By: Ellen Brenner, Certified Aromatherapist
With another new year, we are excited to launch an entirely new blog series! As you may know, we are not only passionate about essential oils, we are passionate about education and educated use.
The mainstream use of essential oils continues to explode. Holy cow, I was in a major, national department store chain over the holidays and ran smack into a display of diffusers and essential oils in the fragrance section as a seasonal offering. Yep! If this iconic store has jumped on the bandwagon (let alone other big box stores), essential oils have reached a new level of exposure.
But, here’s the thing. I feel there is a huge disconnect happening with essential oils from aromatherapy. From that potent little powerhouse we see as drops from the bottle and the nature of how it got there. And, from safe, appropriate use to anything goes.
When I got started in aromatherapy in the late 1990’s, aromatherapists generally purchased their essential oils from a few, reputable, boutique suppliers. The aromatherapists and suppliers knew their way around the best use of essential oils for their intended therapeutic outcomes.
The few home enthusiasts could find some good solid brands, with a selection of a few oils, at health food stores and places “hippies” hung out. Many times, these supplies were also displayed with featured “how to” books written by reputable leaders in the field.
My very first guide book was “Aromatherapy: A Holistic Guide to Natural Healing with Essential Oils” by Valerie Cooksley, RN who is still widely recognized as an aromatherapy educator and leader today. I still have her book, originally published in 1996, though it is dog-eared, splattered, marked up and has pages falling out.
My new very favorite resource is “The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy — 25th Anniversary Edition,” by Valerie Ann Worwood. The aromatherapy team reviewed this updated and revised version and loved is so very much, Plant Therapy is now offering it through their bookstore (and I made sure my own mom got it). This is a fantastic guide for beginners and seasoned practitioners alike.
Our aromatherapy team loves sharing our knowledge with you and will continue to do so. As our community continues to grow, and Plant Therapy continues to grow, one thing has become clear. Folks are hungry to learn. We hear you and, as always, we want to be responsive. And, we want to honor that appetite for learning.
And, we believe it is time to get back to basics. Many of you are new, many are home enthusiasts, and many just want to keep expanding your horizons. Having access to safe recipes is a great way to get started. But, many of you want to branch out and grow. And, we want to encourage you to plant a foundation so you feel confident to move from memorization to exploration. To understand the how and why of safe and appropriate use and well as have the confidence to create your own blends.
If you haven’t had a chance to read “The Wonderful Wide World of Aromatherapy,” please start with this blog. It is actually the prequel to launching this series and it launched one lucky winner to the opportunity for formal aromatherapy education at the Aromahead Institute.
We realize not everyone has that opportunity, nor may not be ready just yet. We recognize that many in our community are at various levels of their essential oil and aromatherapy journey. We hope each of you finds something essential to your education.
By no means is this meant to be a replacement for formal classes in aromatherapy education, nor reading essential oil educational and reference books, but rather a supportive nudge toward new knowledge with a basis in safe and appropriate use for the home enthusiasts.
So, here is the basis for this blog series. Our intention is to:
- Discuss how to use essential oils within the wide world of aromatherapy.
- Distill down some basic, essential education into blogs with bite-sized bits of beneficial information.
- Instill the confidence to take the next steps in learning from memorization to exploration.
- Provide a synergy of info from topics such as using specific essential oils, to how to best use them, to simple ways to blend.
Getting to Know Your Essential Oils — Part 1
To get started, the first thing I would like to encourage is simply to get to know your oils. This is an exercise to not only instill confidence and competence, but also to connect us with the nature from which they come rather than the bottle from which they drop.
If you have a large collection, you might wish to start with your top 5 or 10. Or, start with those you with which you are not familiar. You may have some new additions to your collection. Or, you can even go back and test yourself to see what you know and if there is more to learn. But, start with a few at a time.
This may seem overly simplistic at first, but it is the very first thing I do when I get a new oil with which I have little or no experience. And, I have received several lately, so I will be doing this along with you.
You will find attached a printable worksheet as a guide for the basic knowledge for each oil. Even if I have print outs from other sources, the act of writing things down helps the info to stick to my brain. Or, you can use this as inspiration for creating your own worksheet for a binder or your computer files.
But, just sit with your oils. Don’t worry about blends, or creating. Just be and breathe with them. Get to know them as good and trusted friends. Open the bottle and put a drop on a cotton ball or fragrance test strip.
Get to know their smell, what part of the plant they came from, how they were extracted, and what their best uses are. The worksheet will guide you through the exercise. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers at first. The blanks will show you what you still need to research and learn. You can get basic information from the Plant Therapy website and blogs. And, you can find more detailed information in books by reputable aromatherapy educators such as those listed above.
I hope you will enjoy creating these inventory worksheets for future reference while you create a deeper relationship with your oils.
In the meantime, I look forward to meeting you back here for next steps in getting to know our oils!