Instead, I want to go a different direction today (aside from my typical recipes, tips, and DIYs) and share some thoughts on the practice of aromatherapy and main stream essential oil use that I have been mulling over for some time now…the grey areas of essential oil use and aromatherapy.
As many of you know, from the moment I started my journey with essential oils I took a stance on safety. I did not just buy into the most popular route that was seemingly everywhere (yes, I’m referring to MLMs). Instead I researched, and researched, and when I thought I was ready to get started, I researched some more. When in doubt, I often would ere on the side of caution (and still do). But does this mean I didn’t make mistakes or try something that I later found out wasn’t the safest? Absolutely not! We all make mistakes and hopefully we are able learn from them and grow as a student and as a professional.
One thing I have learned over the past year is that with aromatherapy, it is not so black and white. It is not as simple as safe or unsafe. If you do a quick online search of aromatherapy/essential oils you will likely find oodles of blogs and posts divided amongst two extremes: the ultra-casual approach which is often characterized by unsafe practices, outrageous health claims, and phrases like “there’s an oil for that” or the super-safe approach often characterized by lots of research, references, and phrases like “always do this or never do that”.
[When it comes to the latter group, I myself have said a lot of these things on social media, in my very own blog posts, and information webpages. While I most often agree with these general rules, they are just that-general, and do not account for specific circumstances that could arise. Going forward I am making an effort to not just point out safety issues and concerns or state rules, but thoroughly explain my reasoning behind them and how we can work within their parameters safely and enjoyably!]
So do we side with the first group and “drink the “cool-aid” so to speak? No! And quite frankly this is something that worries me every day, with the amount of essential oil novices taking this careless advice at their word. But, on the other hand it is not really fair to the history and modern day practice of aromatherapy to limits its possibilities by setting such definitive rules with the “always” and the “nevers”. Doing so doesn’t allow for a truly personalized aromatic experience that connects so uniquely with the individual and their lifestyle.
It’s not that simple. It’s not black and white. It’s not safe or unsafe. It’s many, many shades of gray.
I am not asking anyone to simply abandon what they know, that will not solve this problem or close any gaps. I am not trying to point out that either side is right or wrong, but communicate that there needs to be a more common ground.
I am asking that we all make an effort to do what we do, better. Experience and education go hand in hand. Never stop learning. I like to think that one of the greatest lessons I learned in college was how to determine if a resource was reliable and trustworthy, how to look for signs of bias (a big one in this field), and how to determine the quality and validity of information. This is something that has helped me tremendously in this venture.
I am hoping that we all keep an open mind and an open heart. We may all be on opposite sides of a spectrum but we all share something in common-a deep love for essential oils and the art of aromatherapy. I understand that it can be easy to become defensive when we feel someone is attacking our point of view, especially about something we are so passionate about. I ask that when we share our opinions and thoughts with each other, we do so kindly.
If we can all just share a cup of tea, diffuse some lavender, and talk like old friends…this industry may one day become a lovely shade of gray.