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The Competent Aromatherapy Consultation

By: Jimm Harrison
Posted: March 28, 2011, from the April 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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The properties derived from essential oils are a result of their chemical structure. A working knowledge of the chemical compounds, their molecular groupings and their properties is necessary to increase your abilities as an aromatherapist and is employed in a competent aromatherapy consultation.

The Structure-Effect Diagram, as seen in the figures posted to the right of this text, charts the compounds according to their electropositive and electronegative charges, and their polarity, which relates to the essential oil compound’s affinity with water. The charge and polarity of the individual compounds create a guide to the therapeutic properties associated with the compounds and the oils that contain them. Figure 1 shows the properties of the molecular family groupings, and Figure 2 places symptoms and conditions related to skin over the area—or molecular groupings—most suited to treating the conditions. The families and some of the compounds found in lavender are shown in Figure 3.

The molecular family groupings are situated on the chart, giving a visual presentation of the properties associated with them. The more electronegative the molecule, the more calming it is; electropositive compounds are stimulating. The polarity of the molecule is referred to as the wet and dry tendency of the compound. This simplistic definition of the Structure-Effect Diagram only hints to its potential as a valuable means to the successful and accurate use of essential oils. When used with a competent consultation, your selection and choice of essential oils will become finely tuned, making the most of the oils’ multifunctional capabilities.

From symptoms to the big picture

Your competent aromatherapy consultation will take you from symptom management to bringing balance to your client’s whole system. This approach defines holistic therapy. Because the essential oils are multifunctional remedies, they will, by their nature, provide treatment beyond symptom management. The beauty in this is that you will address potential imbalances and the causes of symptoms of which you may not have been aware. During your consultation, you will be focused on the big picture, the holistic model. Environment, diet, lifestyle and emotional state are just the starting points of a thorough consultation.

The holistic consultation

A holistic consultation can be expansive and designed to address every “why” that relates to a symptom. Commonly overlooked areas of a consultation form may provide clues to understanding why there is, for example, an acneic condition that may be related to inflammation caused by stress. In this situation, your expertise and study of essential oils leads you to choose cedarwood, and its compound, cedrol, for autonomic system balance, as well as frankincense, with sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, for inflammation. The complex chemical structure of both oils addresses many other symptoms and skin conditioning related to skin eruptions, as well.