The journey of a lifetime may begin with an idea, an effort to learn, and a step towards achieving a goal. Perhaps you are taking that first step now, perhaps you took it a while ago – either way, you are traveling down an exciting road!
So, what is this journey? What is aromatherapy? A comprehensive definition can be found on the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) website: “Aromatherapy, also referred to as Essential Oil therapy, can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit. It seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process.”
If you are like me, you were raised to believe that plants, herbs, and essential oils were just a bunch of nonsense or ‘snake oil’ and any perceived benefits were all imagined. I took my first step three years ago. My daughter insisted that I try one of the MLM company's blends for my arthritis. After several months, I finally relented and put a tiny amount on my finger. She was watching and said “No, Mom, let me do it for you.” and proceeded to slather it all over my hands. At the time, I had been in a severe flare-up for weeks – barely able to move my fingers, and I did not believe the oil blend would work. Ten minutes later, the swelling was reduced, the pain level was lowering, and I regained full use of my hands.
Direct experience with something is a really good way to change someone’s mind – and my opinion of essential oils (and plant therapy) did a 180 that day. I asked my daughter to order a bottle for me, and while I gasped at the price, I paid it and happily used the oil. Being a recently retired teacher, I decided to start researching essential oils – I wanted to see if I could create my own blends for a lower price. Hence, my journey began with a change of mind and a new idea. Then I began to learn. For the next six weeks, I spent between six and eight hours a day studying and learning (mostly from different websites), before I ever bought an oil. When I was ready to buy, I had five oils I wanted to try: Lavender, Tea Tree, Helichrysum, Wintergreen, and Frankincense. These were a good starting point for my experiments and I took the first step when I purchased them.
My daughter discovered that a local RN was offering classes on EO safety and basics, so we signed up for a total of 3 three-hour classes. That turned out to be a great decision because neither of us had any idea that there could be safety issues with essential oils. What I learned in those classes gave me a more specific direction to focus my self-study. I would read blogs from do-it-yourself ‘ers to get ideas for making home products, then go to informational websites to research oils that were new to me. Because of the safety class I took, I would check to see if there were any safety concerns for whatever oil I was researching. If I thought the safety concerns were more than I was ready to deal with, I would put that oil on a ‘not now’ list. If the oil had GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) status and had proven therapeutic benefits that I was looking for, it would go on my ‘want to buy’ list.
The more I researched and experimented with making my own blends and seeing the benefits of those blends, the more I realized that I needed more formal training. I enrolled in Aromahead Institute School of Essential Oil Studies and earned my Aromatherapy Certification. (I’ll go into more detail about the excellence of Aromahead and what they offer in a future blog.) I am continuing my studies with plans to achieve graduate level, and eventually complete the scholar’s program. In addition, I've become fascinated by the plants themselves, and have started studying herbs as well.
My goal for this website is to discuss specific essential oils and their corresponding herbs. These discussions will include traditional therapeutic benefits as well as safety factors with recipes and "how to"s included.
Whether you've been using it for years or are new to it, please share how you started your journey in aromatherapy.