Interview with an aromatherapist
We interviewed one of our resident aromatherapists, Manuela, about her experiences with essential oils, how aromatherapy has changed over the years and how the everyday person can integrate aromatherapy into their life.
When did you start with aromatherapy? What drew you to it?
At the time I fell in love with aromatherapy I was the trainer for another company which was also aromatherapy based. My previous background was pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and sales, training and management, and I felt I needed to seriously study aromatherapy to complete my full understanding of the product and the culture. It was the beginning of much study within the Remedial therapies realm, but also a personal development expedition. Once you begin the journey of discovery of essential oils and how they affect the mind, body and soul you can never go back to a time when everyday life rituals and solutions to everyday issues don’t involve essential oils in some way. The attraction for me was that once you understand the individual essential oils and how they affect the body and mind, you can solve so many issues without resorting to nasty drugs and chemicals, whilst loving the experience along the way. Aromatherapy is a feel good solution to life’s woes, in every sense of the concept.
I love that the academic knowledge base that exists for aromatherapy practices are time tried and proven and generally testing is not necessary as the effects have been proven over and over again and with humanity being the way it is if something doesn’t work it doesn’t not get passed on. Evidence based medicine (modern accepted standards) also incorporates historical empirical results and practices.
There is an almost seamless overlap between the natural health modalities models that becomes apparent with further study into each modality (Aromatherapy, Reflexology, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Western herbal medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, Chakra therapy, Crystal therapy, colour therapy, Light therapy, etc..) and raises a sense of awareness that each model is not different or separate, but simply described in their own way. I loved this discovery and you will too, but I will leave that up to you. The pieces of the puzzle will become apparent along the journey.
What are your favourite essential oils and what do you use them for?
Needless to say, I have many. However, I love the aroma of vetiver, bergamot and peppermint eucalyptus as individual oils; they make me take a deep breath and smile all the way to the core. I feel that that is the one essential thing essential oils should do for you, and everyone should have a couple of go to essential oils that do just that, because when this happens your brain releases feel good hormones! We all need that on demand.
Since you started in the aromatherapy industry, what kinds of changes have you seen?
Lots! When I started studying aromatherapy back in the mid-1990s, which is so last century. Aromatherapy was booming, and aromatherapy classes were full to the brim! I went on to teach aromatherapy at university level for nine years and in that time the Health training packages changed to exclude aromatherapy in Natural Health Degrees which reduced the number of Natural Health Science students exposed to this modality of health care. Having said that, health care facilities and mainstream hospitals today use essential oils diffused in the wards more than ever before, I know because I see the orders coming in, so we must be getting somewhere in mainstream medicine acceptation on a practical level. However, there are not as many aromatherapists being trained today, unfortunately. Clinical Aromatherapy treatment practice is in danger of decline as less fully trained aromatherapists enter the industry. However, there are more products out in retail land claiming aromatherapy status, regardless of whether they are pure essential oils or not, which makes the word ‘aromatherapy’ more of a household word but may not be attached to real aromatherapy.
On a different note, real Aromatherapy has also gone down the Certified Organic road which is brilliant! Meaning that not only do we have pure essential oils available to us in the industry but we also have the Certified Organic quality oils. Making the quality of the tools we use so much more pure and effective.
Another ubiquitous change which is a major concern to me and to most trained Aromatherapist is the MLM buzz which promotes ingestion of essential oils. Any fully trained, even part trained Aromatherapist would never suggest essential oil ingestion for safety purposes. I will leave this one right there as it would go on for pages on end…
For someone who has never used aromatherapy before, where do you advise they start?
For a newbie aromatherapist, I would suggest that they begin with a few single oils that they absolutely love the aroma of, this is very important to train your brain to begin with. The oils you select will have aromas very specific to you and you need at that time and based on your previous experiences of those aromas. You will only like aromas that have a positive effect on how you feel. Forget for now the aromas you don’t like and don’t make you sing.
You will select aromas which make you feel good, this is ideal, you want to get excited when you smell it and it should make you smile and take a deep breath involuntarily. Don’t analyse your choices too much in the beginning, let your nose and brain do the choosing, and run with that. You should go home feeling so excited that you can hardly wait to get started.
Start with one essential oil, smell it while you read all about it. This will store that aroma in your brain with the information you are reading (the limbic system is the place which is responsible for memory, emotion, mood and learning). You can do this whilst smelling just the essential oil out of the bottle, or if you like the fuller experience diffuse the oil in a diffuser and have it going through the space you are in. Smelling it straight out of the bottle is stronger.
Then each time you smell that aroma you will remember all the information you read, truly!!! This can be applied to studying incredibly successfully.
Use a chosen oil for each subject you are studying, inhale it or diffuse it whilst you are working on that subject and when you have to retrieve the information you have just learned in the presence of that aroma, you can do this by smelling that essential oil. Try this in an exam situation it is magical. Use it whilst it is still legal.
To get you started I suggest trying these single oils, but remember that it is best if you love it!
Lavender for relaxation and sleep, Lemon for focus and clarity, Orange for joy and communication, Tea Tree for purifying, Rosemary for memory improvement, Geranium for balancing emotions, Peppermint for clarity and tension, Ylang Ylang for sensuality.