Embrace the Grey

Posted by Lauren Bridges on

This was the first ever blog post written for The Aromapologist in February, 2017. 
The essential oil community has come a long way in the last couple of years in beginning to recognize that not everything regarding the use of these substances is black and white. Aromatherapy, if you will, has its own (G-rated) version of 50 Shades of Grey in which we can take the multitude of cautions and rules out there and add a but after them.

This is not saying that safety and cautions are obliterated and that these elements that are so crucial to our craft do not exist; however, I am saying that the parameters of that safety and those cautions are often much broader than the self-taught or internet enthusiast may realize.

In other words, there’s a time and a place for much more than people may think and room to ease up on some of the dogma that has now pervaded our community.

We have general recommendations for a reason. In general, they are good guidelines for the masses without a more specialized knowledge to follow. These guidelines also provide adequate parameters for the kind of therapeutic use that is appropriately managed in the home. Many times, they are also reflective of what aromatherapists themselves will recommend when they are come to for help. And for good reason. Essential oils are usually quite effective in low dilutions and doses. But these guidelines do not reflect the ultimate extent of what is therapeutically appropriate even though there seem to be many that are under this impression.

Sometimes, we can step outside of that box when it’s necessary with brilliant results being the endgame. Now, we do stress to people that they should be seeking the appropriate consultation for use outside of the general guidelines. Again, there’s a time and a place, but that place is best served under the guidance of someone with training in this area who can help you adequately weigh the risks and benefits. But we have to get away from the idea that anything outside of these guidelines is wrong.

Aromatherapists witness frequently our most respected experts and professionals being put on the receiving end of a misplaced lecture by an enthusiast who, while they usually mean well, has not yet come to understand that aromatherapy encompasses so much more than what is shared on social media. This is especially the case with Facebook. While the social media site is an excellent medium to gather together and discuss a common interest, it really is not a good platform for aromatherapy education. Fact: even a lot of the more responsible groups available to interact in are not giving aromatherapy a fair representation.

Now, contrary to the notion that some have about the ability of essential oils to interact with medical conditions and medications, there are concerns that have to be taken into account. And, the more one steps outside of the general recommendations, the greater the need to pay close attention to these concerns. In terms of skin safety, potential toxicity, the load on the lungs, the effect on the nervous system, etc., these things do matter. Since this is the case, it is absolutely understandable that people and therapists alike are expressing caution on matters. Unfortunately, coming to an understanding of what may be appropriate from a home use perspective compared to a practitioner-led therapeutic recommendation is even harder sometimes because we are facing disharmony within the professional community about what is appropriate/ inappropriate.

So, that all being said, we have a lot to talk about.

In the coming months I hope to discuss these issues under the framework of particular topics such as internal use, dilution, use with babies and children, issues with variances in aromatherapy schooling, and many more.

But first we’re going to have a chat about logical fallacies and their impact on the greater aromatherapy community. It is an enormous problem we are currently facing, and you’ll be surprised to see just how much falling victim to this way of thinking can impact the capability to really grasp and understand the breadth and depth that aromatherapy has to offer.  Keep an eye out. It may end up being a series. I’m not quite sure yet.

Either way, it is a long overdue conversation that we need to come together and have – both the professional and enthusiast communities.

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