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The Language of Aromatherapy

By: Jimm Harrison
Posted: November 29, 2010, from the December 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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If you are presenting aromatherapy as a serious treatment option, consider taking classes that offer a higher educational standard to add credibility and acquire the expertise to make the most of your aromatherapy treatments and products. It is also necessary to obtain proficiency and comprehension in the selection of essential oils and aromatherapy products that are of the quality and chemical composition for therapeutic use.

Essential oils on the menu

When using essential oils for pharmaceutical-like applications, look to your state licensing board to find out how your use is governed. There are state laws that do not allow for prescribing or treating medical conditions without the proper credentials and licensing. (Author’s note: See this document from the American Academy of Dermatology’s website for more information on this topic: www.aad.org/gov/state/_doc/StateLawsChartTruthandTransparencyofProfessional Descriptions.pdf). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the health claims of retail products. The Natural Products Foundation provides guidance to how you may present health claims of your essential oil products: naturalproductsfoundation.org/index.php?src=gendocs&ref=DSHEA_Quiz&category=FoundationPrograms.

Your spa menu does not need to include any language that may propose a medical aspect to your aromatherapy treatments, and you should not prescribe essential oils for diseased or medical conditions. Stay within the familiar language of a spa, using such words as “rejuvenate,” “protect” and “detoxify.”

Fight or flight. Here’s an example of what you can do with an essential oil using valid scientific research. The fight-or-flight stress response can factor in to many inflammatory conditions and some digestive issues, as well as heart palpitations. Cedarwood essential oil is documented for its affect on autonomic nervous function, with one study concluding that when cedarwood—or, more specifically its sesquiterpene alcohol compound cedrol—was inhaled it “induced an increase in parasympathetic activity and a reduction in sympathetic activity.”1 Cedarwood is easily included into skin care formulas; it is inexpensive, is an excellent skin conditioner, adds a balanced, woody fragrance, and may reduce physiological conditions that coincide with the fight-or-flight response and the skin sensitivity, acne and inflammation that may accompany it. Cedarwood essential oil provides relief for clients’ inner tension that may be affecting outward sensitivity and inflammation.

Anti-aging. The cell-regenerative properties of essential oils are one of aromatherapy’s skin care highlights. Essential oil of helichrysum and rosemary chemotype verbenone have been used successfully in combination with the fixed oil of rosehip seeds to help reduce scarring, wrinkles and fine lines. Other oils that are used for these anti-aging effects are frankincense, patchouli and carrot seed. Frankincense, sandalwood and the Brazilian copaiba oil not only support healthy skin, but also have documented results in preventing and reversing UV damage and melanoma.2–5

The use of positive language