Suppose you’ve ever needed to manage pain, improve sleep quality, reduce your overall stress or anxiety, soothe sore joints, ease the discomforts of labor, improve your digestion, or boost your immune system. In that case, you’ve likely looked around for various solutions to those issues.
Many interested in alternative health therapies are now turning to aromatherapy to address these issues.
Is aromatherapy a fad?
While some look at aromatherapy with skepticism, the truth is that using essential oils for women (or anyone) to promote well-being and overall health has been around for thousands of years.
Indeed, many ancient cultures from China, Persia, Egypt, and India all employed aromatherapy in one fashion or another. Today, the practice has gained standing in some areas of modern medicine and science. Because of that, one can hardly claim that aromatherapy is simply a passing fancy.
It’s thought that aromatherapy works by stimulating the nose’s smell receptors. These then send signals through the body’s nervous system to the part of the brain that controls your emotions.
When used as directed, essential oils are generally safe. It’s important to note, though, that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate essential oils.
But should you hire an aromatherapist?
The answer to that question depends on whether you believe essential oils are able to provide the healing benefits you may be seeking. If you do, it may be worth your while to seek out and hire an aromatherapist who has studied to gain certification in this field of alternative medicine.
That’s true even if you’ve been using essential oils yourself for years. An aromatherapist with experience can often provide you with invaluable insight that you may not garner on your own.
For example, a knowledgeable aromatherapist can accurately answer any questions you might have on issues such as potential interactions between any medications you might be taking and the essential oils you want to use. They can also help with things like dosage and application methods.
Remember to ask about fees because most aromatherapists set their own. Check around and compare. Also be sure to ask if the cost of materials is included in any visit charges.
What does an aromatherapist do?
Anyone who calls themselves an aromatherapist must be proficient with the tools of the trade. They need to know how to professionally infuse natural oils with essential oils and properly apply them to their patients’ bodies.
Examples of these types of tools are:
- Aromatic spritzers
- Bathing salts
- Body oils, lotions, or creams for topical application or massage
- Clay masks
- Dry evaporators
- Facial steamers
- Hot and cold compresses
It’s also possible that they’ll use oils that the patient must inhale or consume orally. A professional aromatherapist must know how to use hydrosols. They must also know how to use essential oils to take their clients through relaxation techniques, massage, and detoxification.
It’s important to know that aromatherapists don’t provide any medical diagnosis. Neither do they treat medical conditions, as specified by the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA).
Rather, the NAHA expects aromatherapists to adapt their knowledge of essential oils to the clients’ needs, whether for relaxation or aesthetic purposes.
For example, the aromatherapist may feel it is necessary to combine essential oils in a mixture that is unique to the client. The aromatherapist needs a deep understanding of the oils involved and how they work together to ensure their treatments are tailored to the individual.
Most aromatherapists work full- or part-time from home, running a private practice with their own shop, and are self-employed. However, many also work in spas, yoga studios, or medical clinics.
Make sure your aromatherapist is certified
Although they aren’t required to be licensed like a medical professional (there are guidelines, of course, but these are not enforced or monitored by any regulatory body), aromatherapists are able to gain certification through the NAHA. Acquiring certification takes about 200 hours of practice and training in aromatherapy.
Also, those who wish to become certified aromatherapists must obtain a deep understanding of anatomy and physiology. Those certified through the NAHA will also learn about botany subjects, techniques for blending chemicals and oils, and how to apply them to the human body in a safe manner.
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