexico medical licensing laws as long as (s)he complies with the provisions listed within the act. Section 3 states:

A complementary and alternative health care practitioner who is not licensed, certified or registered in New Mexico as a health care practitioner shall not be in violation of any licensing law relating to health care services pursuant to Chapter 61 NMSA 1978 unless that individual: A. engages in any activity prohibited in Section 4 of the Unlicensed Health Care Practice Act; or B. fails to fulfill the duties set forth in Section 5 of the Unlicensed Health Care Practice Act.[7]

One important provision to note in Section 5 of the New Mexico “Unlicensed Health Care Practice Act” is the requirement for the aromatherapist to supply an “informational document” to the patient or client. This is more commonly known as an “informed consent” document. This is a common provision within many safe harbor bills in the U.S., including Louisiana,[8] Minnesota[9] (which also specifically refers to aromatherapy), Rhode Island,[10] and California.[11] This document can be labeled differently in different states—you may see it called something like a “client bill of rights” or “disclosure.”

Under New Mexico law, the informational document notifies the patient or client:

  • of the nature and expected results of the aromatherapy services to be provided
  • that the aromatherapist is not a healthcare practitioner licensed by the state of New Mexico
  • of the aromatherapists’s degrees, education, training, experience, or other qualifications regarding aromatherapy
  • of many other details surrounding the aromatherapist’s background as well as the patient’s rights to honesty and privacy[12]

Some of these states require this “bill of rights” to be visibly posted within the aromatherapist’s office as well as an individual hard copy document.

While this type of requirement varies state to state, many Registered Aromatherapists find it useful to provide an informed consent document regardless of the law. The New Mexico Complimentary and Alternative Medicine Project LLC. (NMCAAMP) has a useful checklist for creating this informational document for New Mexico practitioners, which can be found on their website[13]:

While a great number of states are still without Health Freedom laws, many holistic health advocates are campaigning for safe harbor bills. Melissa Toye, an ACHS graduate and owner of the natural products company Midwest Herbs and Oils, is currently advocating for a safe harbor bill in Missouri.[14]

States Without Health Freedom Laws                                                     It’s extremely encouraging to see our industry progressing. However, even though our society and the allopathic medical community are becoming more comfortable with the idea of alternative modalities like aromatherapy, there are still many states without Health Freedom laws.

As with any healthcare practice, it’s essential that a Registered Aromatherapist be highly informed about the laws of his or her state in order to legally practice aromatherapy in a state without a safe harbor law. Legislation varies from state to state, and I would highly encourage all aromatherapists to visit their state’s legislative website and review the laws relating to healthcare and practicing medicine. But I would also like to offer a few basic guidelines and key functions—the do’s and don’ts—of a Registered Aromatherapist.

Let’s start by discussing what an aromatherapist does not do:

  • Diagnose disease: An aromatherapist is free to evaluate a client and determine possible causes of imbalance, but he or she cannot diagnose disease, and should always refer clients back to their primary care physician for a diagnosis when necessary.
  • Treat disease: As with diagnostics, the aromatherapist does not focus on disease, but rather shares helpful information with clients, empowering them to take control of their own health and wellness.
  • Prescribe drugs or pharmaceuticals: An aromatherapist offers education surrounding essential oils, herbs, natural remedies, and holistic nutrition.
  • Perform invasive procedures or touch therapies without licensing: Registration through ARC does not license an aromatherapist to perform touch therapies such as reflexology, chiropractics, or massage. However, if an aromatherapist is also a licensed chiropractor or massage therapist, the modalities can be used in tandem with one another if it is within the scope of practice of the profession.

There are still many ways an aromatherapist can be a helpful and useful holistic health practitioner without resorting to the “don’ts” listed above. An aromatherapist does…

  • Understand good health and recognizes that it requires a holistic approach, including fresh water, physical activity, fresh air and sun, plenty of rest, and a focus on proper nutrition.
  • Share knowledge about achieving and maintaining health and wellness regularly with essential oils, homeopathics, herbs, and other natural modalities.
  • Evaluate each client with a holistic approach, recognizing that daily nutrition, the environment, and lifestyle choices have a large impact on health and wellness.
  • Empower their client to achieve improved health by addressing any imbalances caused by poor sleep quality, imbalanced nutrition, and any other negative lifestyle habits.
  • Recognize when allopathic healthcare is needed, and is always prepared to refer a client to their primary care physician for diagnosis and/or treatment.

Ambassadors for Aromatherapy and Natural Medicine                        While the Health Freedom movement is growing and legislation is changing, aromatherapists have an obligation to uphold the highest standards and ethics to maintain integrity within our industry.

This requires vigilance when working with essential oils for clinical use. It’s important, for example, that an essential oil is not labeled to imply that it’s intended for use in the diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and intended to affect the structure or any function of the body. This type of claim categorizes the oil as a drug, and all “new drugs” require approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). So, for example, as an aromatherapist you cannot say, “This oil is supportive for cholesterol.” Though the statement does not include the word “treat,” it implies cholesterol is high.

Registered Aromatherapists should always choose the highest quality of pure, unadulterated essential oils. This requires a thorough knowledge of sourcing, production, distillation, and labeling. There are many unregulated and misleading terms when it comes to essential oils such as: “spray free,” “all natural,” “therapeutic grade,” and “CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade®.” These are unregulated marketing terms, and in no way mean the oils are truly pure, organic, or unadulterated, and often lead consumers to falsely believe that they are superior to Certified Organic essential oils.

We are ambassadors for the practice of aromatherapy. With all of these exciting changes, it’s ever more important to maintain the upmost integrity when practicing aromatherapy. I often find it helpful to re-read the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy’s Code of Ethics[15], the AIA Code of Ethics[16], the AIA Standards of Practice[17], and the ARC Disciplinary Policy[18].

I am encouraged by the progress we have made in our efforts to make aromatherapy and other natural modalities more readily available and accepted. The road to Health Freedom is long, but I couldn’t be more excited to be part of such a courageous and inspiring community of healthcare practitioners.

Dorene Petersen is President and Founder of the American College of Healthcare Sciences. She holds a BA in Archaeology and Anthropology from Otago University, New Zealand, is a NZ trained Naturopath and ran a busy clinic in NZ specializing in aromatherapy and herbal medicine. She is also a certified acupuncturist with specialized training in Chinese herbal medicine and moxibustion. Dorene serves as Chair of the Aromatherapy Registration Council and is a member of the Research and Educational Standards Subcommittee of the Distance Education Training Council. In addition to her work as President of the College, Dorene also teaches courses for ACHS and leads the annual ACHS study-abroad program to Indonesia and other locations, which explore holistic health, traditional herbal healing, aromatherapy, and essential oil distillation and production, among other topics.

*This article originally appeared in the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal Summer 2014.2:

[1] National Health Freedom Coalition (NHFC). (2012). Mission and Case Statement. Retrieved from

[2] You can learn more about this organization on their website at

[3] Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC). (2011). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from

[4] National Health Freedom Coalition. (2012). Mission and Case Statement. Retrieved from

[5] You can learn more about the National Health Freedom Coalition at:

[6] Unlicensed Health Care Practice Act HHGAC/HB 664 Retrieved from The National Health Freedom Coalition (NHFC), Health Freedom Laws Passed:

[7] Ibid.

[8] 2005 Louisiana Revised Statutes 20-37 VI-B. Retrieved from Louisiana State Legislature:

[9] Chapter 146A. Complementary and Alternative Health Care Practices. Retrieved from 2013 Minnesota Statues:

[10] Relating to Health and Safety – Unlicensed Health Care Practices. Retrieved from State of Rhode Island General Assembly:

[11] 2001 California SB577 – California Complementary and Alternative Health Care Practitioners. Retrieved from

[12] Unlicensed Health Care Practice Act HHGAC/HB 664 Retrieved from The National Health Freedom Coalition (NHFC), Health Freedom Laws Passed:

[13] New Mexico Complimentary and Alternative Medicine Project LLC (NMCAAMP) Check list for creating the ‘Patient Information Document’ Retrieved from

[14] Oberholtz, C. & Rittman, E. (2014, February 20). KCTV5. Missouri woman seeks bill to support alternative medicine. Retrieved from

[15] National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA). (2014). Code of Ethics. Retrieved from

[16] Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA). (2014). Code of Ethics. Retrieved from

[17]Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC). (2014). About. Retrieved from

[18] Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC). (2014). About. Retrieved from


Book Review: Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Edition

EO Safety

Essential Oil Safety, 2nd edition                                                                                                     By Robert Tisserand and Rodney Young PhD

It has been 12 years since the original edition of “Essential Oil Safety” was published. In that time the world of essential oils has changed rapidly, this work reflecting those changes in a highly critical and comprehensive manner.

When I first opened the second edition and browsed the contents, there was only one word that came to mind – ‘WOW’! As a lecturer in Aromatic Medicine and a formulator,  the chemistry of essential oils is an integral part of my day-to-day working life.  This work has become my go-to reference for toxicity data, drug interactions, regulatory body recommendations and so much more.

The meticulous level of detail that both authors have achieved is easily seen when browsing the essential oil profiles which have been expanded from 95 to 400 (including many newer essential oils such as Fragonia and Honey Myrtle). Each profile now includes detailed constituent chemistry data, safety hazard data from various sources including the EU and IFRA, regulatory guidelines for safe and appropriate usage, organ specific and systemic effects plus general comments. The inclusion of chemotypes of commonly used species, such as Niaouli, Rosemary and Thyme, is a useful feature for both formulators and therapists alike.

The new organ system specific chapters are a goldmine of information for therapists wishing to gain a deeper understanding of the interaction of aromatic compounds with the human organism. Sensible, balanced information is given in a highly readable format about some fairly heavy subject matter. This clear, easy-to-read style of information delivery is a testament to the authors and editors commitment to the target audience making this an ideal addition to course textbook lists.

When it comes to the chemical constituent profiles, these too have been expanded in a similarly detailed manner. Natural sources of each constituent >1% are listed facilitating easy substitutions during formulating. Pharmacokinetic, dermal and oral LD50 data along with the neurotoxicity and mutagenicity/genotoxicity data make this section extremely important to pharmaceutical, perfumery and cosmetic formulators.

For food and beverage scientists this work is of equal importance as it covers the regulatory guidelines for both essential oils and isolated constituents, the suggested oral doses and any known adverse side effects.

One would expect this new, hugely expanded 2nd edition to have a similarly expanded price tag, but surprisingly the new edition is currently being offered by most book sellers for less than its predecessor.

This work is a must-have reference for anyone working with essential oils or their constituents regardless of profession or level of knowledge. If you only purchase one new referenced text this year, spend your money wisely and grab this long awaited and much-needed reference work.

This book review written by Mark Webb, BSc, MASCC appears in the International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy Volume 2 Issue 3

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Expanding Aromatherapy: A Recap of the AIA International Aromatherapy Conference 2013


There was a good vibe at this year’s AIA International Conference held September 19-22 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  With the theme “Power of the Past-Force of the Future,” the wide variety of presentations had something to offer those of every level of Aromatherapy training.  For the first time, massage therapy attendees were able to earn National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) credits. The IJPHA was happy to see many members of our editorial review team as presenters at this year’s event. Within the opening statements, president Bev Day read a letter from Bill Foster, Mayor of St. Petersburg, declaring September as “Aromatherapy Month.”

Each morning began with a workshop on Kundalini Yoga led by Nancy Graves, MBA, CA.  The sessions went beyond daily exercise and breathing as Ms. Graves focused on how Kundalini Yoga could be integrated with essential oils as a healing modality, including cold depression (a systematic response to stress), self-care for the healer, and balance through breath.

Keynote speaker Rhiannon Lewis asked the question “Are you working at the coalface?”  The coalface is a reference to miners, those who remove coal from the ‘face’ of the mine, however it is now more commonly used to mean any work closest to the frontline.  Is your approach or involvement in Aromatherapy theoretical or are you engaging with clients in your practice?  With a focus on expanding clinical Aromatherapy through research-informed practice, Ms. Lewis compared the work of the coal miners to the practice of Aromatherapists working with clients directly in the field with clients.  Emphasis was placed on the necessity of Aromatherapists to actively practice their craft by putting research into practice and adding to the body of knowledge in the industry.

Cindy Black, L.Ac, gave a spirited presentation on the anatomy of the mind-body connection/Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI).  Ms. Black discussed the intricacies of the central nervous system, the hypothalamus, and how olfaction influences the brain and its further effect on the immune and autonomic nervous systems.  She presented a topic often hard to comprehend in an easily understood format with lots of humor woven throughout.  Her teaching method is one reason she is a “pillar of the aromatic community.”

We explored “The 5th Element” with Katharine Koeppen, RA, LMT. Ms. Koeppen walked us through defining the mysterious etheric temperment and its relationship to Aromatherapy.  A sense of loneliness and lack of identity are two of the archetypal descriptions of those etheric clients who are this temperament.  She discussed the use of three essential oils (Laurus nobilis, Jasminum grandiflorum, and Viola odorata) that can help to facilitate healing in those who are challenging but, when they are fully comfortable, are “beautiful to behold.”

Treating allergic, acute, and chronic inflammatory issues was addressed by Peter Holmes, L.Ac., MH.  Per Mr. Holmes, combining the knowledge of six pathogenic conditions (tense or weak, hot or cold, dry or damp) with an individual’s “terrain” is the key to essential oil selection and ultimately healing. The presentation addressed factors that cause inflammation, a variety of anti-inflammatory essential oils, and treatment examples.  His advice? Whatever you are treating you should always address the whole underlying terrain.

Lymphodema therapist and Clinical Aromatherapist Linda Ann Khan shared a holistic multidisciplinary approach to boosting immunity and the role of the lymphatic system.  The powerful synergy of using Aromatherapy and manual lymph drainage can provide healing for many conditions including chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and other autoimmune disorders.  Supporting the health of the terrain, balancing body and mind, and rejuvenating the lymphatic system through exercise, breathing, yoga, and Aromatherapy are key to boosting immunity.  Various essential oil research and the importance of skin-brushing were discussed.

The first day concluded with a book signing by the authors on hand, most notably Robert Tisserand with the advance copies of his highly anticipated second edition of Essential Oil Safety.  Mr. Tisserand kicked off the conference with a pre-conference seminar on clinical safety in Aromatherapy.  The seven and a half hour presentation was a highlight of this conference.  Mr. Tisserand covered everything from key issues in safety to risk management with a larger portion of the presentation on adverse effects in cancer care, pregnancy, drug interactions, and skin allergy.  As usual, his presentation included a lot of myth busting, solid research, and a fair amount of wit.  Attendees of the workshop were the first to purchase their copy of his new book.

The next day began with Robert Tisserand and a lighter but informative look at Aromatherapy safety, scares and myths. Various research studies were reviewed within the presentations and attendees learned about evaluating information from a variety of sources.  Other outcomes included an explanation as to why safety regulations may be biased, the assumption that in vitro data can be hypothesized in the real world, and a description between theoretical risk and actual risk.  Some of the more popular controversial research and myths were discussed, as well as the idea that “ignorance, bias, profit and politics” are all involved in sustaining myths and scares in the industry.

Another lively presentation was given by Clinical Aromatherapist and educator, Andrea Butje.  Ms. Butje shared her approach to making chemistry studies easy and fun for students.  After a discussion on the benefits of teaching essential oil chemistry, Ms. Butje presented a model of four building blocks of essential oil chemistry and teaching methods to make it more accessible and to support a positive experience for the student.  By making the chemistry relevant it is easier to engage the student and instill confidence.

Author and educator Gabriel Mojay effectively illustrated the correlation between scientific and energetic therapeutics as confirmed through modern research.  “Aromadynamics” of an essential oil refers to their therapeutic effects according to established theories in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda and ancient Greek medicine.  Drawing on his experience as a clinical practitioner and work with Traditional Chinese Medicine, Mr. Mojay provided a framework for several key olfactory/energetic mind/body actions to expand Aromatherapists’ use of essential oils and enhance their formulae for a wide variety of conditions.

Returning to the podium again this year, Dr. Raphael d’Angelo discussed the pitfalls often experienced in an Aromatherapy practice.  As the healthcare environment becomes more regulated, new challenges come about for Aromatherapy practitioners.  Dr. d’Angelo discussed personal, business and therapy obstacles that can arise in your practice and offered advice on how to not let yourself be derailed by them.  Information on ministerial, the Native American Free Exercise of Religion Act, and 9th Amendment protection was provided.  In closing, Dr. d’Angelo reminds us that we don’t “treat”—the body heals itself with the assistance of essential oils. Also good communication is part of our best intentions—never imply or guarantee outcome and always work within your scope of practice or make a suitable referral.

The second day of lectures ended with Registered Aromatherapist and Herbalist Mindy Green, who put essential oils under scrutiny with regard to the controversy over whether they are nature’s medicine or dangerous toxins. While essential oils are both, the answer lies in dosage, duration, and administration.  Essential oils have been shown to be effective with some “Super Bugs” where conventional treatment with antibiotics has failed.  Education in clinical aspects of Aromatherapy is a key factor.

Nurse-Aromatherapist Valerie Cooksley invoked possibilities: There’s taking a bath and then there’s taking a bath.  She began the day with a fascinating presentation on aromatic medicinal bath therapies a.k.a. Aroma-Balneotheraputics.  Many of us, at one time or another, may have added sea salts, essential oils, and/or herbs to a bath without giving much thought to the possibility of possible contraindications for a variety of conditions.  After delving into the rich history of Balneotherapy and our relationship with water, Ms. Cooksley shared specific guidelines for everything from water temperature, which mineral salts and botanical extracts/essential oils to use, and time duration of a bath for therapeutic intervention.  Indications, contraindications and adverse reactions were discussed and several recipes were given.

Aromatherapist Bridget Kelley used Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs and the teachings of Socrates to illustrate the progression of our experience of essential oils and that of our client.  By understanding each viewpoint, we can better serve the needs of our client and give them a better understanding of how to approach essential oils within their treatment plan.  Establishing trust and active listening are just two of many ways to promote Aromatherapy within your practice.

Ann Harman, organic farmer and artisan distiller of hydrolats, gave an interesting presentation on the chemistry of hydrolats.  Her presentation included GC/MS reports of the volatile components found in hydrolats, a rarity in the Aromatherapy community.  Hydrolats seems to be underused in the industry, perhaps due to lack of knowledge on how to buy, store and use.  Ms. Harman addressed several of those issues while advising to care for hydrosols “like a fine wine.” She pointed to current research of hydrosols in microbiology, chemistry, free radical reduction, and treating insomnia, and listed over a dozen ways to use hydrosols in therapy.

A highlight for many attendees was the presentation given by Joan Morais on creating a natural skin-care line.  Ms. Morais is an Aromatherapist, herbalist and natural cosmetic formulator.  She discussed some of the basics of skin-care and the essential oils best used for various skin types.  However, she went a bit further and shared her recommendations for using hydrolats, herbs and herbal extracts in addition to the essential oils, and her approach to a natural skin-care regime.  Scrubs, serums, lotions and steams were among many of the recipes and protocols she discussed.  She concluded with an interactive Do-It-Yourself lymphatic facial massage.

The final presentation of the conference was given by Dr. Debrah Zepf.  Working a recap of everything she learned at the conference into her own presentation, Dr. Zepf discussed her dissertation research indicating that energetic medicine and essential oils can lower cholesterol.  The power of the chakras, spoken affirmations, and therapeutic touch were some of the interventions used in her study.  Conclusions from her study indicate that energy medicine and, more specifically, the power of positive thinking can lower cholesterol.  Bringing positive thought together with other integrative interventions can bring limitless possibilities and whole body health, leaving attendees with the mantra “Change your thoughts, change your world.”

The Annual General Meeting, held during the lunch hour on day two.  The election results were announced and the new officers installed.  Two interesting announcements were made.  The first by Marge Clark of Nature’s Gift.  Ms. Clark shared information about an essential oil wholesaler in the U.S. who had their shipment of Pelargonium graveolens seized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  In investigating the shipment, the FDA used the internet to learn more about the oil and found another company’s website in which they indicated health claims of the oil.  While it was not the wholesale company’s own website they viewed, and as the distributor in question makes no health claims on their own site, the shipment was seized and set aside to be destroyed.  The wholesaler received a letter from the FDA accusing them of importing “a new drug without an approved new drug application.” Ms. Clark is seeking assistance from Aromatherapists in contacting various members of Congress about the situation. In addition, a new volunteer supported website ( is addressing the issue from a different perspective.  The second announcement was an impassioned one given by Jade Shutes, president of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA). Ms. Shutes discussed the Aromatherapy community in America and suggested that perhaps members of AIA and NAHA should start a dialog about the possibility of a merger between the two organizations.  An awards ceremony was held immediately after the adjournment of the meeting.  Various awards were given to members for their contributions to the organization, however the highlight was the announcement of Andrea Butje as the recipient of the AIA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.  Ms. Butje is best known for her school, Aromahead Institute, as well as her online (essential oil chemistry) Component Database.  Ms. Butje is a celebrated Aromatherapy educator, essential oil purveyor, and marketing guru.  Our congratulations go out to her!

The event was not without its social fun and networking.  Friday night saw many attendees on the dance floor, led by “Vintage Aromatherapist” Sylla Sheppard-Hanger, at the evening reception.  Ms. Sheppard-Hanger also gave an entertaining presentation during the lunch hour on the first day with a big “shout out” to Aromatherapy pioneers, several of whom were on hand.  She began with a slide presentation about her 40-year journey in Aromatherapy and her involvement with breast cancer, autistic children, and the United Aromatherapy Effort with a look at the development of Aromatherapy in the U.S.  As a thank you to those pioneers, including attendees Emilee Stewart and Colleen Dodt, she handed out “Vintage Aromatherapist” awards by decade.  In an effort to inspire those new to Aromatherapy, she concluded her presentation with a request to honor the past and keep moving Aromatherapy forward.  She coined the term “co-opetition” which inspires cooperation not competition in the industry, particularly between professionally trained Aromatherapists and independent distributors engaged in multi-level marketing companies.  She also invited newer Aromatherapists to “use” her up as well as other vintage/pioneer Aromatherapists who have much to offer with their expertise to the future leaders of our industry.

Written by Lora Cantele, CMAIA, RA, CSRT


Help create future issues of the IJPHA


The International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy (IJPHA) is a peer-reviewed professional journal dedicated to providing the professional holistic practitioner with useful information and resources to enhance their practice and expand their “toolbox.”

We need your input for future issues. Would you please take a few moments to complete our survey.  Your responses will help to shape future issues of the IJPHA.

Click here to take the survey

Our objective                                                                                                                           

The IJPHA aims to provide the reader with informative articles highlighting the practical application of essential oils and to  provide a showcase for practitioner case studies. 

Each quarterly issue contains articles and/or tips on how to build and maintain a thriving successful business; recipes utilizing essential oils in cooking, therapeutic blends, and/or personal care products; and news and current information on issues relevant to the field of aromatherapy and holistic health care.

The professional holistic aromatherapist assesses the client’s needs physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  Addressing the clients needs goes beyond the use of essential oils alone and may include herbs, homeopathic remedies, flower essences, supplements and advice on nutrition, exercise and techniques for improved relaxation to address the client’s body, mind and spirit.  When necessary, a practitioner may make recommendations to a client to seek complementary care from another provider or to seek advice from an integrative practitioner.  The IJPHA strives to provide information and resources with regard to integrative and complementary healthcare methods, as well as additional “tools” for the professional holistic aromatherapist.

Click here to take the survey.

Thank you for your time!

Lora Cantele, Publisher/Editor IJPHA

The Healing Art of Color Aromatherapy


“There is nothing less scientific than to deny something because it cannot be explained.”  –Dr. Jean Valnet, The Practice of Aromatherapy

I found this quote at the top of the chapter “Vibrational Aromatherapy” in Valerie Ann Worwood’s book, The Fragrant Heavens. I understood immediately why she chose this quote to begin a discussion on vibrational aromatherapy, as I am often questioned about the science behind Color Energy Therapy and its esoteric nature.

Two aspects of the body                                                                     Science teaches us that the human body is in fact part physical matter and part energy matter. So, in order to have optimal health and wellness, we need to address both aspects. When we utilize Aromatherapy and Color Therapy together, we have the means to positively affect both aspects of the self. Color Aromatherapy is a form of vibrational Aromatherapy (a.k.a. energetic Aromatherapy) that not only addresses the physical body, but the energy component as well, providing an ideal holistic healing practice.

Color therapy and aromatherapy are partners                                   The innovative practice of combining Color Therapy and Aromatherapy offers a wise union of our most complex sense, our sense of sight, with our strongest sense, our sense of smell.

There are rich similarities between these two senses and coordinating therapies: both communicate with the limbic system of the brain and the hypothalamus. Just as the olfactory bulb transmits fragrance molecules to the limbic system, photoreceptors in each eye transform light into electrical impulses which then affects the brain’s hypothalamus; both therapies trigger emotional responses due to this relationship with the hypothalamus which regulates the function of the autonomic nervous system. The experiences of pleasure, pain, “fight or flight,” and mental stress are governed by this system, thus our overall emotional health is affected.  Both create biochemical reactions that send signals to the brain to stimulate the release of neurotransmitters including serotonin (olfaction) and melatonin (vision), both influence our sensory memory, and both stimulate vital glands. Aromatherapy affects the pituitary “master” gland which regulates hormones like endorphins. Color Therapy affects the pineal gland which secretes melatonin, influences intuition and is responsible for how the body utilizes light energy. Color Therapy is a form of light therapy, and many Color Therapists also utilize light to activate the pineal gland.

Since both therapies trigger memories, there is the potential of forming new positive associations through color and scent. Color seems to affect memory partly due to the repetition of color associations in modern society known as “color conditioning.” For instance, the recurrence of seeing yellow smiley faces, the image of a smiley face inside a yellow sun, yellow legal pads, yellow highlighter pens and yellow Post-it® notes have clearly saturated our minds with the message that yellow is associated with joy and clarity. In his Introduction to Physiological Optics, James P.C. Southall speaks to our sense of sight and how the brain may be as much a part of determining what we see as our actual eyesight itself.  “Adult vision is the result of an accumulation of observations and associations of ideas.” (Birren, 1950) It is the conscious utilization of this capability that makes Color Aromatherapy truly compelling.

A deeper understanding of color therapy                                           The value of Color Therapy dates back to 1500 B.C. It was keenly understood by the ancient yogic rishis who revered the Sun’s energy as a healer. A passage in the Atharva Veda, one of the oldest texts, speaks of jaundice being healed with the red energy of the Sun, and the Kurma Purana, an Ayurvedic treatise, speaks to all of creation being constructed of color rays from the sun. The Egyptian physicians utilized color in their healing practices evidenced in the Ebers Papyrus, an Egyptian medical manuscript, which mentions the use of “colored minerals that are endowed with efficacy apparently because of their hue” (Birren, 1950). Pythagoras, the Greek Philosopher who developed the Pythagorean Theory of Music and Color, related the wavelengths of the visible spectrum to both the frequencies of the notes in a musical scale and the planet’s own frequencies. He believed that the human body is a microcosm of the macrocosm and that the vibrations of color and sound affect the body (Carey and Muynck, 2002). Others who earnestly appreciated benefits of color include: Greek mystics Celsus and Galen who prescribed color to heal ailments, modern scientist Sir Isaac Newton who discovered the visible light spectrum, Johann Wolfgang Goethe who created the color wheel, as well as influential doctors Niels Finsen, Edwin Babbitt and Dinshah Ghadiali who developed Color Light Therapy techniques.

What is Color? Simply put, Color is Energy. Color is vibration, frequency and particular wavelengths of sunlight’s visible spectrum. These color rays are always affecting you physically, physiologically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually, whether you are aware of it or not. It is through experiments with Color Light Therapy that medical researchers have been proving the effects of color on the body and nervous system. For example, Dr. Sharon McDonald conducted tests at San Diego State University of Nursing proving that patients with rheumatoid arthritis had noticeable pain relief after putting their hands in a box illuminated by an incandescent light shining through a blue filter. In addition, clinical psychologist Alexander Schauss is now well-known for his revolutionary work with correctional centers spearheading the use of Baker-Miller pink (bubble-gum pink) painted walls, which proved to reduce muscle strength and aggression in inmates.

Each color vibrates at a particular rate that has a specific effect on the human (hue-man) body and energy system. The slower-moving frequencies (red, orange and yellow) tend to stimulate the body and the faster-moving frequencies (turquoise, blue and violet) tend to soothe it. For example, Bright Red’s frequency is stimulating and has an energizing activating effect, whereas Pale Blue’s vibration is relaxing and will calm the body and emotions.  Solid research has accrued on the psychological and physiological effects of the color rays red and blue, in particular, due to the attention of physicians interested in Color Therapy. In 1875, a European doctor named Ponza did studies on the effects of red and blue colored rooms on his patients, proving that red positively influenced introverted patients and blue calmed down agitated patients. In 1938, the Worchester State Hospital in Massachusetts did effective testing on patients with colored lights revealing that red and magenta had a stimulating effect, while blue had a soothing effect.  In 1958, Robert Gerard, PhD. at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) did substantial testing to prove that blood pressure increases under red light and decreases under blue light (Birren, 1950) .

by Constance Hart, Certified Color Therapist, Color Energy Expert, Color Aromatherapist

Image: © AppleAday

The full article can be viewed in the Summer 2013 issue of the International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy (IJPHA-Vol.2, Issue 1).  To subscribe go to

Disclaimer                                                                                                                                                   The editor/publisher does not accept  responsibility for the opinions, advice, and recommendations of its contributors.  Furthermore, the IJPHA accepts no    responsibility for any incident or injury to  persons or property resulting from the use of any method, products, instructions or ideas contained within this publication.

Aromatherapy at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

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The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital is located in Cape Town, South Africa. It is the largest specialist children’s hospital in southern Africa. The hospital is dedicated to providing world-class paediatric treatment, care, research, and specialist training. The Anesthetics Department has a special interest in Pain Management at the hospital and has established a Creative Arts Therapies Programme including Aromatherapy, Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Child Life Specialists, and Child and Family Psychotherapy.

A volunteer Aromatherapist has been working at the hospital since 2004. Initially this service was only offered in the Burns Unit, but it has since expanded to include all the wards in the hospital. Medical or Allied Health Medical practitioners, including doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and social workers refer patients to the Creative Arts Therapies Team that they feel would benefit from this service.

In 2008 the ‘M’ Technique became the basic method of administering essential oils to the patients during an Aromatherapy treatment. It was felt that traditional massage was too intense for these very fragile children and so this gentler technique is now used. The ‘M’ Technique is a method of light rhythmical stroking movements performed at a set speed and pressure that lulls the body into a very deep state of relaxation. This technique was created by Dr. Jane Buckle under clinical conditions while she was working as a nurse in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Currently there are five additional volunteers that have all been trained in the ‘M’ Technique working in the Oncology Ward, the Burns Unit and the Cardiac and Tracheotomy Wards. The original therapist works mainly in the ICU, but also sees referred patients in other wards.

While it would be ideal to blend an essential oil mix for each individual child, this is impractical in the hospital setting, particularly as the therapists provide their own oils. A blend of German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), and Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara) in a 1% dilution in Grapeseed (Vitis vinifera) oil was decided on as the most appropriate blend for the children being treated at the hospital. The emphasis on the treatment is to provide a calm healing space and to alleviate pain, stress, anxiety, and trauma that children experience while in the hospital. A body that is calm and relaxed is in a much better position to heal than one that is stressed and anxious.

Case Study 1 (Phantom Limb Pain)                                                                                   The patient is a thirteen-year-old boy who touched a live electrical wire and was severely shocked and burnt. As a result of his injuries his left arm had to be amputated above the elbow. He also suffered full thickness burns on his chest and both feet.

The first time that this young boy received an aromatherapy treatment, he was complaining of phantom limb pains in his left arm. The Aromatherapist asked him if he would like her to treat the amputated area and he said yes. At the time he was sitting in his wheelchair and his right arm was elevated in a splint so that his upper arm and elbow were horizontal to the ground with his forearm hanging down. The treatment was started on his right hand and forearm so that he could get the idea of what it felt like. The therapist then moved onto the left side. The treatment started with both of her hands lightly holding his upper arm just above the amputation. She then slowly stroked both hands down towards where his hand should be and asked him to tell her when she reached his fingers. It is well-known that when patients suffer phantom pains the missing limb often feels much shorter or longer than what it actually was (Nikolajsen and Jensen, 2001). For this young man the phantom hand was at the appropriate place. The therapist started off stroking her hands up towards his shoulder and then down towards his ‘hand’ ending the stroke with her hands over his ‘hand.’ She held his ‘hand’ with her hands and used her thumbs to do light stretches from the middle of his ‘hand’ to the sides. Each ‘finger’ was then treated with three circles over each joint and then a stroke to the ‘finger.’ The therapist explained to him which ‘finger’ she was working with and each time the corresponding finger on his right hand would move. He didn’t seem to be aware of this as he was watching her intently work on his left ‘hand’. She continued to do the ‘M’ Technique stroking movements on his ‘arm’ and his whole body just let go and he slumped in the chair, totally relaxed. At the end of his treatment he said that the pain in his missing limb had gone. A little later in the day the Art Therapist went to work with him and he excitedly told her how the treatment had taken away the pain in his arm.

The Aromatherapist continued to work with this young man and gave him another eight treatments, but by thethird session his phantom pains had disappeared completely. He did however suffer from severe itching as his wounds healed and he said that the massage helped to relieve his itching. He loved his treatments and would call the therapist over as soon as he saw her walk into the ward to ask if it was his turn. For the remainder of his treatments there was no longer a need to include the missing limb.

by Linda-Anne O’Flaherty, Therapeutic Aromatherapist

Image: Linda-Anne O’Flaherty

More of Linda-Anne’s case studies can be found in the Summer 2013 issues of the International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy (IJPHA-Vol.2, Issue 1)  To subscribe go to

Disclaimer                                                                                                                                                   The editor/publisher does not accept  responsibility for the opinions, advice, and recommendations of its contributors.  Furthermore, the IJPHA accepts no    responsibility for any incident or injury to  persons or property resulting from the use of any method, products, instructions or ideas contained within this publication.

The Mechanism of Antifungal Action of Essential Oil from Dill (Anethum graveolens L.) on Aspergillus flavus



The essential oil extracted from the seeds of dill (Anethum graveolens L.) was demonstrated in this study as a potential source of an eco-friendly antifungal agent. To elucidate the mechanism of the antifungal action further, the effect of the essential oil on the plasma membrane and mitochondria of Aspergillus flavus was investigated. The lesion in the plasma membrane was detected through flow cytometry and further verified through the inhibition of ergosterol synthesis. The essential oil caused morphological changes in the cells of A. flavus and a reduction in the ergosterol quantity. Moreover, mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP), acidification of external medium, and mitochondrial ATPase and dehydrogenase activities were detected. The reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation was also examined through fluorometric assay. Exposure to dill oil resulted in an elevation of MMP, and in the suppression of the glucose-induced decrease in external pH at 4 µl/ml. Decreased ATPase and dehydrogenase activities in A. flavus cells were also observed in a dose-dependent manner. The above dysfunctions of the mitochondria caused ROS accumulation in A. flavus. A reduction in cell viability was prevented through the addition of L-cysteine, which indicates that ROS is an important mediator of the antifungal action of dill oil. In summary, the antifungal activity of dill oil results from its ability to disrupt the permeability barrier of the plasma membrane and from the mitochondrial dysfunction-induced ROS accumulation in A. flavus.

Research article: Tian J, Ban X, Zeng H, He J, Chen Y, et al. (2012) The Mechanism of Antifungal Action of Essential Oil from Dill (Anethum graveolens L.) on Aspergillus flavus. PLoS ONE 7(1): e30147. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030147

Read the full article here:

Editor: Bob Lightowlers, Newcastle University, United Kingdom

Copyright: © 2012 Tian et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funding: This work was supported by the National Mega Project on Major Drug Development (2011ZX09401-302), the Commonweal Specialized Research Fund of China Agriculture (201103016), the Key Program of Natural Science Foundation of Hubei Province of China (2010CBB02301), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (20103010101000185). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Image:  Holistic Photo

Check out the spring 2013 issue of the IJPHA for more information on Dill (Anethum graveolens).