Tag Archives: AIA

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.


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

wizard of oz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 (www.AromatherapyUnited.org) 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