As aromatherapy and the use of essential oils grow so does the amount of advice that isn’t always the best. When I first started using essential oils almost 20 years ago I made my own mistakes, I am also blessed that I never experienced any adverse reactions or became sensitized. I knew to dilute the oils because they are a strong concentration of plant material, but I didn’t know all the details. Dilution is the key to using them safely and obtaining their true therapeutic properties.
I knew to only use a few drops, but I didn’t know about diluting them in a proper carrier. One of my favorite oils 20 years ago was rosemary. My son often suffered from respiratory issues and while reading Valerie Ann Worwood’s book The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy (the 1st edition) I learned that rosemary may help. A few things that I didn’t realize were rosemary essential oils have different chemotypes which dictate the proper use. There are cautions that should be taken with each chemotype. I also didn’t know about the proper carriers, I would often give him a bath with Epsom salts and just a few drops of rosemary. My common sense should have screamed oil and water don’t mix. To properly dilute essential oils for a bath you must use something like, coconut oil or milk (a fat) to help disperse the rosemary in the bath water.
In today’s world of meme’s and photos providing us our education many details are missed. When it comes to using essential oils and herbs a meme can not properly provide cautions. These tidbits of information and lack of information are causing increased injuries from the improper use of essential oils.
My mantra now is dilute, dilute, dilute! Whether I am working with people or animals it is important to dilute the essential oils and make sure that you are using a carrier that will disperse the oils correctly.
There are over 30 different species of oregano. In the herbal world oregano and marjoram are interchangeable. When it comes to essential oils less than 10 varieties of oregano are utilized with Origanum vulgare being the most commonly found variety for sale. The oil is created by steam distilling the leaves and flower upper portion of the plant. It has a strong camphoraceous, spicy, herbaceous fragrance.
Many trained aromatherapist will turn to this oil to assist with respiratory discomforts. Properly diluted the oil can improve circulation and reduce pain. The essential oil is high in phenols, specifically carvacrol. Some of the therapeutic benefits of phenols include antibacterial, antifungal, antitoxic and disinfectant. In The Essential Guide to Aromatherapy and Vibrational Healing author Margaret Ann Lembo breaks down some of the positive emotional and mental uses of this oil. She mentions it helping with mental imbalances and possibly alleviating some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. “With its strong medicinal aroma, oregano helps shake out feelings of weakness and hopelessness.” (pg. 161)
Oregano is considered a hot oil and lends its therapeutic benefits to the respiratory and digestive system. It is beneficial for loosening mucus in respiratory concerns, but if not used properly can also damage mucus membranes. The essential oil does have a variety of safety precautions including avoidance during pregnancy or breastfeeding. The recommended topical use is 1.1% (Tisserand and Young pg. 375-376) due to the possibility of skin irritation. Ensuring that oregano is properly diluted in a good carrier oil and combined with skin nourishing oils will help with successful use.
Much of my work at a farm animal rescue has been with smaller animals; rabbits and chickens. Since oregano is a strong oil that can cause mucus membrane damage I don’t feel that it would be safe with these small sensitive animals. As I mentioned in my article about use with chickens a cleaning spray could be created to clean out an area after illness. I prefer to use the whole plant as a combination of greens for a treat. This provides the animals with similar therapeutic benefits and without the safety concerns.
Aromatherapist, Certified Aromatherapist, Clinically Certified Aromatherapist or Aromatherapy Practitioner. The amount of titles available regarding training is almost as high as the number of essential oils you can purchase. In the United States, the use of essential oils is a loosely regulated industry. Mainly focusing on the use of essential oils as a fragrance generally in cosmetics.
An aromatherapist is a person that has invested in an extensive course of study. Generally, 200 or more hours is required before receiving a certificate of completion. These courses require detailed study covering topics such as chemistry, anatomy and safety. As well as the emotional and energetic properties of the plant material. Generally, they will also cover the FDA regulations and provide information about the limitations.
According to Learn.org “Aromatherapists are alternative healers who use essential oils to promote healing and wellness. They meet with patients to discuss their symptoms and health goals, and they develop treatment plans based on their needs.” An important note regarding this definition, unless the person also has medical training they will not view you as a patient. Many aromatherapists study essential oils and other holistic healing modalities due to challenges they experienced from the traditional “allopathic” medical field. Many times, aromatherapy will be an added modality to a practice such as massage therapy, cosmetology, or even nursing.
Although unregulated, a license is not required in the US, both the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists (NAHA) and the Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) have worked to establish some educational guidelines. These ensure people operate with safety and ethics in mind. So, if you are interested in exploring the incredibly diverse nature of essential oils do some research into who can guide you safely. AromaWeb has a great guide of questions to ask anyone suggesting you use essential oils.
Over the last several decades we have seen the emergence of marketers utilizing fragrance to sell products. Also, the emergence of several large multi-level marketing companies selling essential oils. This growth has made aromatherapy a recognizable term. The down side is most don’t know what it truly means.
The term aromatherapy came about in 1937 when Rene-Maurice Gattefosse used it in his book “Gattefosse’s Aromatherapy“. At that time, the term was used to describe the use of essential oils for their therapeutic actions. An essential oil is the aromatic essence of the plant that is generally extracted through steam distillation. They are highly concentrated so a little goes a long way. A true essential oil will offer valuable psychological and physical benefits. To learn more visit AromaWeb.
“Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same” Helen Keller
Throughout my study of aromatherapy for both people and animals my definition has expanded to include the use of fragrant plant materials in many forms. When using essential oils topically we are always combining them into a plant based carrier, such as coconut oil. Hydrosols or hydrolats have taken up much of my aroma tool kit due to their gentle nature. I am also constantly turning to herbal preparations and flower essences to help my clients.
As more practitioners are studying the safe and effective uses for essential oils we are learning that there are other options. Beyond the essential oils we also have absolutes, CO2s and hydrosols. The carriers that are used to dilute essential oils also carry therapeutic properties and many have a wonderful fragrance on their own. So for me aromatherapy is no longer just about essential oils, but about combining many aromatic plant materials.
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”
I have taken a lot of time off from my blog. I dedicating 2015 to receiving certification training in aromatherapy. In December 2015 I became a Certified Aromatherapist. This journey also had me studying herbs and a variety of natural healing methods. We are blessed to live in a time when some many options are available. I plan to share the benefits of practices like yoga and meditation which have become daily rituals. I have been learning about the importance of balancing everything around us. This helps to ensure that we balance what is in us.
The first 6 months of 2016 has been dedicated to starting my aromatherapy practice. Finding a structure that fits within my family life while being an entrepreneur. I enjoy teaching workshops focused on the wide array of uses for essential oils. My teachings also contain information about the safety considerations and the environmental impact of harvesting plants for essential oils.
For the remainder of 2016 I plan to continue growing my workshop offerings, and working with people one on one. I enjoy helping people explore essential oils without having to invest large amounts of money in oils they may not love. If you are considering booking a workshop feel free to contact me or fill out this form. I am looking forward to continuing my education and research and sharing much of that knowledge on my blog.