Tag Archives: alliance of international aromatherapists

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

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

 

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

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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