There is no substitute for quality!
Always demand the best in everything you do.
This is especially true in any area which may
impact your health and safety.
Always ask for a
Registered Aromatherapist (RA)/
Essential Oil Therapist—EOT®
There are many practitioners using aromatherapy as part of their treatment programs who have not taken adequate training in aromatherapy and cannot guarantee that they are a practitioner
has a quality aromatherapy education in a program that meets or exceeds the core curriculum requirements set by the BCAOA.
belongs to an association which sets standards in ethics, standards of practice and continuing education;
belongs to an association to which clients, members of the public and members of the association may direct concerns or complaints about ethical or performance issues within the professional scope of practice.
belongs to an association which will provide members and the general public, assistance with aromatherapy issues on request;
belongs to an association that has been granted the occupational title designation by the Province of British Columbia.
A Holistic Complementary Therapy
Aromatherapy is a holistic complementary therapy working on the mind, body and spirit. The natural oils (essential oils) extracted from the flowers, barks, roots, leaves and stems of a plant are used to enhance physical & psychological wellbeing.
Inhalation of Essential Oils
The inhalation of the essential oils stimulates the part of the brain connected to the sense of smell and sends a signal to the limbic system that controls emotions and retrieves memories, both pleasant & traumatic.
How it helps Mood and Emotions
Aromatherapy can help in many ailments, especially those connected to mood and emotions, such as anxiety, depression, grief, and also digestion, pain, insomnia, high blood pressure.
Other ailments include allergies, headaches, menstrual problems and many more.
In an aromatherapy treatment, essential oils are applied by massage and are absorbed through the skin in the same way hormone replacement and nicotine patches work.
It is the combined effect of the oils with the gentle relaxing massage which brings about best results.
Types of Aromatherapy
Aesthetic, Holistic, Psychoaromatherapy & Medical Aromatherapy
Aesthetic Aromatherapy Massage
Is offered in Beauty salons, and often uses ready blended oils (which may be pure essential oils but can sometimes be synthetic).
Aesthetic Aromatherapy is about pleasure. The use of perfumes, scented bath soaps, and incense sticks are the use of Aesthetic Aromatherapy which can give both pleasure and comfort
Is defined as "the therapeutic application or the medicinal use of aromatic substances (essential oils) for holistic healing."
Often in France and other areas of Europe, aromatherapy is incorporated into mainstream medicine more so than in the UK, USA or Canada. In fact, there are some essential oils that are regulated as prescription drugs in France, and can only be prescribed by a doctor.
the therapist considers all parts of the patient- the mind, body, and spirit. Holistic Aromatherapy involves "supporting" a client. It is often offered by bodyworkers, who may or may not know much about the chemistry of the essential oils or the pathologic conditions for which they are appropriate.
These therapists are not "treating" the client so much as supporting other treatments the client may be receiving, which can be either orthodox medical care or alternative complementary therapies." Holistic Aromatherapy utilizes the pharmacological, psychotherapeutic and metaphysical properties of essential oils.
Concerns the ways smell or odours affect our brains by influencing the production of endorphins and noradrenaline. Whether we realize it or not, our entire life is affected by smell.
All forms of aromatherapy have been around for hundreds of years. They are definitely not "New Age." Despite the explosion of products on the market that include the word aromatherapy on their labels, the use of essential oils in products is not new. Only the use of their laboratory-produced synthetic copies is a recent development."
Excerpt from the book Clinical Aromatherapy - Essential Oils in Practice, 2nd edition by Dr. Jane Buckle
History of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy dates back as far as 6000 years
Although the term aromatherapy ("aroma" meaning fragrance, and "therapy" meaning treatment) wasn’t used until the 20th Century.
The ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks and Romans all have documented the use of oils, resins and herbs.
Various papyrus documents date 2890 BC show the ancient Egyptians were using aromatics for medicinal and cosmetic purposes, as well as for religious rituals and embalming. It was believed that certain smells could raise higher consciousness or promote a state of tranquillity. They used the fragrant oils from plants to make pills, powders, suppositories, medicinal cakes and purees, ointments and pastes.
In Mesopotamia, Babylonian doctors recorded their formulas and prescriptions on clay tablets.
Ancient Chinese Aromatherapy
The ancient Chinese were using some form of aromatherapy around the same time as the Egyptians. Herbs and burned aromatic woods and incense were used to show their respect to God. The oldest surviving medical book in China, (dated around 2,700BC, written by Shen Nung) contains cures involving over three hundred different aromatic herbs. The text suggests the ancient Chinese may even have preceded the Egyptians in their use and knowledge of plant-based medicines.
Although other civilizations in India and the Americas were also using aromatics, it seems those in the Middle East and China that have actually left us the best records.
The Greeks acquired much of their knowledge from the Egyptians and continued to use aromatic oils for medicines and cosmetics. The earliest known Greek physician was Asclepius who practiced around 1200 BC combining the use of herbs & surgery with great skill. After his death, he was deified as the god of healing in Greek mythology.
Hippocrates (400 BC), revered as the "Father of Medicine", mentions a vast number of medicinal plants in his writings and was the first to study the effects of essential oils. He believed that a daily aromatic bath and scented massage would promote good health. Hippocrates placed great importance on the moral qualities needed to be a doctor, such as discernment, self-effacement and devotion. He was the first physician to dismiss the Egyptian belief that illness was caused by supernatural forces. Instead, he believed a doctor should aim to discover natural explanations for disease by observing the patient carefully and make a judgment only after consideration of the symptoms. He believed that surgery should be used only as a last resort and considered the entire body a single organism. Therefore we have Hippocrates to thank for a concept which is fundamental to true aromatherapy - that of holism/holistic.
Theophrastus, a Greek physician & philosopher, and student of Aristotle investigated everything about plants and even how scents affected the emotions. He wrote several volumes on botany including 'The History of Plants', which became one of the three most important botanical science references and is referred to as the Founder of Botany.
Many Greek doctors were employed by Roman emperors as military surgeons and personal physicians. Galen was a physician to Marcus Aurelius and there are records stating that no gladiator died of his wounds during Galen’s term of office. At the time Rome was thriving and was an ideal place for him to conduct further research. Galen wrote over 400 treatises, of which 83 are still in existence including 'De Simplicibus' which described the plant, its geographical location and its various medicinal uses, which are still known as Galenic. He also invented cold cream which was the prototype of virtually all ointments in current use.
Another Greek doctor under Nero, Pedacius Dioscorides, collected medicinal plants from many Mediterranean countries and by about 78A.D he had documented the information on these plants and their uses into five huge volumes of his “Materia Medica’. This became the Western world's standard medical reference on herbal medicine, containing 1000 different botanical medications, plus descriptions and illustrations of approximately 600 different plants and aromatics. His magnificent work was so influential he has been bestowed the accolade, the Father of Pharmacology.
The works of Galen, Hippocrates and Dioscorides were transcribed into Persian and other Arabic languages, and after the fall of Rome, the surviving physicians fled to Constantinople and took their books and knowledge with them.
The first great Arab physician of whom we have detailed knowledge is Abu Bahar Muhamma ibn Zakaria-al-Razi. He wrote a medical encyclopedia covering over two dozen books on herbal medicine, entitled 'AI Kitab al Hawi', which was later translated into Latin and other European languages, and known in English as 'The Comprehensive Work'. His medical accomplishments were highly acclaimed and he had an enormous influence on European science and medicine. He also developed tools such as mortars, flasks, spatulas and phials which were used in pharmacies until the early twentieth century.
Ibn Sina, also a Persian, is probably the most famous and influential of all the great Islamic physicians and known throughout Europe as Avicenna. His life is the stuff of legend. At the age of 16 he began studying medicine and by 20 he had been appointed a court physician, earning the title 'Prince of physicians'. He wrote 20 books covering theology, metaphysics, astronomy, psychology, philosophy and poetry, and most influentially, 20 books and 100 treatises on medicine.
He introduced the all fruit diet, invented traction for broken limbs, manipulation for spinal abnormalities, and is credited with discovering distillation of essential oils. He left valuable written records describing 800 plants and their effects on the human body.
His 14-volume epic 'Al-Qanun fi al-Tibb', which means 'The Canon of Medicine' was over one million words long and contained the sum total of all existing medical knowledge. This monumental medical encyclopedia included the Hippocratic and Galenic traditions, describing Syro-Arab and Indo-Persian practice plus notes on his own observations. It became the definitive medical textbook, teaching guide and reference throughout Western Europe and the Islamic world for over seven hundred years.
The oldest surviving English manuscript of botanical medicine is the Saxon 'Leech Book of Bald', which was written between 900 and 950 by a scribe named Cild under the direction of Bald, who was a friend of King Alfred the Great. ('Leech' is an old English word meaning healer). This early text contains a mixture of herbalism, magic, shamanism and tree lore, and describes 500 plants, their properties, and how they can be used.
When the Crusaders returned from the Holy Wars they brought back rose water, perfumes, aromatics and remedies that were previously unknown. Fragrant plants became more popular, with aromatic herb garlands decorating homes and rose water is used to wash the hands of those who could afford it.
The availability and range of aromatic medicines continued to increase over the next few hundred years, with recipes being followed by women of a household and more complex remedies bought from apothecaries.
Some of the most celebrated herbals were those compiled by Gerard, Banckes and Culpeper in England, Otto Brunfels, Leonhard Fuchs and Hieronymus Bock in Germany, Nicolas Monardes in Spain, Charles de’Ecluse in France and Pietro Mattioli in Italy. Mattioli based his herbal remedies on Dioscorides and was translated into many European languages, selling 32, 000 copies making it one of the 16th Century best-sellers.
In 1597 John Gerard published "Herball", or "General Historie of Plantes" which is now considered a herbal classic and proved highly influential. The apothecaries which had previously only sold the medicines prescribed by doctors began to prepare and compound their own medicines too. New style apothecaries that dispensed medicines and attended to the patient began appearing throughout England.
Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) was one of the most influential herbalists who also introduced the concept of astrological herbalism. In his most famous work, 'The English Physician' (1652), Culpeper's descriptions of herbs, oils and their uses were intermixed with astrology.
Throughout Middle Ages and Tudor era, all forms of plant medicine were used by doctors, apothecaries and laypeople, but by 17th Century the growing science of chemistry introduced new uses of chemical substances in medicine and essential oils were gradually replaced with synthetic drugs.
A French chemist named René-Maurice Gattefossé (1881-1950) studied the medicinal properties of essential oils for many years whilst working in his family’s perfumery business. He discovered that many of the essential oils used in the products were better antiseptics than some chemical ones. He had the opportunity to personally test his innovative theories when an explosion in his laboratory caused a severe burn to his hand.
He plunged his hand into a vessel of pure lavender oil which immediately reduced the swelling and helped accelerate the healing process. Most impressively, it did not become infected and he was left with no scar. From here, he developed the use of essential oils in dermatology and was passionate in researching essential oils, which eventually led to the publication in 1937 of his ground-breaking book, 'Aromathérapie: Les Huiles Essentielles Hormones Vegetales'. He is credited with coining the word ‘Aromatherapy’.
A French doctor named Jean Valnet followed the work of Gattefossé, and during World War 2 whilst working as a surgical assistant he used essential oils to treat gangrene and battle wounds. After graduating as a surgeon at the end of the war, Valnet continued to use essential oils to treat illnesses and was the first-ever to treat psychiatric patients in hospitals. His book, 'Aromathérapie - Traitment des Maladies par Les Essence de Plantes' was released in 1964, and in 1980 translated into English under the new title of 'The Practice of Aromatherapy', becoming a classic textbook and putting aromatherapy on the English map.
Madame Marguerite Maury (1895-1968) was an Austrian born biochemist who became interested in what was to become aromatherapy, after reading a book written in 1838 by Dr. Chabenes called, 'Les Grandes Possibilités par Les Matières Odoriferantes'. This was the man who would later become the teacher of Gattefossé. Her influential book, 'Le Capital Jeunesse' was released in France in 1961 but sadly did not initially receive the acclaim that it deserved. In 1964 it was released in Britain under the title of 'The Secret of Life and Youth' and has at last been recognized for the great work that it is.
After her death, the work of Maury continued through her protege, Danièle Ryman, who is now herself considered an authority on aromatherapy. The work of Valnet and Gattefossé influenced Englishman Robert Tisserand, who in 1977 wrote the very first aromatherapy book in English entitled, 'The Art of Aromatherapy'. This book became the inspiration and reference for virtually every future author on the subject for almost two decades.
In England, America and Canada, aromatherapy is still better known as a form of beauty treatment than as a therapeutic discipline. But since the late 1970s and early 1980’s a growing number of people are becoming increasingly aware of the possibilities of essential oils & aromatherapy as a holistic medicine as it is in France and much of the Eastern world.