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April 11, 2016 3 min read

Recently while I was on a business trip, I was stopped by a couple who were interested in aromatherapy. The young man asked me a few questions basic questions that I happily answered. Before the conversation ended, he asked me what I could recommend for him to aid in sleeping. My answer: NOTHING.

Why? Because there's no such thing as black & white aromatherapy use.

Why I don’t recommend use of specific essential oils to individuals…

I am sure my response has you confused because most individuals would say lavender or even another essential oil that works well for sleeping. Here is something that not everyone understands though. Not everyone reacts to essential oils the same.

For example, if someone has an allergy to a plant or chemical constituent that is unknown by an aromatherapist, the side effects of using essential oils without a medical history could be quite concerning. Remember, essential oils are comprised of chemical constituents, many of which some individuals, not all, can and do have negative reactions to.

While many individuals can experience the potential therapeutic effects of using essential oils, this is not always the case. There are many things to consider when using essential oils for their potential properties based just on the specific individual an aromatherapist is working with.

  • The medical history of the individual (including allergies & medications)
  • The age of the individual
  • The current condition (healthy, unhealthy, etc) of the individual
  • The condition the individual needs help with
  • The level of experience/use the individual has regarding essential oils
  • The type of aromas or specific essential oils the individual likes

Even once all of this information has been weighed, there is yet even more that an aromatherapist will have to consider.

  • The type of application that can benefit the individual most for their condition
  • The results of skin patch testing
  • The duration of use for the essential oil or blend
  • The frequency of use for the essential oil or blend

Black & White Aromatherapy

So what is black & white aromatherapy?

In the aromatherapy community, I can’t tell you how many times I have seen individuals recommending to use certain essential oils for specific conditions. Sadly, I am unable to count the number of times someone has then contacted me and said, “I think I have had a reaction to xyz essential oil. I was told to use it for abc condition and now I have this concern.”

The idea that because an essential oil is expected to work in a certain way and the expectation that it will do not always happen. This generalization of suggesting essential oils to individuals without knowing all the details based on expectations for therapeutic properties regarding essential oils, is what I refer to as black and white aromatherapy.

As many of you have heard me say, there is not a black and white answer ever in aromatherapy. There may be “an oil for that,” but more often it is better to choose the right oil for you.

It is just as important when choosing an essential oil or synergy of essential oils, that the dose and method of application is appropriate. Because of the many variables between individuals, essentials oils, conditions, etc, there is just not any one black and white answer that can be given ethically.

As mentioned in the previous blog post, this approach where not only the condition is considered, but the individual and everything that concerns them (including the dose and the application), is called balanced aromatherapy.

Balanced Aromatherapy - Be Kind Botanicals

Learning more

All of this information is not something that is learned overnight, a day, a week, a month, or even a year. It takes time, patience, training, and research to really grasp the idea that just because something works for me, it may not work the same for another individual.

It's always important to remember this when someone asks you what you recommend. So, yes, I can help individuals choose oils that are appropriate for them, but not without weighing all the information beforehand.

If you are interested in learning more about becoming an aromatherapist practitioner, I encourage you to do so. I also encourage you to ask your teachers lots of questions and invest your time in learning outside of any programs you choose via research, seminars, reading, etc. You will be amazed at how much more information there is!

P.S. Didn't you think the photo above was relaxing?