Tag Archives: aromatherapy and healthcare

Advancing Clinical Aromatherapy Education in Women’s Health

pam-conradPam Conrad Discusses Her New Evidence-Based Program

Interview by Leslie Moldenauer CHNC, HHP, Cert. Aroma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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10 Essential Steps to Become a Registered Aromatherapist (RA)

*This article was written by Dorene Petersen and first appeared on the ACHS Health and Wellness Blog here: http://info.achs.edu/blog/10-essential-steps-to-become-a-registered-aromatherapist-ra

dorene-petersen_largeOne of the most frequently asked questions I hear from America College of Healthcare Sciences students, graduates, and aroma-enthusiasts is: How do I become a Registered Aromatherapist (RA)?

As you may already know, an RA is an aromatherapist who has successfully demonstrated a core body of aromatherapy knowledge by passing the Aromatherapy Registration Council’s (ARC) Examination. The ARC RA Examination’s primary focus is the safe administration of essential oils and covers topics such as scientific principles, administration, and professional issues in aromatherapy. It is also available in a number of languages, including English, Japanese, and Korean. In mid-2015, it will be available in Chinese.

Once you have successfully passed the ARC RA Examination, you are added to the online international database of ARC Registered Aromatherapists. The RA registration (which is valid for five years) confirms your high standard of aromatherapy education and demonstrates a commitment to the ethical, safe use and administration of essential oils when working with the public.

An additional perk: the ARC will also verify your registration status at the request of employers, government agencies, and anyone who needs to verify your professional qualifications.

But how do you become a Registered Aromatherapist (RA)? Here are 10 essential steps to take to become a Registered Aromatherapist:

Step 1 – Ask Yourself: Am I Qualified to take the ARC Exam?

The very first step before applying for any credential is to ask one simple question: do I meet the qualifications? All students, including international students, can sit for the ARC RA Examination if they:

  • Complete a minimum of 200 hours in a Level II or III aromatherapy program that is in compliance with the current National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) or Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) Educational Guidelines or provide evidence of equivalent training (be sure you include your transcripts and/or syllabi in your application). If you are not sure that your school’s curriculum is covered in the “core body of knowledge,” download the ARC’s Candidate Handbook. You can also encourage your school or aromatherapy training institute to submit final examination questions confidentially to Professional Testing Corporation (PTC) who oversee the exam administration and management.
  • Agree to adhere to the full Disciplinary Policy
  • Complete and file the Application for ARC Registration Examination in Aromatherapy
  • Pay the required fees

Step 2 – Check the Upcoming Application and Examination Dates

Next, you’ll want to make sure you’ve marked the upcoming Application Deadlines and Examination dates on your calendar. The ARC has these dates listed on their website here: http://aromatherapycouncil.org/?page_id=86, and I have also posted a graphic with the upcoming dates below:

ARC Application Deadlines

Step 3 – Download the Candidate Handbook

The Candidate Handbook is a must-have resource when preparing for the ARC Exam. You can download your copy from the PTC’s website here.

The Candidate Handbook will help you understand:

  • The ARC’s mission
  • How to apply to take the Exam
  • How the Exam is scored
  • How you will receive your results
  • The content of the Exam
  • Instructions for re-taking the Exam
  • Fees and refunds
  • How to schedule your Exam appointment
  • Plus it will give you examples of Exam questions!

Step 4 – Study and Prepare for the Exam

Once you’ve reviewed the Candidate Handbook, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect on the Examination. From there, you can continue to study the relevant course materials you’ve saved from your Level II or III aromatherapy program. You can also check out the recommended reading on page 10 of the Candidate Handbook.

The ARC Examination is a computer or a paper-and-pencil examination (with a score of 70% or higher to pass) composed of a maximum of 250 multiple choice questions with a total testing time of four hours. Need some practice questions? Don’t forget to utilize the sample questions in the Candidate Handbook.

The content of the Exam will be weighted approximately based on the following topics:

I. Basic Concepts of Aromatherapy…………………………. 20%

II. Scientific Principles……………………………………………. 30%

III. Administration ………………………………………………….. 35%

IV. Professional Issues ……………………………………………. 15%

As an educator, I know studying takes a lot of time and energy. Don’t forget to maintain your health and wellness while preparing for the Exam:

  • Take a 10 minute break for every hour of study time
  • Reward yourself for a good study session
  • Diffuse your favorite invigorating essential oils in your study space (I love rosemaryRosmarinus officinalis (L.) and bergamot Citrus aurantium (L.) var. bergamia)
  • Maintain balanced, holistic nutrition
  • Drink plenty of water—hydration is good for the brain!

Step 5 – Fill Out Your Application and Pay Required Fees

There are three documents you’ll need to complete your application (the Application and Consent form can be found in your Candidate Handbook):

  1. ARC Disciplinary Policy (you must agree to this policy on your application)
  2. Application for ARC Registration Examination in Aromatherapy, mark the language you prefer, English, Japanese, or Korean (the Japanese and Korean exams are only paper-and-pencil based)
  3. Candidate Consent Form

Reminder: Don’t forget to include your transcripts and/or syllabi from your Level II or Level III aromatherapy program.

The application fee for the exam is $325. You have a few options when paying your exam fee. You can:

  1. Pay by check or money order: Make payable to: PROFESSIONAL TESTING CORPORATION and include in your application packet.
  1. Pay by card: Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are also accepted, and you can complete the Credit Card Payment section on the Application.

DO NOT send cash—be sure to pay through one of the two options listed above.

Step 6 – Send In Your Application

Once you’ve completed your application, it’s time to send it in. Complete your application online or mail your application to PTC at this address:

Professional Testing Corporation
1350 Broadway, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10018

The next ARC application deadline is March 1, 2015, so it’s time to begin gathering your materials and preparing for the Examination (as I mentioned above, the upcoming dates can be found here: http://aromatherapycouncil.org/?page_id=86).

Step 7 – Sit for Your Exam

Now it’s time to take your exam! Once you’ve submitted your application, PTC will contact you within six weeks with an Eligibility Notice.

The Eligibility Notice will tell you how to schedule your examination appointment, and it will also remind you of the available exam dates. The ARC Examination is offered during an established two-week testing period, Monday through Saturday, excluding holidays. You may have different instructions if you are taking the paper-based exam in Japanese or Korean, so be sure to read your Eligibility Notice carefully.

Remember: Exam appointment times are first-come, first-served, so schedule your appointment as soon as you receive your Eligibility Notice. This will increase your chances of being able to take the exam at your preferred location and time. To find a testing center near you, visit www.ptcny.com/cbt/sites.htm or call PSI Exams Online at (800) 733-9267.

Once you’ve scheduled your appointment, PSI will send you a confirmation email with the date, time, and location of your exam. Be sure to review this information carefully, and contact PSI immediately if you notice any errors.

Remember to plan accordingly on the day of your exam: The exam is proctored and you are not permitted to leave the room (even for a toilet break!), so be prepared. You are not permitted to take any paper, books, or iPhones into the examination room.

Be sure to get plenty of sleep the night before, drink lots of water, eat a nutritious breakfast, and allow for adequate travel time so you arrive at your examination center on time and ready to succeed! Don’t try to “study crunch” the night before. If you’ve taken the time to study in the weeks leading up to the exam, you’re already set up for success.

Step 8 – Receive Your Exam Grades and Registry Notification

Once you have completed your exam it will be sent to PTC for grading. If you’ve successfully passed the exam, PTC will notify the ARC that you are successful candidate (congratulations!). The ARC will then prepare a Registration Certificate and update the Register. This process can take four to six weeks.

If you’ve passed the Exam, your test results and your Registration packet will be mailed to you. As a successful registrant, make sure to email the ARC to confirm any details you would like listed on the Register. The ARC will automatically list your name and address, but you can also request to have your website, phone number, and email included on your listing.

You can find the current listing of Registered Aromatherapists (RA) here:http://aromatherapycouncil.org/?page_id=88. Remember, as a Registered Aromatherapist, you are responsible for ensuring your information on the Register is accurate and up-to-date. If your information changes you will find the form to submit updates here http://www.ptcny.net/clients/ARC/RA/Member/DisplayRA.aspx

As I mentioned above, one perk of passing the Examination and becoming an RA is that the ARC will verify your registration status at the request of employers, government agencies, the public, or anyone with whom you wish to share your new credential.

The ARC will only release your RA status, the date your registration was awarded, and any disciplinary actions taken by the ARC.

Step 9 – Utilize Your New RA Credential!

Now that you are a Registered Aromatherapist (RA), you have many options for putting your new credential into action. As an RA, you can…

  • Teach clients how to achieve and sustain good health on a daily basis by incorporating essential oils into their life, and share other natural modalities to supplement their healthy lifestyle if you have the training.
  • Empower clients to achieve improved health through addressing any imbalances caused by a lack of quality sleep, adequate pure water, exercise, fresh air, and relaxation.
  • Help clients to evaluate their lifestyle choices to identify and change any potential causes of ill health and create a wellness plan.

But remember, unless you have previous qualifications and training as a Registered Aromatherapist (RA), you are not a licensed physician. You must be vigilant and aware of the current legislation in your state on the practice of aromatherapy.

Here are a few basic things that an RA cannot do:

  • Diagnose disease. An aromatherapist will always refer clients back to their primary care physicians for a diagnosis if necessary.
  • Treat disease. An aromatherapist’s focus is on health and education, not on disease.
  • Prescribe drugs or pharmaceuticals. Aromatherapists teach clients about essential oils.
  • Perform invasive procedures. Depending on training and licensing, a natural health practitioner may use hands-on techniques, like reflexology.
  • Practice unsafe administration techniques such as Raindrop Therapy or Raindrop Technique.

Step 10 – Maintain Your Credential with Continuing Education

Now that you have your RA credential, it’s important to meet the continuing education requirements. Here are a few things to remember in order to maintain eligibility as a Registered Aromatherapist (RA):

  • Registration is recognized for a maximum period of five years.
  • To maintain Registration, you must be in compliance with the ARC Disciplinary Policy.
  • You must also be in compliance with other ARC standards, policies, and procedures.

After five years, you can…

  • Either retake and pass the then-current Registration Examination or meet continuing education requirements (see information below).
  • All RAs are responsible for maintaining continuing education records used for the Application.
  • Complete the renewal form.
  • List all continuing education activities.
  • Pay the $325 renewal fee.
  • Download your Reregistration Application here:http://www.ptcny.com/clients/ARC/#Reregistration%20Information

To remain eligible for RA registration with continuing education requirements, remember that:

  • 100 contact hours are equal to 100 actual continuing education hours.
  • Hours must be provided by any approved educational body or organization, or by a NAHA- or AIA-approved school or educator.
  • Training in Raindrop Therapy or Raindrop Technique does not count as this is not approved as a safe administration method by ARC.

Here are some options for completing your continuing education requirement. All events must be related to aromatherapy:

  • Workshops
  • Seminars
  • Professional development offerings
  • Online or on-campus courses
  • State or national conferences
  • The preparation and presentation of a professional education topic relevant to aromatherapy
  • An original article written by the candidate and published in a professional journal such as the International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy (IJPHA)

arc_logo

Aromatherapists have been taking the Registration Examination since its inception, and the number of Registered Aromatherapists (RA) continues to grow, even spreading across the globe. There are RAs in China, France, Hong Kong, Singapore Japan, Korea, and the United States.

At the American College, students from all over the world have successfully completed their ACHS aromatherapy program and passed the ARC Examination and received the “RA” distinction. In fact, ACHS Aromatherapy graduates have a 100% success rate over five-years (2009-2013).

There are tremendous benefits to becoming a Registered Aromatherapist (RA). This credential helps reinforce a standard of excellence and safety in the profession of aromatherapy, and I am encouraged that more and more aromatherapists join the registry each year.

This post first appeared on the blog of the American College of Healthcare Sciences on January 29, 2015. Reprinted with permission.

Dorene Petersen is the Founder, President, CEO, and Principal of the American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS). She has over 35 years clinical teaching and lecturing experience in aromatherapy and other holistic health subjects. She has presented papers on essential oils and clinical aromatherapy at the International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades Annual Conference (IFEAT) in California, USA; the Aroma Environment Association of Japan (AEAJ) in Tokyo, Japan; the Asian Aroma Ingredients Congress (AAIC) and Expo in Bali, Indonesia; the International Center of Advanced Aromatherapy (ICAA) at the WonGwang Digital University in Seoul, Korea; as well as the AAIC Expo in Kunming, Yunnan, China. Dorene currently serves as Chair of the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC), and she is also active with the Distance Education Training Council (DETC). Dorene is a travel junkie, and she hopes you will join her for the ACHS Study Abroad Program in Indonesia and India in 2015!

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

 

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]: www.nmcaamp.org.

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: http://www.naha.org/bookstore/nahas-aromatherapy-journal-summer-2014.2

[1] National Health Freedom Coalition (NHFC). (2012). Mission and Case Statement. Retrieved from http://www.nationalhealthfreedom.org/aboutNHFC/mission_statement.html

[2] You can learn more about this organization on their website at http://aromatherapycouncil.org/

[3] Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC). (2011). Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from http://aromatherapycouncil.org/?page_id=75

[4] National Health Freedom Coalition. (2012). Mission and Case Statement. Retrieved from http://www.nationalhealthfreedom.org/aboutNHFC/mission_statement.html

[5] You can learn more about the National Health Freedom Coalition at: http://www.nationalhealthfreedom.org

[6] Unlicensed Health Care Practice Act HHGAC/HB 664 Retrieved from The National Health Freedom Coalition (NHFC), Health Freedom Laws Passed: http://www.nationalhealthfreedom.org/documents/NewMexicoHB0664_2009.pdf

[7] Ibid.

[8] 2005 Louisiana Revised Statutes 20-37 VI-B. Retrieved from Louisiana State Legislature: http://www.legis.la.gov/legis/Law.aspx?d=321645

[9] Chapter 146A. Complementary and Alternative Health Care Practices. Retrieved from 2013 Minnesota Statues: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=146A

[10] Relating to Health and Safety – Unlicensed Health Care Practices. Retrieved from State of Rhode Island General Assembly: http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText02/HouseText02/H6719a.pdf

[11] 2001 California SB577 – California Complementary and Alternative Health Care Practitioners. Retrieved from legalinfo.ca.gov: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/01-02/bill/sen/sb_0551-0600/sb_577_bill_20020923_chaptered.html

[12] Unlicensed Health Care Practice Act HHGAC/HB 664 Retrieved from The National Health Freedom Coalition (NHFC), Health Freedom Laws Passed: http://www.nationalhealthfreedom.org/documents/NewMexicoHB0664_2009.pdf

[13] New Mexico Complimentary and Alternative Medicine Project LLC (NMCAAMP) Check list for creating the ‘Patient Information Document’ Retrieved from http://www.nmcaamp.org/downloads/6_PatientInfoChecklist20090619a.pdf

[14] Oberholtz, C. & Rittman, E. (2014, February 20). KCTV5. Missouri woman seeks bill to support alternative medicine. Retrieved from http://www.kctv5.com/story/24767135/missouri-woman-seeks-bill-to-support-alternative-medicine

[15] National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA). (2014). Code of Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.naha.org/membership/code-of-ethics/

[16] Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA). (2014). Code of Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org/aromatherapy/code-of-ethics/

[17]Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC). (2014). About. Retrieved from http://aromatherapycouncil.org/?page_id=195

[18] Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC). (2014). About. Retrieved from http://aromatherapycouncil.org/docs/ARC_DISCIPLINARY_POLICY2004.pdf