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Industry Professionals

Ask the Panel: Top 5 Essential Oils for Beginners

“I am just starting out with essential oils and I have no idea what to buy first. Could you recommend an assortment of 4 or 5 oils that you think would get me off to a great start?” This is one of the questions I am often asked as an aromatherapist, so I thought I would compile a list of the professional panel’s answer to this question here for you. Feel free to share it with friends who might find it useful. =)

Which 5 essential oils would you include in a beginner's starter kit? Let me know in the comments section at the end of this blog post.


Sweet Orange, Lavender, Tea tree, Siberian fir, Peppermint Andrea Butje

I would include Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Mandarin (Citrus nobilis), Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) and Peppermint (Mentha x piperita). The saying ‘if in doubt use lavender’ is, in the main, true. True Lavender has a wide range of therapeutic effects. It is analgesic, anti-bacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, sedative, cardiotonic and hypotensive. It is best known for its stress-relieving properties, treating headaches, burns, wounds, irregular periods, asthma, eczema, acne, candida, aches and pains and high blood pressure. in a starter kit it can be safe to use on most people and most conditions so no mistakes are likely! Use 4 drops for a massage to help relieve stress and anxiety. Mandarin is antispasmodic, calming, digestive and hepatic. It is used for stomach cramps and spasms, indigestion and constipation, as a liver tonic and for excitability. Best of all, as a beginner's oil, mandarin can be used with children for restlessness and insomnia. Just one drop of oil on a tissue near the crib can help to send baby off to calm sleep. Roman Chamomile is anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, calming, digestive and menstrual. It is used in particular, to address eczema, arthritis, inflamed skin, headaches, indigestion, menopausal symptoms and conjunctivitis. A soothing massage using almond oil with 4 drops of this oil can really help to calm eczema and dermatitis, and is also useful for allergic reactions. Geranium is antiseptic and antiviral. It is most often used for childhood ailments (chickenpox, mumps, measles, common cold), but is also useful in other viral situations, such as herpes or shingles. Geranium helps to reduce breast congestion, fluid retention and cellulite, as well as menopausal and menstrual problems, so this oil is popular with most women. For skincare, geranium oil is regenerative and moisturizing. Peppermint has a wide range of therapeutic uses and is very useful in a starter kit. The oil is analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-migraine, antispasmodic, antiviral and digestive. It is used for painful situations such as period pain, arthritis, headaches and knocks, while also being very calming for the digestive system. Use diluted peppermint next time you knock yourself where it hurts and feel the pain disappear! Please remember that all essential oils should be used with care, and if there are doubts about how to use them, a trained aromatherapist should be consulted.Penny Price

Lavandula angustifolia, Citrus sinensis, Melaleuca alternifolia, Pelargonium asperum, Boswellia carterii - Rhiannon Lewis

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), spearmint (Mentha spicata), and ginger (Zingiber officinale) Sharon Falsetto

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis), steam distilled Lemon (Citrus limon), Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides). These have the least safety precautions and have so many good uses. - Robin B. Kessler

It REALLY depends on who is the beginner. A young mom with young children? Someone concerned about skincare? An older person dealing with chronic pain? There is no one size fits all recommendation. Having said that, lets start with an effective antibacterial - most folks would say Tea tree, but I would prefer Manuka (gentler, aromatically softer, and, in my experience, more effective across the board.) Other effective germkillers are Geranium and even Palmarosa. A relaxant: perhaps a true Lavender, but perhaps Roman Chamomile or Sweet Marjoram, or even Petitgrain. (All are calming, relaxing, may help induce sleep, and are "child safe.") Third, some citrus for freshening the air and uplifting the spirit. Sweet or Blood Orange have a wide range of uses. Fourth, something for respiratory effects, perhaps Eucalyptus globulous or radiata for stuffy noses with an adult, but if the house has babies and/or toddlers I would suggest a conifer, instead. Not as effective, but perhaps more appropriate. Let's say Siberian Fir but your choice of conifers would do. That's four categories; we have done germkillers, relaxants/anti-insomnia, a citrus for mood elevation and "clearing the air", something to unstuff clogged sinuses... let's look at something not normally considered a 'beginners' oil, but, in my experience, the single most healing oil in our aromatherapy arsenal... Helichrysum italicum from Corsica. Amazing for bruises, anti-inflammatory for nerve and joint pain, helpful for problem skin (we use in blends for acne and rosacea), amazing healing for scars, sometimes used for meditation, it's an oil that is well worth splurging on. I would not be without it, and would rather see people invest in amazingly effective oils than some that are less costly, but also less effective. Having said all that.. if someone is dealing with a LOT of pain... I would want them to have Kunzea ambigua, from Australia, the most effective pain reliever I have found. If there are babies in the house, I would want German Chamomile in there, it's one of the first three oils for use with babies and toddlers. So there is truly no one size fits all list.  - Marge Clark

Cajeput, Sweet Marjoram, Orange, Blue Tansy, Vetiver – Ken Miller

For the perfect starter kit, I'd consider a person's lifestyle. Do they have kids? Allergies or other health concerns? Are they athletic, with muscle or joint overuse? The all-purpose list below includes popular multitasking oils distilled from different plant parts that blend well together, while addressing issues we all deal with: colds and flu, muscle or joint aches/pains, relaxation and sleep, focus and concentration, or skin care. I've selected affordable oils that are not over-harvested. Note: "kid-friendly" = safe for kids ages 2 and up (if conservative, 5 and up), unless otherwise stated.
1. Cedarwood (I prefer
Cedrus deodara or Juniperus virginiana) - calming/grounding, respiratory congestion, muscle tension, astringent, hair and skin care, good in bug sprays. Kid-friendly.
2. Eucalyptus globulus - energizing, supports mental focus, respiratory infections, congestion and mucus, aches and pains, headaches. Avoid for kids under 5, caution for kids under 10 (instead, try Rosalina or a conifer such as Siberian Fir).
3. Lavender - deeply calming/soothing, supports sleep, aches and pains, spasms/cramps, antiseptic, great for skin care and burns/bites. Kid-friendly.
4. Sweet Orange - uplifting and cheering, antiseptic, supports immunity, helps digestion or nausea, sore muscles, freshens air. Kid-friendly, a non-phototoxic citrus.
5. Tea Tree - uplifting, helpful for allergies, respiratory infections, general anti-infectious and immune support, skin eruptions or minor cuts, freshens musty air. Kid-friendly.
Michelle Gilbert

1. Lavender
2. Lemon
3. Peppermint
4. Tea Tree
5. Helichrysum Amy Emnett

Lavender, lemon, tea tree, peppermint, and ginger – Lora Cantele

Lavender, bergamot, eucalyptus, frankincense, and tea tree. - Nyssa Hanger

My own Top 5 list for beginners would include: Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis), Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), Peppermint (Mentha x piperita), and either Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana) or Rose Geranium (Pelargonium asperum).

I hope these valuable answers from this panel of professional aromatherapists and aromatherapy educations have been a help to you. Feel free to pin this post for later use or share it with friends who might also find it valuable.

Which 5 essential oils would you include in a starter kit for beginners? let me know in the comments section at the end of this blog post.

Much love,

Have a question to ask the panel? Submit it for consideration below.

Name *


Ask the Panel: How Do You Choose An Essential Oil Brand to Purchase From?

We’re beginning a Question of the Month blog series today. Every few weeks, I’ll be featuring a reader-submitted question here on the blog along with several answers to the question from a panel of professionals in the herbal / aromatherapy industries. If you have a question you’d like to submit for this series, please stick around until the end of the post for instructions.

Our first question posed to our panel of qualified professionals is:

What are the top two things you look for when choosing a brand from which to purchase an essential oil?


1. I always appreciate when an essential oil company imports their oils directly from distillers who extract their oils from plants grown without pesticides and herbicides. 2. I admire companies that test their essential oils, batch specific, with GC/MS technology and do not standardize or adjust their oils once they arrive from the distiller. Andrea Butje


As a supplier I guess this is a different answer to someone who is a therapist looking for a brand! For me, it is visiting the farmers and cooperatives that I have known and trusted over the years, who will pick and distill at the times I want for my company. This is the first thing as when the oil is picked does determine which chemicals are present in the finished oil. The second thing would be the trust I mentioned. I would never buy from someone I did not trust to supply me with the therapeutic quality I am seeking. Most 'traveling salesmen' are selling leftovers from the perfume trade, who use fractionated and adulterated essential oils, not oils specific to aromatherapeutic use. If I were to guide therapists, I would say that firstly you need to trust the company you buy from - do they give advice for every oil and the clinical uses for the oils in your situation? Do they give the right paperwork (although that is not always an indication of quality), do you feel comfortable with your supplier? I would also say, do not go by the smell. Unless you are an established aromatherapy expert with many years experience, you probably wont know if that lavender is 42:42 or not! Be aware of copies and don't buy from folk you don't know. Hope this helps you :) – Penny Price


Availability (Do they have the correct oil that I need? i.e. chemotype/form) and purity [of the oil]. – Sylla Sheppard-Hanger


The organoleptic qualities of the oils and the straightforwardness of the proprietors of the brand. I read about the organoleptic qualities on my blog.– Jeanne Rose


Knowledge and experience of the brand. Do they employ a certified aromatherapist on staff/consult? How long have they been in business? What is their reputation within the industry? Can they answer my questions and make suggestions about the essential oil use? All of these questions give me information about their knowledge (not just their training, but their actual knowledge of each essential oil) and experience within the industry and use of essential oils in practice. If a brand has both knowledge and experience of essential oils, the other important stuff (such as quality/extraction methods/sourcing of the essential oils) should automatically follow through/be answered within those two points. Sharon Falsetto


Good moral code about aromatherapy and essential oils and the price! – Elizabeth Ashley


I check for GC/MS reports to see if the oils are pure and I evaluate the company’s reputation. – Robin B. Kessler, CA


Reputation & longevity of the company, and testing documents – Ken Miller


I don't necessarily think in terms of "brands" when I purchase essential oils. I'm more interested in the oils than the brand, and for that reason I focus on how a supplier represents and maintains their relationship with the oils they offer, their customers, and the distillers they work with. There are many ways I evaluate that, some factual and some nuanced. To turn the question around a bit, if I had to choose two deal breakers, I'd say that if I couldn't get batch-specific GC/MS reports, and if I saw spurious therapeutic claims or extreme usage suggestions on the supplier's website, I would absolutely look elsewhere. GC/MS reports, ideally from an independent third party, identify the chemical composition of that specific batch of essential oil. I need this information to verify the therapeutic properties, safety, and efficacy of my blends. Strongly curative or prescriptive language on a brand's website or literature, as well as suggestions for frequent neat (undiluted) use or ingestion, are all red flags to me. By contrast, when a supplier speaks in more neutral language including proper dilution guidelines and other safety information, they exhibit a better understanding of essential oils and aromatherapy. They are also more likely to provide other useful information such as when the oil was distilled, its shelf life, its full Latin name (genus, species, and chemotype where appropriate), and its geographic origin, all of which impact my purchasing decisions.Michelle Gilbert


1. I look for companies that provide GC/MS reports of each batch. Knowing the percentages of chemical components is an integral aspect of my blending process. I look at it like each bottle is its own character. While some batches may be similar, they are not always the same. Knowing what makes them "tick" helps me to know their therapeutic value. 2. I look at the ethics of the company. Do they provide safe usage advice? Do they fully disclose information when a person inquires about their essential oils ? Do they focus on education and not just sales? Does the owner of the company have professional training, years of experience, and relationships with the distillers? Utilizing a company whose core foundation lies on integrity and kindness is paramount. – Amy Emnett


Integrity (company provides quality product for ethically obtained oils) and proper documentation (batch-specific GC/MS & other testing, proper Latin name on label, MSDS sheets). – Lora Cantele


I hope these valuable answers from this panel of professional aromatherapists and aromatherapy educations have been a help to you. Feel free to pin this post for later use or share it with friends who might also find it valuable.

Much love,

Have a question to ask the panel? Submit it for consideration below.

Name *


Meet an Aromatherapist: An Interview with Sylla Sheppard-Hanger

Many of you will fondly recognize our guest today. Sylla Sheppard-Hanger, aromatherapist, essential oil safety advocate, and educator-extraordinaire, is no stranger to the aromatherapy community and we're blessed to be able to share our recent interview with you here on the blog this week!



Sylla Sheppard-Hanger has 40-some years of experience and personal research into bodywork and essential oils as a Natural Health Care Practitioner, licensed Massage Therapist, Aromatherapist, and licensed Cosmetologist. Her fascination with aromatherapy has led her to study with some of the most knowledgeable people in the field of aromatic and medicinal plants, essential oil research, and herbology.

In 1993, she completed the Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Program at Purdue University in Indiana, and continued to complete the International Training in Essential Oils: Advanced Studies - Parts 1 & 2 (1996-7). She was a founding member of the American Aromatherapy Association (1988) and served two terms on the Board of Directors. She is the Founder and Director of the Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy (Tampa, Florida) and author of The Aromatic Spa Book (2007), The Aromatic Mind Book (2008), The Aromatherapy Practitioner Correspondence Course, and the Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual (1995). Sylla founded and directed the volunteer team for the United Aromatherapy Effort, Inc. (UAE), a non-profit charity whose mission is the collection and dissemination of donated aromatherapy products and chair massage to those affected during critical incidents and emergency work. Sylla worked closely with Dr. Trevor Stokes of the University of South Florida in their Psychosocial Aromatherapy Research Project (PARP) using aroma in children with autism and other disorders. She teaches and consults with companies needing help; and she maintains a private Aromatherapy practice (as a licensed massage therapist and cosmetologist) in Tampa, Florida, where she resides with her husband and one cat.


Hi Sylla! Thanks for being here with us today.  Could you start by telling us a bit about who you are, where our readers can find you, and what you are doing in the aromatherapy industry right now?

Thank you for this opportunity! I started in the 1970's when I first found essential oils and added them to my massage practice.  I actually thought I invented something but soon found out others had the same ideas. 

It all started on the quintessential “hippy road trip,” during which I ran across a fragrance shop for the first time.  It was love at first scent (and sight­ — I love those little glass bottles). That love became an obsession with personal scents and I developed one for myself that I still wear to this day. Those who know me know me by scent, even when I’m no longer there.

From there, I moved into licensed massage therapy and began to incorporate fragrances into my massages. The effects on clients sometimes astounded me! My lifelong obsession with aromas, essential oils, and positive effects was cemented.

Today, I work in several aspects of the industry.  From teaching to researching, editing for peers to client consultations — I am very active within the aromatic world and have a driving desire to encourage safe use on a global level.

You can read that whole story of my aromatic birth here.

When did you start working with essential oils? What was it about them that inspired you?

Like many people, essential oils changed my life from the moment I first smelled some way back in the mid-1970’s.  When I added them to my massage treatments, clients experienced amazing relaxation; when I made my own personal perfume, I felt complete.  It became my signature scent that I still am known by today, 40 years later. 

Which teachers or mentors have been the most influential in your aromatherapy journey?

Like so many in this industry, I began by reading anything I could. Of course, in those early days, finished quality reading material was harder to find. After I’d read all I could and incorporatedthat material into my practice, I searched for further education.

I found Kurt Schnaubelt and the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy and enrolled in (and completed) the program there. I loved their conferences. Oh, the joy of gathering together with like minds and learning from others! Kurt and Monica were the first to bring many aromatherapists to America for those conferences — I heard from people like Tisserand, Penoël, and Franchomme. Great days, those were!

I talk more about those first days in my education here.

Was there ever a specific situation that led you to an, "Oh, this really works!" moment?

Several moments stick out:

  • My first healing experience of treating a bedsore wound with lavender.
  • Helping one person to relax in order to pass away in peace, soon after diffusion.
  • My own healing experience during radiation treatment for breast cancer and feelings during my breast cancer journey (link below).
  • Finally, a testament to daily diffusion: it is rare that either I or my husband catch a flu, virus, or other contagious illnesses, even though we both work around lots of people. He totally attributes that to living with me and the oils all these years; our home is protected!! So, our having no major illness from airborne germs because of diffusion is a big one.

I must say, though, that one of the most amazing things is seeing the “This really works” moment. Watching someone have a complete breakthrough in thinking just by smelling an oil or blend or having a complete emotional release (cry, laugh, etc) — that is something I’ve always loved. My daughter, Nyssa, and I say in our classes that the class is not successful unless someone cries. And most often, someone does, even us.  

My journey combining complementary aromatherapy with radiation is a free download here (put it in the cart, then check out - use credit card 0000, leave expiration as is, and fill out other information as usual). 

Can you tell us a bit about your own pursuit of aromatherapy education?

I first took the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy course in the early 1980s, then wrote my own Aromatherapy Practitioner Home Study Course to fill in the gaps for practitioners as I found the course lacking that part. I attended every class, conference, and meeting I could find in those days before the internet. Some of that is chronicled in the link below. 

As a Founding Member of the first American Aromatherapy Association, I met all the leaders in the field. Later, I attended Purdue University for several programs on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, including the two-part Essential Oils Program with Dr.  Jim Simon. 

Other influences have greatly expanded my personal growth in the field. Some of them include: 

  • I studied with Martin Watt in person and over distance, first published his Plant Aromatics and brought him to the United States of America. 
  • Tony Burfield helped me with scientific editing for my courses and I published his Natural Aromatics Odours and Origins (both the first and, more recently, second editions) which taught me more. 
  • I’ve repeatedly teamed up with Dr.  Robert Pappas and have sponsored classes and collaborated on papers with him for many years. 
  • I also attended a fascinating summer program on plant classifications at Cambridge University (UK). They have all the plant families in separate beds there! 
  • I hosted and studied with Robbi Zeck and the Blossoming Heart classes.
  • Gabriel Mojay has been a big influence as a personal friend and colleague and a joy to host in classes here in Tampa. 
  • Most recently, I attended Mark Webb’s 8-day Medical Aromatherapy class in Atlanta.
  • A full listing of all the courses I’ve taken can be found here.

One thing aromatherapists have in common is an endless thirst for continued education in our field.  What are some of the ways you are continuing your own education?

Besides attending most Alliance of International Aromatherapists and National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy conferences, I enjoy attending classes like the Aromatic Medicine above. Editing Tony Burfield’s Natural Aromatics Odours and Origins, Second Edition has been a continuing education for me and my daughter for the last year. In addition, I’m regularly updating my own course materials and creating new courses is education. Aside from all of that, I enjoy the informative parts of social media (Facebook/LinkedIn) for leads on new studies and updated information.

What does a typical day or week as an aromatherapist look like for you?

Today it is scattered regular clients and some online mentoring in our Student Forum. For the last year, spare moments were spent working on editing and publishing Tony Burfield’s second edition; since Nyssa and I are also creating a new beginner course, we are writing sections for this. In addition, throughout the last few years, I have been working with new companies/individuals - consulting, creating blends, etc. (such as the Kids line for Eden’s Garden). 

What do you enjoy most about being an aromatherapist?

I love daily work with the oils — making a new blend or just using them in my own self-care, for diffusion, etc.  Mostly I enjoy making changes in people’s lives so simply and pleasantly, and sharing with others the simplicity and pleasure of living with essential oils. I recently gave a diffuser and oils to a friend’s mom who is house-bound — her life is much more pleasant and healthier with it!

What is one of the most challenging things about being an aromatherapist?

When I started 40 yrs ago, there were no courses or qualifications or titles for people taking courses. We have had to create this in our industry, and even still today, they are varied and inconsistent; from Aromatherapy Practitioner to Certified Aromatherapist, with training time varying from a simple weekend to years of study.  The national organizations have their standard requirements for members, but that leaves out the rest of the world. 

Our working vision is to get the Registered Aromatherapist designation in place — for this, people can take an independent exam (regardless of which accepted course they choose) and receive the title Registered Aromatherapist. Right now, this remains our only designation with a standard, yet it needs new volunteer input and some changes to reflect what Aromatherapists really want.

So the acceptance and embracing of aromatherapy or aromatic medicine in holistic health care is happening, but slowly, and this is good to see. However, the other issue is battling the constant unsafe info being generated by the masses on the internet.

Is there a particular aspect of aromatherapy that you are passionate about?

Safety!! As former chair of The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy Safety Committee (unfortunately now defunct), I developed a passion for stressing safe use — due to the tremendous amount of reports of injuries caused by unsafe advice since about the mid 1980’s. We had never had to deal with this issue before the unsafe advice started being spread. This led to the collection of injury reports we still now collect. The collection has begun to reveal the degree of less safe use and the need for safety education at a mass level. It also points to the validity of a class action lawsuit being looked into.

Which essential oils are you finding yourself working with most often lately?

Lately, I have used what I call the breather oils (conifers/citrus), partly because I love the fresh clean smell and because my oak trees are full of pollen. Since pollen doesn’t help my breathing issues, I am preventing the issues by staying inside! Also I have been playing more with new CO2 extractions, most recently,  the Rosemary ct. verbenone, which has always been a favorite!

What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career in the aromatherapy industry?

Decide on your role and capabilities: essential oil producer, product sales, product formulation, application as a licensed professional (for instance: massage/skin care), mental health counseling, health coach, etc. Ask yourself, “What do I want to do in the industry?”

Find the most relevant school and teachers to get your initial education; look for teachers who may share your field, especially those that are still practicing therapists themselves. Look for those who are still learning themselves. Look for schools that have a long history of specialty education in aromatherapy. Check out the school and teachers’ accomplishments over the years: are they active in the industry? How long have they been teaching? Look for those with high regard in the field and courses that are approved by the national organizations. 

And .  .  .  never stop learning!

I hope you've enjoyed getting to know our guest a bit more today. Have a lovely week!

Much love,


Meet an Aromatherapist: An Interview with Rhiannon Lewis

*Note: This interview was first published in the April issue of AromaCulture Magazine.

I was first introduced to Rhiannon Lewis through the Aromatherapy Certification Program's Masters Series at Aromahead Institute. One of the educational webinars available to me as a student featured Andrea's interview with Rhiannon about French medical aromatherapy. I later came to recognize Rhiannon as the creator of the Botanica aromatherapy conferences and the editor of the International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy. She's a lovely person and a gifted aromatherapist and educator. I'm thrilled to be able to share this interview with you today!


Rhiannon Lewis is the director of Essential Oil Resource Consultants. She is an experienced aromatherapist, author, editor and gifted educator. Her extensive experience in the clinical uses of essential oils stems from undertaking training in the UK, France and the USA.

Together with Gabriel Mojay, Rhiannon is editor of the International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy. Through publication of evidence-based articles and research studies, she inspires practitioners to use essential oils and related products across a range of healthcare settings. Rhiannon is also the host and organizer of the Botanica series of conferences that run biennially. 


Hi Rhiannon! Thank you for joining us today. For those readers who do not know you yet, could you tell us a bit about who you are, where you come from, and what you do in the aromatherapy world?

Hi Erin, thanks for inviting me. I am often described as a Welsh African living in Provence (Afro-Gallo-Provencale)! I was born and brought up in the African bush and owe my passion for aromas and aromatic plants to my early childhood experiences in nature. I then spent a chunk of years in the UK where I trained as a nurse and where I began my professional aromatherapy journey. I have been living in France for the past 20 years, 17 of which have been in my current location, tucked away in the mountains of Provence surrounded by wild aromatics and artisan distillers. My work, essentially, is providing information, education and research in the field of essential oils, and especially, in the field of clinical aromatherapy. I achieve this in several ways: via classes and conferences, via my publication, the International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy, and via the Botanica series of international conferences of which I am host and organizer. I also practice aromatherapy in my community.

When did you start working with essential oils? What drew you to them?

I first started working with essential oils in the 1980’s. I was a nurse working in intensive care at the time and, inspired by the first book written by Shirley Price, I began using them for my own wellbeing and to help cope with stresses related to working in a high tech environment with very sick patients. The difference they made to my own life and sense of balance led me to consider what a difference they could make to patients. So, I left my secure full time job as a nurse and entered full time aromatherapy training with the intent to return to the clinical environment as a therapist instead of as a nurse, which I did. My training in aromatherapy was then further extended over the years that followed by attending educational programs in the USA (essential oil science) and France (the French medical style of using essential oils).

If one of our readers wanted to attend one of your classes or workshops, how could they go about doing so?

I teach at events in different countries around the world so the best way to find out where I am or what I am up to is via my website where there is a calendar of events. I also host classes here in Provence during the summer months – usually they relate to my Advanced Clinical Aromatherapy intensive study program that began 19 years ago and which has several levels and reflects my knowledge, training, and experience of both the traditional UK and French aromatic medicine approaches to using essential oils.

Tell us a bit about the Botanica conferences. When did you start organizing them? Will there be another one in the coming years?

For many years, I had dreamed of hosting an international conference: one that was independent of any membership organization, that was devoid of hype and egos and that simply brought together people who were passionate about herbal therapeutics and especially essential oils, to celebrate common ground, to provide a platform for networking and sharing experience, skills, products and education. In 2010, I found the ideal location and began organizing the first event which finally took place in September, 2012 at Trinity College Dublin.

Botanica2012 was a great success, and this has been built on successively every two years. The last event, Botanica2016 took place at the University of Sussex and welcomed 400 persons from almost 50 different countries. Botanica2018 is set to take place there again, August 31 - September 3, 2018.

What makes Botanica unique is the truly international nature of the event, the excellent speakers, the diverse trade show and the warmth of exchanges between practitioners, researchers, producers and suppliers alike.

Can you tell us a bit about your aromatherapy journal?

The International Journal of Clinical Aromatherapy was launched in 2004 in response to the needs of therapists working in clinical environments or those who are working clinically with essential oils. The IJCA provides solid, evidence-based information to help these practitioners extend their knowledge and skills and make an even greater difference at the bedside. The journal is published twice a year and each issue carries a main theme. For example, the themes for 2016 related to digestive challenges, the themes for 2017 relate to symptom management and so on. In 2014, Gabriel Mojay came on board as my associate editor and we transitioned the journal to an e-format which has permitted us to further expand the content and presentation of the journal. For 2017 we are setting up an online networking platform for current IJCA subscribers, the International Clinical Aromatherapy Network (ICAN) as we want to foster closer exchanges between readers of the IJCA.

What are some of the trends you are seeing in the aromatherapy industry?

One trend that I have been watching with interest is the increase in online training programs leading to professional aromatherapy qualification. Several leading educators such as Andrea Butje of the Aromahead Institute in the USA have really taken online learning opportunities to a high level and students are well supported in their learning journey. Over the last couple of years there has been a veritable explosion of online classes – they are of varying depth and quality.

Another trend I have seen in the UK in clinical settings (partly through my influence in the cancer care field over the past 14 years) is that more and more aromaalone interventions (aroma stick inhalers, aroma patches, etc.) are being used. Previously, aromatherapy was almost always associated with a touch intervention, such as massage. This is changing, at least in the cancer and palliative care world, with very positive outcomes.

Another trend I have been watching is the rise in popularity of using essential oils by the general public with little or no awareness of the potency of essential oils. This trend is worrying and as aromatherapists, we need to be vigilant and ready to educate on the safe, appropriate use of essential oils and related products wherever we can.

One of the trends we are seeing here in America is misuse of essential oils when it comes to internal applications. You are a trained educator of aromatic medicine. Could you briefly address the issues we are seeing with the misuse of essential oils, especially when it comes to ingestion?

As you say, this trend began in the USA, but has also now spread to other countries and so we are seeing concerns raised in countries such as the UK, Ireland, Australia, Japan and so on. In my mind, there are two things to consider.

Firstly, to use essential oils internally in a safe and effective manner, one normally has to have a very good indication/ clear diagnosis (usually an acute situation such as infection), a sound rationale for the specific oils chosen for this route of administration, use of the minimum effective dose, careful monitoring and treatment over the short term only. Unfortunately, the trend we are seeing (often erroneously cited as the “French style”) appears to be the complete reverse - essential oils are ingested in high doses over extended periods of time more as a lifestyle fad than for a specific indication, with little or no monitoring and it is often the case that the essential oils selected are ones that carry a certain level of risk such as toxicity or mucous membrane irritation. In my opinion, this trend will only change / be positively influenced with good education.

Secondly, this excessive consumption / use of essential oil presents a significant ecological impact. Every drop of essential oil represents a large biomass of plant material. When people use essential oils excessively and without a sound indication, not only are they putting
their health at risk, they are also having a negative impact on the environment; they are being wasteful (even qualified aromatherapists need reminding of this fact!). Once again, we need good education to reinforce the importance of the minimum effective dose, the awareness that every single concentrated drop of essential oil counts and that in many cases, an herbal (or other) approach may in fact be more effective.

Could you share one of the ways you use essential oils most often in your own life?

I tend to restrict my use of essential oils to when I need them, usually when I get sick. I tend to use them most often when traveling, to help me adjust to time zones, to protect from germs and to restore my energy levels.

In my practice here in Provence, I use essential oils for a wide range of needs. A recent blend I made for a client here in Provence that was truly wonderful contained Vetiveria zizanioides (Rhus kus), Citrus bergamia (Bergamot), Tsuga canadensis (Hemlock) and Citrus aurantium var. amara (Neroli). This client has complex issues including longstanding fibromyalgia and insomnia and absolutely loves this blend. She is sleeping better, has less pain and is currently reducing her antidepressant medication (under medical supervision) with regular use of this blend in aroma stick and topical applications combined with regular bodywork and counselling.

Which aspect of aromatherapy do you enjoy the most?

My passion is for making a difference to the quality of life for patients living with cancer or those with a lifelimiting illness. This is where the therapist ideally needs a broad set of aromatic skills (clinical, holistic, medical, etc.). I love being able to explore and research specific clinical challenges that therapists in these settings meet on a daily basis and then be able to offer well informed strategies to help them enhance their care.

What is next for you? Are you working on any new projects?

I am never short of ideas and projects! There is, of course, Botanica2018 to organize, the ICAN to set up, as well as some wonderful local projects in my community that involve essential oils. On a personal level, I will be getting married this summer and so that in itself needs some planning!


  • FAVORITE VEGETABLE - Leeks (well, I am Welsh after all!)
  • FAVORITE FLOWER – Gloriosa superba (flame lily), the national emblem of Zimbabwe
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU HAVE TRAVELED – the hot springs village of Kurokawa onsen near Mount Aso in Japan
  • FAVORITE ESSENTIAL OIL - This evolves over time depending on how I am feeling and what situations I am in but I confess to being a long-term fan of Lavandula latifolia (spike lavender).

Rhiannon, thank you for being willing to share with us today. AromaCulture readers, I hope you've enjoyed getting to know Rhiannon a bit!

Much love,


How to Become a Certified Aromatherapist

When I first became interested in essential oils, I had no idea what I was supposed to do with them. I'm a bit of a nerd when it comes to studying, though, so it wasn't long before I had volunteered my husband to help me carry a humongous stack of aromatherapy books home from the library.

I think most of us who enjoy learning about essential oils figure out early on that they just have a way of drawing us in until we want to know everything there is to know about them. The more I studied, the more I wanted to know. The analytical side of my creative brain was constantly badgering me with questions - "But why does this work?" "How do I know when to use Roman Chamomile instead of German Chamomile?" and, all too often, "What does that even mean!?"

My innate need to fully understand everything I become interested in left me thirsty for a much more solid foundation.

That's when I started researching more in-depth aromatherapy education. Some of the programs I found looked amazing but cost more than I could afford at the time and I didn't want to take out a loan to go back to school right in the middle of our Dave-Ramsey-Style-Get-Out-Of-Debt run. Some of the other courses didn't look comprehensive or trustworthy or up-to-date enough to capture my attention. A lot of time was spent sorting through information before I finally settled on the program I wanted to go through first and started saving for it. I know taking in all of that information and making a decision can be daunting, so I'm simplifying the process for you today with 10 easy steps to become a Certified Aromatherapist.

Note: I know full certification programs are not for everyone. If you have absolutely no desire to build a career around aromatherapy, you may not need to pursue such an in-depth program and a shorter course might work out much better for you.

But if you want to work in the aromatherapy field, start a blog or website, see clients, incorporate aromatherapy into your massage practice or your holistic health practice, write, sell products, or teach classes, or even just know that you have the knowledge and ability to be able to use essential oils safely and effectively and to share accurate information with your friends and family, a certification program is definitely going to be your best option.



Is the school on the approved schools lists provided by NAHA and AIA? NAHA and AIA are the two governing bodies for aromatherapy education in the US. The schools that are recognized by them are those that offer 200+ hour programs with curricula that has been reviewed and approved as being comprehensive and accurate according to the rigorous standards set forth by our industry.

What are their requirements for certification? Most legitimate programs will require you to complete 200+ hours of aromatherapy coursework, an anatomy and physiology class, write a research paper, submit a number of case studies, and pass your final exam(s).


Choosing the school you want to go with for your certification program is a largely personal decision. One school may offer more of a particular aspect of aromatherapy education that you want to learn than another or one may offer a format that works better for your schedule. I needed a school that didn't require in-person workshops or live calls and instead allowed me to learn online at my own pace.

Personally, I also wanted to go with a school that would offer thoughtful, individual feedback on my assignments and case studies, assign me to an instructor who would be available to answer my questions in a timely manner, and that offered an online community where students could interact with each other and the instructors. A mix of video content and written content was also important to me and I wanted to learn from people who I thought had good energy, presented themselves well, and who had a lot of personal experience in the industry.

Ultimately, you'll be drawn to the program that will work best for you. If anything, you'll have to narrow down your favorites and decide which one to go with first and which one(s) to enroll in later on. ;)


Once you decide which program you want to enroll in, you may want to start saving up for it. Even the programs with payment plans require a down payment, so you'll want to be prepared financially. I save for courses by setting up a dedicated, automatic weekly transfer from my bank account to my savings account so that when I want to take a course, I have money in my "education fund" and I'm able to pay for it.


If you aren't able to enroll in the program right away, take advantage of the waiting period by learning everything you can in the meantime. Read books. Lots of them. Ask people questions. Consider booking an educational consultation with an aromatherapist who can answer your tougher questions. Take advantage of the free courses offered by the different reputable schools. It's a good idea to see if the school you've chosen has one available so you can get to know the format they use to present their material and see if it appeals to you.


I ended up choosing Aromahead Institute's Aromatherapy Certification Program as the first course I wanted to take. Since completing that program, I've made my way through other courses, including some from other schools, but this was the one that I thought would provide me with a really solid foundation to build upon and I'm still really happy with that decision.

Shortly after deciding on this program and saving up for it, the school offered a live webinar all about becoming a certified aromatherapist. I attended it and was really glad I did because a lot of the information covered within it answered questions that I had about the process and the value of the program. I ended up enrolling in their certification program during the webinar, which turned out to be excellent timing because they usually offer some really great bonuses when you sign up for the program during the webinar!


Congratulations! You're officially a student! It won't be long now until you're a Certified Aromatherapist!

The day I enroll in a new course is always a really exciting day for me. I know that I've just invested in myself by furthering my education and it feels good. Take some time to celebrate! Get acquainted with the user interface of the site, start making your way through the Orientation materials, and get your account info all set up. Introduce yourself in the forums, if the school you've chosen has them available. (Aromahead has a thriving, active community in their student forum.)


Take your time. There's no hurry. Chew on the lessons as you make your way through them. Re-read / re-watch them several times so you can make sure you are really understanding the information presented. The more you go through the material, the better you'll remember it long-term.


Choose a topic that is really inspiring you, whether it be a single essential oil, a plant family, or a specific issue that you are interested in learning more about. Writing about something that sparks your interest will be much more enjoyable than choosing a bland topic that you'll lose interest in quickly. It'll also make your paper more fun to read. Enthusiasm is contagious!


This may have been my favorite part of the program. I love experimenting and seeing what works and doesn't and then reasoning out why the ingredients I chose were effective (or why they weren't) in any given situation.

One thing that I would do differently if I were able to go back and do this part over again would be to provide each of my case study clients with a little journal to keep notes in as they tested their products. This is a practice that I have since adopted for other projects and case studies and it's invaluable as a tool for learning.

Take time to thoroughly examine your case study results. If you have a blend that really worked, file your recipe and test it again with someone else in the future to see if it may be effective for many people. You can sometimes develop signature blends by refining and repeatedly testing case study blends that were successful! If a blend didn't work the way you had hoped, try to figure out why and decide what you could have done differently.


Take as much time as you need to study before taking your exam. After you pass it, set aside some time to celebrate! You've just completed a really valuable course that is going to help you tremendously as you begin to build your career!

Once you've completed your exam and submitted all of your assignments, you'll receive some final feedback from your instructors and then you'll be awarded your certificate of completion. Print it out (if it isn't already printed) and display it!

As an Aromahead Graduate, I can wholeheartedly recommend Aromahead's Aromatherapy Certification Program. Their in-depth courses are organized so beautifully and include access to a thriving community of students and instructors. Andrea, the founder of the school, and Cindy, the Anatomy and Physiology course instructor, are both incredible teachers who break the information down into easy-to-understand pieces.

Are you considering Aromatherapy Certification?
Which program(s) are you currently thinking about enrolling in?
Let me know in the comments below.

Much love,


27 Experts Weigh In On the Value of Aromatherapy Education

Essential oils have a way of gripping our minds and drawing us into the world of aromatherapy, don't they? It seems like once we inhale that first breath of some nostalgic aroma that immediately calms us or transports us to a happy moment from our childhood, we want to learn all about how essential oils work and how we can use them to benefit ourselves, our families and our communities. We start studying; the 'bug' grips us and our excitement gains momentum as we deepen our understanding, build our libraries and start to navigate through all that chemistry-related jargon. Before long, we're looking at aromatherapy certification courses. Continuing education and professional associations make it onto our "to research" lists and before long, we're shoulder-deep in an aromatic ocean that doesn't seem to have an end as we look out at the horizon. Yep, they draw us in alright.

Are you an aromatic enthusiast? Perhaps you're reading aromatherapy books in those rare free moments after putting your little one to bed, attending webinars while the kids are in school, and comparing your monthly budget with the cost of that course that's on your wishlist. Or maybe you're working full time and, while money isn't an issue, you have no idea when you would ever have time to make your way through the course you want to sign up for. You value formal training and investing in your education, but you're just not sure yet if it's going to be worth it for you to pursue it right now. Or maybe you just don't know what you would do if you did have a formal education in aromatherapy. You don't necessarily have the space to set up a practice and aren't sure if you want to be making and selling products. You want to learn how to use the oils safely and effectively in your own home, but don't know if you need a formal education to do so.

As an introduction to a new blog series, I recently spoke with 27 experts in our industry about what they think about aromatherapy education. How valuable is it really? What do you learn in formal training that you can't learn in even the best of the books or online? How are they using their training now? Ready to know how they answered these questions? I think you'll be inspired and that you'll find the common threads woven throughout their answers quite interesting!



Our 27 experts are a blend of Certified and Clinical Aromatherapists (about half are also trained in aromatic medicine), industry Scientists/Chemists, Educators, Registered Nurses, Licensed Massage Therapists, Herbalists and professional holistic health practitioners.


Aromahead Institute, Tisserand Institute, Essential Oil Resource Consultants / Rhiannon Lewis, The School for Aromatic Studies, Mark Webb / Aromamedix Pty Ltd, Institute of Traditional Herbal Medicine and Aromatherapy (London), ACHS, Floracopeia, Penny Price Academy of Aromatherapy, International Aromatherapy Institute - Canada (now closed), Jill Bruce School of Aromatherapy, Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy, Robbi Zeck, Gabriel Mojay, Aromatic Wisdom Institute, Loving Scents, Atlantic Institute, Essential Oil University, Pam Conrad, Jeanne Rose, Dr. Jane Buckle, College of Botanical Healing Arts, Snow Lotus, Linda Anne Kahn (Natural Healing Institute of Naturopathy), Circle H Institute / Ann Harman, Dr. Bruce Berkowsky, ITEC, Local Workshops, Other

  • My first introduction to aromatherapy was through friends who belonged to an essential oils multi-level marketing company. I attended some of their "classes" and experimented. I kept feeling uneasy about much of the information I was being given, so I started to do my own research. It was then that I discovered that trained, professional Aromatherapists existed and that a lot of the information I was given concerning essential oils was inaccurate. I discovered the Aromahead Institute and decided to enroll in their certification program. - Cathy Breiner

  • I studied aromatherapy in college (~1990) through a custom Mother Earth chemistry program that I created with chemistry, biology, botany, and home economics professors. I used a constantly growing library of books to inform my use of aromatics and herbs for everyday joy and wellness for about two decades before pursuing "formal training" with an aromatherapy school. - Kristina Bauer

  • I'm a natural student, and I began learning about aromatherapy by reading books and peer reviewed journal articles, and by asking questions. I was first interested because I was looking for an additional treatment modality for myself. I found aromatherapy so interesting and an effective complement to my conventional medical treatments. The more I learned, the more I knew I wanted to pursue formal aromatherapy training. - Shannon Becker

  • I had taken a few online classes and belonged to aromatherapy groups on Facebook. - Robin B. Kessler, CA

  • My first experience with aromatherapy was in massage school. Years later I started using essential oils for common ailments without much education. I realized I needed to learn more to be a safe and effective Aromatherapist. - Trey Anderson

  • Very little. I was a part of an MLM for about a year. - Ken Miller

  • I was introduced to the power of aromatherapy through an MLM, and I would say it was maybe 4 months before I began formal training. The more I learned about oils through reading, the more I realized how important it was for me to become formally educated. - Sarah Lake

  • I have over 25+years experience in aromatherapy. I was exposed to EOs, nature/plants and holistic therapies, etc. growing up and began working as a chiropractic assistant after high school, which evolved into becoming a licensed massage therapist, and continued studies/education background in working with animals. - Kelly Holland Azzaro

  • I am certified in natural health as well so I had a very basic aromatherapy class in that program. (That programs centers more on flower essences and herbs.) I also self studied for years before formal schooling. - Amy Emnett

  • I was already using aromatherapy in massage and skincare before any training. - Sylla Sheppard-Hanger

  • I was first introduced to essential oils during my travels to London, where I purchased a blend to help with jet lag; I was amazed at how well it worked! During my tenure in a stressful career in health care, I again encountered the benefits of aromatherapy, helping me manage stress, sleep better, and stay calm and focused. I made cold process soap with essential oils for many years as a hobby, which led to a full-time business selling soap and other natural skin care products. I read many aromatherapy books and attended some local workshops, but knew that I needed formal training to fill gaps in my knowledge, feel confident, and offer safe, effective products. - Michelle Gilbert, CA, APAIA

  • Personal use after trauma - I started using and researching aromatherapy after the sudden loss of my dad 23 years ago. - Marika Fleri

  • I was using essential oils in my handmade soaps and just starting to dabble with them on my own through reading books. - Miriam Carl

  • I have been studying aromatherapy for years. It all started with soap making. Being a R.N., I was immediately drawn to the therapeutic benefits of essential oils. - Karen Williams

  • I earned my aromatherapy certification from Aromahead Institute, and enjoyed learning the chemistry behind the action of aromatic compounds. It was a great basis for aromatic medicine training. Aromahead's course emphasized both popular aromatherapy foundations, but also emphasized clinical case studies, and formulating based on symptoms and goals for the client. The Aromatic Medicine course I am completing is consistent with the level of research I'm used to as an academic researcher. We are learning to think critically as we determine the medicinal actions of chemical constituents in an essential oil, then consider the overall essential oil medicinal properties and choose appropriate essential oils for a given patient. We decide the application method, dosage method, and formulation to address particular conditions. - Shannon Becker

  • I graduated from ACHS, then completed additional studies with Shirley & Len Price, completed the Penny Price Clinical Program and became a tutor for her school. ACHS was most complete as it included herbalism, bodycare, nutrition, flower essences and homeopathics. ACHS also focused on internal use as part of the regular curriculum. Penny Price was more conservative in her teachings. I have undertaken additional continuing education courses with Rhiannon Lewis, Jane Buckle, Farida Irani, Robert Tisserand, Jennifer Jefferies, Cathy Skipper, Gabriel Mojay and Mark Webb. Most recently Mark Webb's Aromatic Medicine and CO2 courses. - Lora Cantele

  • Certified Aromatherapy (200 hours) Clinical Aromatherapy (400 hours) Certified mostly covered chemistry and discussed blends. Clinical Aromatherapy was much more detailed and covered medical conditions, oils best for those conditions, medical interactions, etc. - Andrea Malji

  • I believe in continually educating myself in aromatic practices so I'm always attending more classes and participating in online programs. In addition to the Diploma of Aromatherapy, I've done additional advanced training with Mark Webb and Rhiannon Lewis. I've also done Aromatic kinesiology with Robbi Zeck, and perfumery with Sal Battaglia. Each teacher brings their own experiences and skills to the practice which enhances my knowledge and skills further. - Natalie Miller

  • Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy - Aromatherapy Course and Advanced Practitioner Program: Combined, the courses were 300 hours. Both courses were excellent. The AT course (200 hours) was home study. The APT add-on course (100 hours) was home study, research, and two 4-day live sessions. Aromedix - Aromatic Medicine (100 hours): This course was very detailed, very comprehensive, and very work intensive. A course every serious aromatherapist should be taking and adding to their education. Adding this course to one's education can open up a complete new world in regard to using aromatherapy for treatment of not only minor ailments, but also some of the more serious chronic ailments. The School for Aromatic Studies - French Aromatherapy (123 hours) - This course was a very detailed course, fairly comprehensive, but not strongly work intensive. It is a good intermediate course for aromatic medicine, but not as precise, comprehensive, or work intensive as the aromatic medicine course from Aromedix. Essential Oil University - EO Chemistry: Great course for learning EO chemistry. - Ken Miller

  • So many to list. Studied with Sylla Sheppard Hanger, Dr. Jane Buckle, Robert Tisserand, Jade Shutes, and more via continuing education and NAHA Aromatherapy conferences, etc. Each course and instructor has their own unique style and course curriculum-all which add to expanding and empowering an individual's awareness and knowledge in aromatherapy. -

  • First was home study PIA, from there, Martin Watt in person; Perdue Univ - both Medicinal and Aromatic Plants programs and the 2 part essential oils course. University program was tops, the rest were lacking except Martins. - Sylla Sheppard-Hanger

  • The only courses I have completed have been with Aromahead- I am currently working on French Aromatherapy with the School of Aromatic studies and Master Herbalist with Heart of Herbs. The schools are all very interesting and teaching styles very different. Some have more videos while others are basically just text to read through. They are similar in that you can tell how much all the teachers care about their fields. - Amber Duncan

  • Ohmygosh, WOW, how many characters will this box hold?! No two courses have been the same. Some have been very focused (i.e., aromatherapy for use on the skin, energetics/emotional applications, aromatic medicine, chemistry), others have covered a much deeper and wider spectrum (like certification). I've taken in-person courses, webinars, online courses, workshops at conferences... no two are ever the same. Different courses, teachers, locations, lengths, learning platforms, etc. ALL inform what a course is like! - Kristina Bauer

  • My original formal training consisted of roughly 200 hrs at the Aromatherapy Institute with a very early graduate of the Shirley Price School, followed by a 2 year informal apprenticeship. I feel there is tremendous value in "old school" training, in which the art of aromatherapy is given equal attention to the science. When I felt I had learned everything my instructor could teach me, I attended additional aromatherapy trainings by people with a variety of backgrounds: chemistry, botany, biology, spa services, perfumery, hospice & palliative care, nursing and pharmaceutical industry consulting, among others. Everyone had a very different teaching style, depending on their professional background prior to entering the aromatherapy industry. Again, this was invaluable because I received a wide breadth of education and was exposed to many differing points of view. I've received exposure to many different topics and instructors via regular attendance at AIA, PIA and NAHA biannual conferences. Similarities? The classes/presentations were all about essential oils, but that's about it. - Katharine Koeppen

  • I have taken online courses through ACHS and in-person courses with Mark Webb and Pam Conrad. I enjoyed the flexibility of being able to learn at home, and also thoroughly enjoyed being in a classroom setting, learning in real time from both the instructor and from other students. There is a tremendous value in classroom-style learning, however, the importance of taking responsibility for ones learning cannot be understated. It doesn't matter where you learn, what matters most is an individuals willingness to wrestle with the material until it becomes second-nature. - Sarah Lake

  • Online courses are a great way for students all over the world as well as for those that are not able to travel to have access to education. In-person courses bring the same content but with the ability to not only smell EOs (which can also be done online if the student has EOs on hand), and visually connect with plants, other students and have more hands-on training as needed for specific aspects of learning. - Kelly Holland Azzaro

  • I've taken online and in-person courses. The resources for the online courses I took are regularly updated and still available to me--and I still reference them! The learning platform provided a variety of tools: audio, video, downloadable/printable sheets, searchable online resources, links galore... I had everything I needed from my school during my initial training and lots of ideas on how to dig deeper after the course. - Kristina Bauer

  • Yes. My certification meets the AIA's curriculum guidelines for the Advanced Practitioner level. I chose training programs that provided ample direct interaction via instructor-led forums, interactive webinars, and one-on-one discussion with my teachers. With this support, I was able to ask questions that expanded my understanding even further and helped me target my areas of interest. - Michelle Gilbert, CA, APAIA

  • I don't intend to ever quit educating in this field. - Ruth Nelson

  • I am always learning, every day research and reading. My future goals for 2017 and beyond are to take courses with: Cathy Skipper and Florian Birkmayer, Stillpoint Aromatics, Madeleine Kerkhof-Knapp Hayes, and Gabriel Mojay. Long term goals are to go back to ACHS for my master's. - Leslie Moldenauer

  • As an RA and APAIA I need to complete a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education each year. On average I have completed about 90 hours of continuing ed each year since my RA in 2005. I attend the teleseminars offered by the AIA monthly, attend conferences both here and abroad, webinars and Continuing Ed courses offered at conferences and hosted by others. - Lora Cantele

  • Yes, still taking classes and reading all the current books. I hope to always take classes to stay revelant in the field and as a teacher I want to give my students the most current and up to date information - Trey Anderson

  • Yes. I feel that aromatherapy and herbology are a life-time study and I will always seek out education for self-awareness, as well as to help our clients. - Kelly Holland Azzaro

  • Yes. Going back to Aromahead to do the Advanced Graduate course. Hoping to take Mark Webb's course in Aromatic Medicine after that. I don't think I'll ever stop taking classes. - Amy Emnett

  • Yes! Honestly, I expect to continue my aromatherapy education for the rest of my life. I try to attend at least one industry conference and 2-3 classes a year to inform, anchor, and expand my practice. - Kristina Bauer

  • I plan to continue to research and attend courses abroad every year as I feel that Continuous Professional Development is important in every field but especially in ours. Most of my work is done on a voluntary basis so I have to plan very carefully and save up for courses to attend and it is not easy. - Marika Fleri

  • Yes, I'm always learning and attending conferences, classes, and workshops with experts from all over the world. - Miriam Carl

  • *All but one are continually investing in further education.

  • I offer consultations and make custom blends for clients, teach classes, and work as a consultant for an organic spa. I have also partnered with a physicians group, utilizing aromatherapy to help with pain management and to help reduce narcotic use for chronic pain patients. I also work with other local physicians, chiropractors, and referrers. I am a full time LMT (NYS and national board certified) and use aromatherapy to help support the health of my own clients as well. - Paula Begel

  • I have my own business, where I do professional consultations with medical practitioners and individual clients, formulate custom products, and sell aromatic products. I've been expanding my offerings into resin-infused balms, salves, and oils, and CBD products. - Shannon Becker

  • I give seminars on the safe usage of aromatherapy and also am the head aromatherapiist consultant at the Stein Hospice organization helping those almost ready to pass and those who have anxiety and stress. I also work with seniors using Aromatherapy as an alternative to prescription drugs as long as it is not life threatening. - Robin B. Kessler, CA

  • Teaching locally, consulting, and writing. - Leslie Moldenauer

  • I see clients for consultations, create and sell products, do professional continuing education courses, and speak at health and wellness events. - Erin Oberlander

  • Researching essential oils and publishing books which are in depth studies into essential oils. I have one book which I give away free on Amazon that is designed to show people how a professional aromatherapist would use essential oils rather than how they are shown by essential oil companies. It focuses only on the physical body and then leads the reader onto further books to understand how important the emotions are to health. - Elizabeth Ashley

  • I do private consultations with clients. I work with businesses who want to use aromatherapy with their employees or clients. I teach public and private classes. I am the aromatherapy trainer for a program for natural health professionals. I do free, online courses. I create custom and ready-made blends and products. - Amy Emnett

  • see clients, consult for companies (make blends, etc), provide education - Sylla Sheppard-Hanger

  • I offer in person and e-consultations along with in-person and online courses. - Amber Duncan

  • The bulk of my time these days goes to writing and executive producing the aromatherapy documentary Uncommon Scents. I also do some freelance and consulting work in the industry. I continue to provide custom products to several established wholesale clients and a handful of one-to-one clients, but I am no longer taking new clients. My work involves much more than aromatherapy every day, but it does involve aromatherapy every day. - Kristina Bauer

  • In the running of an essential oil company, a private practice, community outreach, and teaching formal classes - Katharine Koeppen

  • Private Cliente, referrals, mainly focused on men over 35 wellness, combining nutrition, catering, herbs, supplements and aromatherapy as applicable. - Reta Mercedes Parker

  • Im and educator, certifying aromatherapist. - Anna Doxie

  • I am currently transitioning to a new aromatherapy business that will focus on providing online educational resources for people not yet interested in becoming certified and for certification students who would like a review resource. - Cathy Breiner

  • I am an instructor on the private student forum at Aromahead Institute. I write for aromatherapy publications such as Aromaculture and academic holistically focused journals. I provide consultations for individuals, businesses (health foods stores, yoga studios, small cosmetics companies), and practitioners (functional medicine doctors, naturopaths). I combine personalized aromatherapy blends with holistic life coaching to support a person's mind-body path to wholeness. I proudly serve on the Education Committee of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists and the Board of Directors at Orenda Healing International, a nonprofit organization that promotes research and education in alternative health. I also formulate for massage therapists and psychologists. - Michelle Gilbert, CA, APAIA

  • I am currently running The National Cancer Platform office in our main Oncology Hospital (Malta) and Aromatherapy is one of the tools I use to help my patients on a daily basis. I feel enriched to have such a wonderful versatile tool to use at any stage my patients are at - Marika Fleri

  • I use it in so many ways! In 2013, I founded my aromatherapy business, Kindred Earth Botanicals. I provide a variety of aromatherapy blends (both pre-blended and custom made). In addition, my aromatherapy education has been life-changing when it comes to improving my own well-being and the health of my family and clients. It's so empowering to be able to make your own medicine and to see its positive effects on others. - Miriam Carl

  • We have an essential oil business called Aromatics International. We import amazing essential oils that are wildcrafted or organically grown and love to meet the farmers and distillers. We try to share our knowledge as much as possible and love what we do! - Karen Williams

  • I believe that education is valuable and necessary, especially if you're wanting to make products to share or sell. I think education is itself valuable, even if you're not planning on practicing as an aromatherapist, but the decision of whether to invest in a formal program would be personal. - Shannon Becker

  • Start small - perhaps an introductory class. - Paula Begel

  • If you are working with people you need training. I did not realize the importance of it in the infancy. I then had a wake up call where I realized everything I thought I knew, especially regarding safety, was wrong. I learned trusted sources which I should have known before making and selling products to the public. I stopped and started over, learning as much as I could and reformulating much of what I had already created. It is absolutely crucial to have a formal education if your intent is to focus outside of your family unit. - Ruth Nelson

  • The industry needs dedicated individuals looking to complete formal training. Learning however is never over; self-teaching, reading, research, and experience are important as well and ongoing. You will get out of your education what you put in. - Leslie Moldenauer

  • Although you can learn a lot of information from it, remember that the field and title of aromatherapist is unregulated. Unlike, non profit higher education, It's difficult to know the quality of aromatherapy programs due to this lack of regulation. Make sure the program is not centered around one individual teacher, if they become sick or die, the program ends with them (this happened with my teacher). - Andrea Malji

  • The training really is invaluable. You can read all you like, but in a classroom environment, you experience so much more. You discover different ways of looking at the same problems/concerns and this contributes to your practice as a professional. - Natalie Miller

  • Ensure that you look for a company that has a proven track record in helping and supporting you in getting your business off the ground afterwards. Next most important would be that you go to someone who has up to date knowledge of mind body spirit developments. This will be where the next successful aromatherapists come from because they will be able to help the patients that doctors will readily admit they cannot. - Elizabeth Ashley

  • It's worth the time and money to learn the safe and effective ways to use essential oils and aromatherapy. Aromatherapy education can open up so many possibilities and graduates can go in many different directions depending on their background such as massage therapist, energy worker, esthetics. - Trey Anderson

  • I would tell them that if they are serious about AT, they need to be properly educated. There are so many things people have been taught on social media and by companies that are completely incorrect, and one needs to have a proper education. If they are wanting to help others in any way with AT, then they need to have the proper education and training. - Ken Miller

  • As with anything worth doing, there is a time and financial commitment. To people who are looking to use essential oils safely for their families, but aren't passionate about the field itself, I would recommend that they partner with a local aromatherapist who is willing to help them identify the oils and blends that would be safe and beneficial for their families. For those people who believe they would like to make this a career, I would encourage them to try to identify how they can fill a niche - what area are they passionate about? How can they combine aromatherapy with what they already know? Most people will need to plan to be self-employed, so that can be a scary prospect as well. If you're not comfortable with that, then this might not be for you. I don't regret one single dollar I invested in my education. With the rising number of injury reports, it would not surprise me if we see essential oils becoming more tightly regulated in coming years. There are advantages to this and disadvantages. I did not want to end up on the wrong side of regulation and not be able to use essential oils for my family's health because I didn't have training, so for me, it was worth it regardless of what I planned to do with it. As I learned more about how oils can be used, I was really able to hone in on the area in which I want to work. - Sarah Lake

  • When seeking out avenues for education in any industry/profession, it is best to research, make a list of questions, and connect with the educator/instructor to make sure that you are comfortable and aware of what is required to complete the course/s successfully. Invest wisely, commit to a schedule, stayed focused, continue to learn more and grow. - Kelly Holland Azzaro

  • It is worth the investment. Education is priceless. Is it hard work? Yes. But nothing in life worth having is easy. The knowledge that I have been given through my formal aromatherapy training is irreplaceable. Not only has it helped my family get healthier, but it allows me to safely and effectively help others achieve their wellness goals through aromatherapy. - Amy Emnett

  • You can't afford NOT to take the time and spend the money! First, whether you want to leverage aromatherapy personally or professionally, you must be empowered to do no harm--that means working safely with your tools *and* blending safely for individual family members, friends, clients, and/or customers. There are free courses that take only a little time to get you started at a most basic level. If you hope to charge for your services, you should expect to make an investment in the education and training necessary to be safe and effective in your work. You'll need some understanding of therapeutic properties, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, product types/dose forms, research, oils, carriers, and more. The quality of your work will reflect your investment! It may be easier to say it like this: When you consider all of the ways it will *cost* you NOT to have decent aromatherapy training--that is all of the ways you'll PAY for not making the investment (causing harm, unsustainable use, overly expensive blends, overusing strong oils, low quality/compromised ingredients, ineffective applications, professional liability, your mother-in-law being very, very disappointed in you...)--you'll quickly appreciate the value of investing time and money in the education required to empower the kind of work you want to do! - Kristina Bauer

  • Before considering any program, identity your end goal, business plan, return on investment, etc. Essentially, work toward seeking education that supports your goals. Reality of understanding that there is considerably more education beyond just aromatherapy that may be required to support your goals. - Reta Mercedes Parker

  • An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.~Ben Franklin. You get what you pay for. If you really have a strong desire to learn, begin your journey. The investment is minimal compared to the rewards that you reap from becoming certified, personally and professionally. - Anna Doxie

  • Becoming a Certified Aromatherapist is very beneficial for a variety of people. The home user will be more confident in using aromatherapy for themselves and their families. One can start a business full or part time doing consultations, classes and/or making products to sell. I felt that the costs of my courses were reasonable, especially with the availability of payment plans. The time commitment was feasible even though I had a family and homeschooled my children. - Cathy Breiner

  • There are many levels of aromatherapy training, and there is a level and style of education, as well as time/financial investment, that matches your goals. I strongly believe that everyone who wants to use essential oils safely, effectively, and confidently, from home user to business owner to practitioner, should pursue training. - Michelle Gilbert, CA, APAIA

  • I would say that if you feel this call Go for it. Aromatherapy is not something to pursue if you want to become rich :) It is a call - a vocation. What I can promise is a high dose of job satisfaction - Marika Fleri

  • I think there is no real substitute for training under the tutelage of an experienced aromatherapist. There's a lot of information out there, but much of it is not reliable. - Miriam Carl

  • There is so much opportunity working with Aromatherapy on so many different levels. And now, with so much available online, it makes learning easy and convenient. - Karen Williams

  • Understanding the nuances of safety, and the skill of choosing aromatics. Deciding to include adv essential oil or not is based on many things, and most blogs are unaware of safety for essential oils, interaction with medications, and even the basic rules of "more is not always better". Recipes for medication replacements found on Pinterest are consistently too concentrated, contain an unnecessary number of individual essential oils, and are suggested for individuals in vulnerable populations (babies, the elderly, cancer patients). - Shannon Becker

  • I can give a few examples. I have not learned the following through social media or google: chemistry, healthcare terminology, three semesters of A&P, Pharmacology, the breadth and depth of aromatic medicine, real-life experience and so much more. - Leslie Moldenauer

  • the main thing that was eye opening to me was essential oil safety guidelines. This is probably the main thing I am CONSTANTLY educating my customers, clients, and students about as there is so much misinformation. - Erin Oberlander

  • dosages, duration and proper application method for various pathologies. - Lora Cantele

  • Extensive information about the chemistry of essential oils, rather than chemistry basics. An intro to chem textbook would not specifically address essential oils. Interaction of medications and essential oils. Which oils are ideal for specific conditions (like really, not just what people on the net say) - Andrea Malji

  • Formulation - a lot of people on social media think that aromatherapy is a follow a recipe scenario, but in formal training you learn how to formulate a solution to support the individual and meet their individual circumstances and needs. - Natalie Miller

  • how to do a consult one on one (clinical practice) ; hands on with teacher supervising; nothing replaces hands on learning with instructor, can't get this online - Sylla Sheppard-Hanger

  • In our APT class, people from the local area were brought in to utilize our services for free. We were able to connect with them and work with them to find ways to help them with their issues. We were then able to make blends and various other products in treatment of those issues. Follow-up was also included, so we knew how well things worked. - Ken Miller

  • Internal dosing. You simply cannot learn safe internal dose forms from Google or social media. You cannot understand how the physiology of the human body affects the absorption, circulation, and metabolism of essential oils through the body. Internal dose forms are essentially medicine, and if someone has not had training specifically in anatomy and physiology *as well as* aromatic medicine, and essential oil chemistry, google and social media are simply not going to cut it. - Sarah Lake

  • How to do a consult one on one (clinical practice); hands on with teacher supervising; nothing replaces hands on learning with instructor, can't get this online. - Sylla Sheppard-Hanger

  • How to formulate safe and effective blends. There are so many factors to consider when blending for someone that I would have never thought about if I never attended formal schooling. Before schooling , if someone asked me for help with essential oils, I would suggest an oil and be done with it. Now, I have a more holistic view. I choose oils for my blend that not only support their physical needs, but provide them with specific emotional/spiritual support. I take into account their medical history and medications. I look into the underlying cause of the issue. I see how the client responds to the oils before using them. Relying on Pinterest or Google recipes for blends can be dangerous. Many have unsafe dilution ratios or are suggested to be used incorrectly. Plus, it may not fit your individual needs, therefore can be ineffective. We have to remember that we cannot just look at symptoms. We have to look at the whole person. Aromatherapy training helped me to do just that. - Amy Emnett

  • This is such an interesting question... It's like asking a watchmaker can they share an example of something you learn in a "how to build, repair, and maintain a clock" course that you wouldn't learn from looking at the time... it's... EVERYthing. They aren't even apples and oranges, they are apples and socks... steam engines and mailboxes! So many of the best things I have learned--the most important things, the most inspired things, the most empowering things, the most positively-impactful-on-my-practice and helpful-for-my-clients things--have come from instructors, fellow students, or colleagues I have connected with in courses in which I have invested both time and money. :) - Kristina Bauer

  • Pretty much everything, and that is not too much of an exaggeration. You cannot learn effectively learn safe and proper aromatherapy in a Facebook group or by surfing the web. There is more well-intended yet bad or inaccurate advice given online than anywhere else. When someone is surfing online trying to research a topic about which they know nothing, it is nearly impossible for the average person to separate the good sources from the bad or dangerous ones. At least when you are in a live or online class, you get to know the instructor and their qualifications. When you are asking advice from a random stranger in a social media forum, you have no idea of the qualifications or agenda behind their response. - Katharine Koeppen

  • The complete truth of authentic aromatherapy. Evidenced based, factual information and its practicality and application. You also don't receive support and immediate clarification that is needed to improve your craft. You can get some bits and pieces. But you will never get the entire puzzle! - Anna Doxie

  • There is a camaraderie with class mates and sharing experiences with everyone is special. Forums make this possible for online learning as well. And then its fun to meet at Aromatherapy Conferences and meet "old" friends. - Karen Williams

  • Social media and Google don't really explain how to use aromatherapy in a holistic nature. Most of the online information focuses on using specific essential oils for specific ailments, rather than focusing on treating the whole person--mind, body, and spirit. Online information also fails to mention that each person has their own unique health history that needs to be take into account and that determines the best approach for that person (including which essential oils may need to be avoided). - Cathy Breiner

  • Addressing individual client needs; pathologies; working with/around medications. - Paula Begel

My thanks to everyone who so generously participated in this interview!