Once I began teaching workshops regarding aromatherapy a common question kept coming up. Can I use this with my pets? My opinion is utilizing complimentary care is always a good idea for anyone whether it is human or animal, but I honestly wasn’t sure how safe it would be to use essential oils with our animal friends.
This question has put me on a quest to understand the benefits of complementary and alternative options for our animal friends. I will always advise you to seek veterinary care, but wanted to find out a better answer. I began studying animal aromatherapy with my amazing instructor Kelly Holland Azzaro and have discovered that there are many options available.
Animal aromatherapy truly encompasses more than just the use of essential oils. As I share in my article about the definition of aromatherapy it truly is the use of aromatic plants in a variety of forms. I have been fortunate throughout my studies to work with a large variety of animals from small bunnies all the way up to large horses. Each animal brought me a deeper understanding of viewing a concern from all aspects, both internal and external. Since animals can not communicate it is important to spend some time really getting to know them.
Aromatherapy works on all levels of an animal including the physical, emotional, conditional and spiritual. Animals have a strong sense of smell, much stronger than humans so extra caution is required when using aromatherapy. They can’t tell us what they like or don’t like so being able to pay attention to the physical cues is important. I have been fortunate to volunteer at Celestial Farms, a farm animal rescue, and have really been able to learn the personality and cues of all the animals. When I work with clients I offer them a list of things to watch for. Each animal is different and will respond to holistic care differently.
Ultimately, the answer is yes, aromatherapy does work for animals*. I would advise you to take it slowly, work with a qualified holistic veterinarian or animal aromatherapist whenever possible. Always remember that this is a complimentary health care option and less is best.
Recently while I was doing some volunteer work with the farm animals a person asked my opinion about an article they had seen using Oregano essential oil with chickens. I am choosing to not share the link to the article because I do not want people to think I promote the authors suggestions. Unfortunately the article didn’t state which type of Oregano they utilized I have to assume it was Oregano vulgare.
Oregano essential oil is generally high in carvacrol and thymol. These chemical constituents lend to the possible therapeutic uses with viral infections, bacterial infections and helping with congestion. The author references investigating essential oils in the prevention of Avian flu. I did an extensive search through PubMed, one search and couldn’t find any research on Avian flu and oregano oil. Due to the therapeutic benefits with viral and bacterial infections this oil may help with prevention, as long as it was used safely and highly diluted.
For human use the oil has a recommended maximum dermal use of 1.1% and several cautions against oral use (pg. 375 & 376 Tisserand & Young 2014). Knowing these precautions I would never suggest use of this oil with chickens, simply because they are small birds with completely different systems. The only way I would use it would be during cleaning of their coop after illness and when all the chickens are removed for a period of time.
To ensure the health of your flock rather than turning to essential oils consider using the actual plant. Adding a variety of herbs to a nesting box can help deter pests, add a healthy snack and create a fresher environment. The fresh herbs will also provide vitamins and minerals which are not available from an essential oil. If you do use fresh herbs these will have to be changed frequently to avoid mold developing, if you are in a humid area consider dried herbs.
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.
I offer a wide variety of workshops to teach people about the safe and effective use of essential oils and plant materials. Participants can request information on a wide variety of topics for both humans and animals. Each workshop is $20 per person (minimum 5 people). Need more than an hour no problem we can discuss. (All supplies fees will be extra.) Simply fill out this form to request more information.