Best Practices: Aromatherapy

The practice of aromatherapy is now popular, widespread, and at times controversial. Usage advice varies greatly depending upon the source. One source may claim routine use of undiluted essential oils on the skin of babies is safe and natural, others claim the same practice could lead to fatal consequences. How can anyone be expected to discern safe and effective usage given all the contradictory advice in social media?

Choose Wisely

First, it is prudent to always choose the least invasive method and product which is both effective and safe for the individual. This is the first principle in the Wellness Creed.

Second, what is the source of the recommendation? What level of education, experience, and integrity is attributed to the information source? Do they really know everything needful for making this recommendation?  Find a qualified aromatherapist through the Aromatherapy Registration Council, Alliance of International Aromatherapists, or National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists.  These professional bodies exist to help the consumer.

Third, is the recommendation individualized? Aromatherapy is highly personal. For example, Mentha x piperita (peppermint) is well known and oft used to ease nausea, however, some people can not tolerate it. There are often better options for a vulnerable population or for an individual. In my experience, I have found that some people do better with Elettaria cardamomum (cardamom), Foeniculum vulgare (fennel), or Anethum graveolens (dill) aroma-inhalers for nausea relief. Wholistic aromatherapy is not a this-for-that, it is about matching the remedy to the person, not the symptom. Marguerite Maury’s “individual prescription” is a cornerstone in the practice of aromatherapy.*

In conclusion, best practices in aromatherapy will follow these three principles:

  • Least invasive, safe, effective method and product
  • Qualified information source
  • Individualized remedy

By adhering to these three guidelines, it is possible to separate the wheat from the chaff, making wise decisions about essential oil use and not falling prey to fear-mongering.

*Aromatherapists do not diagnose, treat, nor prescribe. Marguerite Maury was a pioneer in aromatherapy who taught what she called the “individual prescription” embodying the holistic principle of a remedy being specifically formulated for a particular individual to promote wellbeing.

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