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Interviews

AromaCulture's 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

The people who are closest to me in my inner circle know that giving is my love language. I love to give gifts. Thinking through things I can make or purchase for someone to make them smile and help them feel appreciated, finding or making whatever I decide on, then packaging the items up prettily, with intention and care, and sending them off to their new home makes me so incredibly happy. When my husband comes home with a surprise 'just because' gift for me, or an unexpected and thoughtful gift arrives from a friend in the mail, I practically melt. So you can probably guess that Christmastime is one of my absolute favorite times of the year. I like to give gifts all throughout the four seasons, but Christmas gives me a major excuse to love on people a little extra (and all at once!) so I tend to have a lot of fun with it.

If you like giving gifts too (or if you're just trying to come up with some new ideas for your gift list/wish list this year), and are looking for some ready-to-gift items (my DIY list is coming later), I've put together a list of some lovely items from some of my favorite small businesses that would appeal to your plant-loving friends here for you today. A few of the features even include interviews with the business owners!

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Let's kick off the gift guide with a special announcement, shall we? We now have 6-month and 12-month gift subscriptions to AromaCulture Magazine available in our shop! Give the gift of AromaCulture Magazine to your plant-loving loved ones this year.


The first item I'd like to share with you today is a new travel diffuser that was recently made available by my favorite diffuser-making company, Organic Aromas. I love that most of their pieces are made by hand (you can watch videos of their diffuser making process on their Youtube channel) and are customizable, and that they are super committed to making sure that your essential oils never come into contact with plastic. This is something that's important to me, personally, so I really appreciate that this brand specifically creates diffusers that keep plastic parts away from my oils.

This family-owned small business' new travel diffuser is battery powered (rechargeable), can fit in the cup holder of your car, and is made with anodized aluminum and glass. It has a built-in timer and is super easy to pack in your suitcase, so it's perfect for travel as well.

I've mentioned in the past that I've never found a car diffuser/travel diffuser that I like, so I tend not to share them. This new little guy, though, has changed that for me. It's officially my new favorite for diffusing on the road and in hotel rooms, though it definitely doesn't need to be reserved only for traveling.

 
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While everything from Lotus Wei is absolutely lovely, I'm especially loving their Aura Mists lately. Their signature flower essence formulas are combined with aromatic essential oils in these delicate, yet potent energetic mists, which are available individually or in a set of 6 that includes their famous Joy Juice, Inner Peace, Infinite Love, Quiet Mind, Inspired Action, and Radiant Energy blends. I've had them on my desk for a little while now and I love spritzing them throughout the day. They have such intricately beautiful aromas. Joy Juice, Infinite love, and Inspired Action are my current favorites.

 
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My favorite organic, medicinal herb seeds come from Richo Cech and his family over at Strictly Medicinal Seeds (formerly Horizon Herbs). Richo is an herbalist, herb farmer, and master storyteller. His books are treasured volumes in my herbal library. My latest acquisition from his shop? A stash of Sweet Violet seeds ready for planting. (I can't help but sow a few packets of them every year! You can never have too many Violets.) I talk more about my experience with this brand in this blog post.

 
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It's no secret that people who love herbs and essential oils tend to like other gifts from the earth as well. Song Yee Designs is one of my favorite silversmiths / jewelry artists. She creates absolutely flawless gemstone jewelry made with sterling silver and fine silver and hand-selected stones. I've purchased several pieces from her throughout the years (both ready-made and custom pieces), including this White Buffalo Turquoise ring, and I'm always more than pleased with her work. Learn more about her pieces here. (She's also on Etsy.)

 
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Prices vary based on the piece.


Speaking of gemstones and gifts from the earth, Manukoa offers a wide variety of gemstones and semi-precious stones, both rough and polished, along with White Sage smudge sticks and gemstone jewelry. Visit the shop here and enter the coupon code AROMACULTURE at checkout to receive 10% off any purchase over $40. (US shipping only.)

 
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Shown: Aquamarine spheres. Prices vary.


Some of you already know that I like to collect handmade pottery - especially functional pieces like mugs and small bowls and dishes that I can use and feature in the magazine with all sorts of pretty herbal preparations. (Jon and I are actually learning how to make our own pottery pieces right now, too!) This sweet mug was made by Summer of Kilned with Kindness, who is currently my favorite potter. Her pieces always make me smile - perfect additions to any collection and a lovely gift for the tea or coffee drinking friend in your life!

 
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If you don't already, I highly recommend purchasing essential oils from small local farms whenever possible. Being able to visit the farm and see the plants and witness the distillation process will change the way you view and use your essential oils. If you don't have a farm near you, you can 'borrow' one of my favorites - this exquisite Lavender (angustifolia) essential oil is handcrafted by hand in a copper still by our friends Sue and Derek Owen of The English Lavender Farm. It's the finest, most beautiful Lavender oil I've ever encountered (and I tried dozens this year when I was writing my Lavender book!) and you can visit their farm next year during Lavender season! ;)

 
 

Lavender Essential Oil - 10ml, $21


Need a geometric shelf to act as wall art or to showcase your crystals and trinkets? Stewart Landing Co. is owned by an artisan woodworker (who also works here at AromaCulture!) who handcrafts geometric wall shelves and planters using reclaimed wood and hand-picked cedar and pine. His stains are made by hand without chemicals. Wholesale options are available. Enter the coupon code AROMACULTURE at checkout to receive 10% off any purchase over $40. (US shipping only.)

 
 

Handmade Triangle Shelf (other shapes and sizes available): $39


We've shared their products with you before and we'll probably share them again because we just love them so much. Moon Valley Organics offers high quality body and personal care items made with organic herbs grown right on their farm. This Oatmeal Sage bar is our long-time favorite soap from their selection.

 
 

If you've never heard of Juniper Ridge, beware. You'll probably swoon once you take a few moments to look through their product offerings and watch the videos about their process. They make the finest trail-formulated botanical fragrances (distilling on location!) that we've ever found. We're long-time fans of their products. Check out this collection of sample colognes, which makes it easy choose a favorite so you can order a full size bottle.

 
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Another jewelry artist that I've purchased from throughout the years is Mallory Wingo of Wingostarr Jewelry. She handmakes the most beautiful wire-wrapped and beaded gemstone jewelry and all of her pieces are unique (many are one of a kind) and vibrant. This citrine slice necklace is one of my longtime favorites from her shop. She now offers a chakra-aligning version of it that features several different gemstones!

 
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I first found Katelyn's jewelry shop on Instagram a few years ago (we were living in CA at the time) and purchased this ammolite necklace, one of my favorite pieces. Katelyn specializes in electroformed jewelry made with copper and/or sterling silver. Her birthstone + quartz crystal necklaces are beautiful.

 
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Prices vary.


Jen Tao is an Instagram-friend who I originally 'met' on instagram through our mutual love for succulents. (Her instagram feed is incredible if you love them too.) She has partnered with another small business owner this season to make limited edition succulent dreamcatchers. They
will only be available in a limited amount and for a limited time, but you can order one here if you love them as much as I do! Grab one while they're available - they'll go fast.

 
 

Succulent Dream Catcher: $65
(photo from Jen's instagram feed)


Now, for some small business fun!

- the next few features include interviews with the makers -


The bath teas formulated by Denise for Wholly Rooted, her small-batch farm apothecary are exquisite. The aromas are intoxicating and they are absolutely lovely with their vibrant, hand-harvested herbal blends of unsurpassed quality. Pick up a few for your loved ones' stockings this season. They'll be delighted! I like to add a little bit of violet-infused oil to mine to make them feel even more luxurious and then massage the tea bag into my skin in the bath.

 
 

Set of 3 bath teas: $32

interview with the business owner: denise

Note: Denise's full interview is featured in our December issue of AromaCulture Magazine.

  1. Hi Denise! Thanks for taking time to share with us today. Could you tell us a bit about your story? How/when did you start working with plant-based ingredients? What was it about them that drew you in?

    I have always been a very eco-conscious person from food to body and home products. I also have been an avid gardener for many years - and all of that seems to coalesce into working with my hands, growing my own food and medicinal herbs, making a lot of my own bath, body and home products - not only to be more green and environmentally sound, but also to avoid allergens, to use what is local, to use what I connect with. What we put into our bodies is as important as what we put on our bodies and in our homes. All of this has driven me to pursue more advanced level courses  in herbalism, holistic nutrition and aromatherapy. Health and wellness encompasses our whole life, not just our food or exercise. As a gardener, you get to work with a plant from seed to mouth, which is truly a profound experience. Plants, their actions, chemistry, and tenaciousness are fascinating and I love learning about my local plants, the changes in habitat and migration of plant species due to our changing climate, and the impact of soil on nutrition and gut microbiota. Plants enrich my life, and are a part of everything we do! I am currently working on completing my clinical hours to get the official AHG RH (Registered Herbalist) designation. I feel like I’m never done learning, and plants, herbalism, aromatherapy and holistic health have so much to teach us, and I love working with and helping people. Plants have also helped my own healing, and learning about plants is a lifelong evolution based on where I am at each moment, and what my body needs.  
     
  2. What does your creative process tend to look like? When you sit down to create a new product, do you go through a list of steps or do you tend to lean more toward creative expression and go with your gut?

    I love to make items based on a need at home or for a friend. I love blending herbs, essential oils, and carrier ingredients to find a balance and synergy that not only fits the physical need, but also has other purposes such as uplifting the mood, helping with focus, or calming the mind. I tend to use products on my family and myself for awhile before creating bigger batches.

    I love working in my herbal studio with the twinkly lights on, music playing, and a vast quantity of fresh ingredients to create with.

    Both. I love knowing the properties of plants and essential oils and working to create a harmony that works on both physical and emotional levels. So many people are stressed, busy, anxious, nervous, frazzled and tired. Aromatherapy can really uplift and support emotional wellness, while the herbs and oils can support the skin and body. 

    I make all products in small batches, by hand, in my herbal studio. I like working in smaller batches as I think products should change seasonally and I like to be inspired by new ideas and ingredients based on what I grow, harvest, forage or preserve.
     
  3. Tell us a little about the kinds of ingredients you like to use in your products.

    Many of the products with oils are infused with plants I have grown myself in one of my gardens - my hilltop prairie home garden or in the calm and peaceful rural garden where I grow many medicinals surrounded by chickens, goats and bees. My herbs are also in the salves, bath teas, body oils and serums. I grow many of the herbs from seed to bottle, grown organically (though not certified). I harvest by hand all summer, and carefully dry all herbs in dehydrators, and store them in my herbal apothecary. My dried herbs tend to have so much more color and aroma than commercially dried herbs, because of how I harvest and dry in smaller batches. I also distill some of my own hydrosols in my copper still, and all other hydrosols I purchase are organic.

    I source other ingredients based on quality, a transparent supply chain, and organic as much as possible. I don’t mark up my products as much as most people do, which is a fault I suppose, but I want those good quality ingredients as well as pricing that is accessible. I hand make everything myself and make items in small batches, so it is a labor of love in many ways.
     
  4. Which of your products do you use most often?

    We use the chest rub every single night with my son who gets sniffly when in his bed. I feel like we use the salves by the gallon - my kids call it salve-ation, so I now call one of them by that name. Any little bump or scrape or blister  - all get the salve-ation. Body butters are used just out of the shower. We diffuse and use sprays at bedtime. I have used the facial serum and glow facial toner for months on myself now. We carry aromasticks with us everywhere we go (great for kids who need help transitioning)  and we use inhalers and steams when we have a cold. We have rollerballs in our home first aid kit and in the purse - for various things.

    I make custom products for people as well, and some of my favorites that we also use at home include shower gel, hand sanitizer, lotion blends, and massage oils.

    At home, we also make all of our own tinctures, glycerites, extracts, teas and more. We keep looking for a farm with a commercial kitchen to expand our offerings (and life) in the future!
     
  5. Where can our readers find you online?

    WhollyRooted.com - That is where the online shop is along with my blog with recipes and gardening tips, information on consultations, custom products and more! I also love to write and have articles in AromaCulture coming up! Wholly Rooted is on Facebook: facebook.com/whollyrooted, at Instagram at instagram.com/whollyrooted and Pinterest at pinterest.com/wholly_rooted.

The Tulsi Rejuvenating Oil from Apoterra Skincare is lightweight and rejuvenating, just as it promises. It smells divine and slightly masculine and the aroma lingers throughout the day. If you love the smell of Tulsi as much as we do, we think you'll adore this body oil. Apply it just after showering to soak up all of its oily goodness. It pairs perfectly with Apoterra's Tulsi Luminous Scrub, which shares its delightful aroma and leaves our skin feeling perfectly polished and soft. One of our favorite giftable sets this holiday season!

 
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Tulsi Body Care Set (also available individually): $63

Interview with the Business Owner, Dominique

Note: Dominique's full interview is featured in our December issue of AromaCulture Magazine.

  1. Hi Dominique ! Thanks for taking time to share with us today. Could you tell us a bit about your story? How/when did you start working with plant-based ingredients? What was it about them that drew you in?

    I have sort of always been fascinated by plants and the power they hold. I remember as a kid going into my mom's garden to collect flowers, herbs and earth and mixing all of it with liquid hand soap to make a "better" hand soap. It was a total mess, but the curiosity and desire to work with plants was there.  I actually went to school in a totally different direction - I wanted to work in the arts because I thought I could be more creative in that world.  So I went to film school and became a lighting technician for major motion pictures and television. It loved working on big movies, but it wasn't as fulfilling and creative work as I had hoped.  At the same time that I realized I didn't want to continue with my film career, I had this calling to learn more about plants so I decided to start studying foraging and herbal medicine on my own time.  Then one day a friend gave me a soap making kit and I fell in love. I went on to study botany at NYBG, took an intensive herbalism program through the Herbal Bear School of Botanical Medicine, and became a certified aromatherapist the the Aromahead Institute (a NAHA and AIA approved program).
     
  2. What does your creative process tend to look like? When you sit down to create a new product, do you go through a list of steps or do you tend to lean more toward creative expression and go with your gut?

    I start with an inspiration jump off point - whether it be a specific need (like clearing acne), a kind of product (like a facial oil), an ingredient I am really interested in working with or a scent concept.  From there I brainstorm formulations and write down my ideas.  I do a lot of research and often times my concept for the formulation will change a lot until I find something that I am very excited about.  When working with essential oils, I love using the Aromahead Component Database as a resource to help me determine which oils are the best choice.  Then I will source the ingredients I need (if I don't have them on hand) and will start working in the lab. Sometimes the formulation only needs minor tweaks, but other times I go through many versions over many months to improve scent, color, texture and effect.  

    When it comes to creating scents, writing them down and thinking them through is not always where I start.  I usually prefer to start with a concept ("bright citrus with sweet floral notes" or "calming and empowering") and then I will take out my essential oils.  I will smell my way to choosing the ones I want to work with, and start blending that way.  Once I have a blend I like, if I want the blend to have a specific purpose I will look up the oils I chose to see if they align with what I want them to do.  

    (B) A little bit of both!  It depends on what I am focusing on.  If I am focusing on the results, I like to first go with instinct in the ingredients I choose to put in the formulation, but then I will do research and adjust the formulation based on my findings.  If I am focusing on something that is for enjoyment, such as an aroma, texture or color, then I learn more by being hands on and creative, and will make decisions more based on my gut instinct.
     
  3. Tell us a little about the kinds of ingredients you like to use in your products.

    I only source sustainable and clean plant + mineral based ingredients.  I am a huge fan of working with raw plants and clays, but I also see value in plant derived actives that are usually produced in a lab.  I don't see the world as black and white, but more as many shades of grey. So we use raw plants, pure clays and salts, hydrosols, essential oils, oil infusions, herbal extracts (water or glycerin substrate), but also proven safe and effective vegan and plant derived actives like hyaluronic acid, coQ10, and vitamin C.  When I source my essential oils, I always make sure they come with a GC/MS report so that I can be sure of they quality and effect.  I also am pretty stringent about having traceability as far as the country of origin, year of production and certifications regarding my ingredients because this tells me a lot about the quality and sustainability of our ingredients.  When it comes to the lab produced ingredients, I will only source ingredients from manufacturers that are transparent about the raw materials they use in their process.  I share a lot of this information on our website through our batch # system which you can look up to find out, for instance, what country the chamomile essential oil in your facial oil came from and what year it was distilled. 
     
  4. Which of your products do you use most often?

    My toners! I use them as my morning cleanser, mist them on before applying my facial oil or balm, and mix them with my Activated Puirfying Mask. In the summer I use the Neroli Clarifying Toner because I tend to be more break out prone then. In the winter I use our Rose Hydrating Toner.  I also love misting them on throughout the day for a refresher and for aromatherapy (I make them with organic hydrosol blends). 

  5. Where can our readers find you online?

    You can also keep in touch by following us on instagram or facebook @apoterraskincare  www.apoterraskincare.comYou can shop, check out our blog, and look up our product's batch #s on our website which is

Bella Vista Naturals is a small family-owned farm in Georgia. They offer handcrafted apothecary products (salves, lip balms, lotions and scrubs, soaps, etc.) made and formulated by herbalist Anne-Marie Bilella, who has been published in prior issues of AromaCulture Magazine. One of our favorite products this season is her Spa in a Jar Kit, which includes 5 different products all specially developed to help you feel relaxed and pampered through the season. The herbal bath tea in this kit smells absolutely incredible!

 
 

Spa in a Jar Kit: $30

Interview with the business owner: Anne-marie

  1. Hi Anne-Marie! Thanks for taking time to share with us today. Could you tell us a bit about your story? How/when did you start working with plant-based ingredients? What was it about them that drew you in?

    In 1990, my husband and I moved from New York to Georgia to our place, Bella Vista Farm. I worked for different companies for a few years and after our son was born, I knew I wanted to find a way to work for myself. My child ate fast food and drank diet soda at the babysitters, all before the age of 2 and at that time I realized we need to get a hold on eating better and using chemical free products. My dear friend, Cyndi Ball of the Lazy B Farm and President of the National Ladies Homestead Gathering, helped me to get on the right path of good health. She taught me about farm fresh eggs, local meat, how to make cheese and most importantly to try herbal remedies. During the first year of the Ladies Homestead Gathering, I learned about wild weeds - Chickweed was my first obsession! I couldn't believe that weeds in our yard could nourish and heal our bodies. I created my first product, a salve with Chickweed and Plantain. Yep, that was 2011 and I am still obsessed with wild weeds! 
     
  2. When you sit down to create a new product, do you go through a list of steps or do you tend to lean more toward creative expression and go with your gut?

    My brain has all kinds of ideas constantly running around in it. I see a need or an ailment and start brainstorming about what herbs and what type of carrier I use for this new product. Sometimes folks will tell me about a product they would like or one they saw a recipe for and then ask if I can create it. Most of my products are tested on my Herbal CSA members. They usually get first dibs on any new product or limited quantity products.
     
  3. Tell us a little about the kinds of ingredients you like to use in your products.

    All the herbs and mushrooms are organic, homegrown without chemicals or wild harvested. We use organic vinegars, organic coffee, organic milk powders, high quality oils, butters, waxes. Not every oil/butter is organic but they are non-gmo. Our beeswax is locally sourced. 
     
  4. Which of your products do you use most often? 

    I use everything I make but most often, The Pit Stick(deodorant), Peppermint Lip Balm, Lavender Body Butter, Super 10 Stock Powder (mushroom/herb blend) and Holy Basil Tea. 
     
  5. Where can our readers find you online?

    Our products are listed on Etsy as of now, www.etsy.com/Shop/BellaVistaFarm visit the blog at www.bellavistanaturals.com, on Instagram www.instagram.com/mybellavistafarm, Facebook www.facebook.com/BellaVistaFarm

You can't go wrong with herbal tea blends, especially when they're formulated by small local businesses using hand-harvested local ingredients. One of our favorite brands at the moment is St. Fiacre's Farm. Their Coastal Cranberry Spice tea is outstanding! It features organic Hibiscus flowers, locally sourced cranberries and spicy, warming herbs, hand-formulated in small batches on their farm. CeAnne has offered you 10% off purchases in her shop if you use the coupon code AROMA17.

 
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Full tin (other sizes available too): $15

Interview with the business owner: CeAnne

  1. Hi CeAnne ! Thanks for taking time to share with us today. Could you tell us a bit about your story? How/when did you start working with plant-based ingredients? What was it about them that drew you in?

    My husband and I hand blend artisan loose leaf tea on our micro farm of around 2 acres. We both live, work and homeschool our four adopted children here on our small farm. We have been married almost 16 years and have adopted from around the world including Russia, Bulgaria and right here in Oregon. 3 of our 4 children have special needs and so it is important to us that we have not only a school environment but work environment that allows them to grow with as much help as we are able to give them. The farm life has been a blessing in regards to helping their delays from orphanage life.

    I've been into herbs since high school almost 17 years ago starting with aromatherapy before it was popular. I really started diving deep in 2013, taking online herbal classes and reading book after book on herbs and their medicinal qualities. Growing up a city girl compared to my husband, who grew up the son of a ranch hand in Montana, I wasn't much into gardening. The more I learned about herbs, the more I realized how easily accessible they are and easy to plant or forage. I found my love of gardening during that time and we started St. Fiacre's Farm and our line of herbal teas, lip balms and salves.

    The things that drew me into herbs most was their ability to assist in healing naturally without the side affects of chemical drugs (which I'm highly allergic to), how easy they are to access and how available they are to almost anyone. From foraging in the yard (think dandelions and blackberry leaf) to just grabbing herbs out of the produce section (basil & thyme), baking aisle (cinnamon, cardamom) or our own spice cupboards!
     
  2. When you sit down to create a new product, do you go through a list of steps or do you tend to lean more toward creative expression and go with your gut?

    Our products are created in a few different ways. We start with the reason we are creating it: Is it a request from one of our customers? Is there a local ingredient we have access to that we want to feature? Or is there a flavor we are going for? When I went to create our Coastal Cranberry Spice blend I had a mulled wine flavor in mind. It's such a lovely holiday flavor, warm and fruity with lots of spice. I'm allergic to alcohol and this tea blend gives those who can't or don't want to consume alcohol an option during the holidays. It tastes similar, looks similar, but the health benefits are much more. We were able to access cranberries from the Bandon, Oregon area which makes it that much more tasty!

    Our Farmer's Wife Raspberry blend on the other hand was made with women's health in mind and so the basis of that tea is herbs that are especially beneficial for women. Then there are customer favorites such as our Cascade Earl Grey, a lavender earl grey, which is a standard amongst black tea drinkers. And our Cherry City Chai which was created because I love Chai! But we wanted to feature a local farm in the area too and Cherry Country out of Rickreal is just wonderful. We toured their cherry factory and their chocolate room and are so excited to offer an heirloom cherry from Salem, the Royal Ann, in this blend.

    A little creative expression does show up because not only do these teas have to taste wonderful, but the artist in me insists that they look beautiful and we get many compliments on that at the farmer's market. 

    With our monthly tea club, I get to be more creative and create blends monthly for our members. These blends get to feature even more local ingredients because they are a smaller batch blend and can be highly seasonal without the demand from our wholesale accounts to have them year around. Our October blend was an Apple Pie Chai with Queener farm apples and our November tea club members received a Pumpkin HazelNOT Coffee that included pumpkin, marigold and calendula grown right here on our farm. It was so fun to blend because we know the story of those ingredients. Not only did we watch them grow here on the farm ourselves from seed to harvest, but our viewers on our Youtube channel got to watch the whole process too! They got to see where their tea came from and that is what gets us excited!
     
  3. Tell us a little about the kinds of ingredients you like to use in your products.

    We love to source local first. That could mean that we grow it here on our micro farm or it could mean that we source it from other local farms. Our ideal is that the bulk of our ingredients are sourced this way. We have plans to increase local ingredient usage even more in the next year. For the time being we have a few ingredents that come off of our own farm and most of our berries and fruits are local from Oregon. As mentioned earlier our cherries come from Cherry Country, apples from Queener Farms in Stayton, lavender from Eagle Creek Lavender Farm, cornflowers from Floating Petal Confetti in Shaw, aronia berries from Mt. Hope Farms in Molalla, haskap berries from an OSU test farm in Corvallis, and hazelnuts from King Fresh Hazelnuts in Silverton. We are always looking for new local farms to utilize when sourcing our ingredients.

    In the coming year we hope to increase our own plantings here on the farm. We ran some test plots this year as we completed the building of our tea studio (our work space for creating and manufacturing our teas on the farm). When we can't source the ingredients locally, we make use of organic bulk herb suppliers such as Mountain Rose Herbs and Starwest-Botanicals. Local first and then quality Organic, both at once is ideal but not always possible.
     
  4. Which of your products do you use most often?

    The products that we use most often around are farm are our medicinal salves from arnica, calendula and plantain salve to our lip balms. When we are sipping tea we rotate based on our mood or need. Our Ma's Tummy Tea when we need some digestive assistance, Farmer's Wife Raspberry daily in the mornings, Cherry City Chai when we need a pick-me-up, Mountain HazelNOT Coffee when we need a dark, deep, rich drink without the caffeine, and Willamette Berry Pie for dessert!
     
  5. Where can our readers find you online?

    Our farm store is online at www.StFiacresFarm.com and we are also all over social media. Facebook and Instagram are our most popular locations. We also have a Youtube channel where we V-log weekly about our farm and include DIY farm life tutorials which include anything from how we built our 42 foot long green house to how to use herbs like borage and lemon balm. We share a little glimpse of our life here at the farm with our family. We also have a website dedicated to teaching others about growing herbs, using them and of course how to create their own tea blends at www.GrowCreateSip.com That membership is opening shortly.

Happy gift-giving! Share some of your favorite small businesses in the comments section below to spread some small business love this season.

Much love,
Erin


MORE BLOG POSTS

Disclaimer: The new travel diffuser by Organic Aromas was sent to us by the company to share with you. Our review reflects our true opinion about this company and its products. They are truly our favorite diffusers and we can recommend them to you without reservation. The products that are accompanied by interviews with their makers were also sent to us by the business owners, who were awarded an opportunity to be featured in our holiday gift guide. All opinions shared are our own. The Lotus Wei aura mists were sent to us as a gift recently and we loved them enough to feature them here. All other products featured in this gift guide were purchased by us over the years and we are happy to recommend them to you.

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!

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ABOUT SYLLA

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.


THE INTERVIEW

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,
Erin

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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!

ABOUT RHIANNON

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. 


THE INTERVIEW

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!

JUST FOR FUN QUESTIONS:

  • 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,
Erin

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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!

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WHO THE EXPERTS ARE

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.

WHERE/WITH WHOM THEY HAVE COMPLETED COURSES

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

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  • 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

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  • 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!


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