My Aromatherapy Journey

lavendar-1153408_1920My journey seems to have began without my awareness. Looking back, the seeds were planted in college back in the 80’s. I loved using essential oils in terra cotta light bulb rings to set the “mood” for getting projects done. I honestly have no idea if they were fragrance oils or essential oils, but I know that aromatic vibe created the perfect mood for many years of successful studying, projects and papers and two degrees. 

Fast forward to 1998. I was a stay-at-home mom with my 6-month old son and decided to take an infant massage class at Aveda. Being a new mom and wanting nothing but the best for my baby, I distinctly remember the warning and always heeded the directions of the licensed massage therapist when she spoke of essential oil safety with children and the importance of dilution.

The class taught us to that only two essential oils, Lavender (Lavendula angustifoila) and Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), were recommended for such young children & always diluted in sweet almond, jojoba or similar base oil for infant massage. Regular massages in the afternoon during his fussy time seemed to miraculously send him off to sleep. A drop of Lavender on a teddy bear in his stroller seemed to make trips to the mall less stressful for us both. A drop of Roman Chamomile on his crib sheet made for a great transition to a restful evening.

By his toddler years, there were no more infant massages for that busy boy, and my remaining essential oils were used to occasionally make bath salts and homemade potpourri. Gradually over the following years, the aromatic and therapeutic use of essential oils somehow slipped away.

That baby is now a high school senior and ironically, a few years ago a friend recommended the use of essential oils to set the “mood” to get his school work done. As a homeschooling family, it was perfect because I could pick the essential oils that appealed solely to him. He quickly found Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) and Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) seem to be the perfect pairing for him, supporting increased alertness & focus which can be a challenge when learning at home. We diffused each school morning with great success. Soon I wanted to explore more beyond these few essential oils that had proven so beneficial to my family.

Interestingly, the timing dove-tailed with my new mission to create a safer home environment by ridding my home of traditional cleaners and home fragrances. I had learned of the benefits of Tea Tree (Melalaeuca alterfornia) for cleaning, laundry and first aid, but still no real awareness of the huge range of essential oils out there that could bring my family to the place I sought.

A quick search of the internet soon revealed a massive explosion in essential oil consumerism that had apparently took place while I had grown oblivious. There was much information to find, but something felt unsettling.

Harkening back to that infant massage class, I recalled the licensed massage therapist and her message of essential oil safety. Somehow, that message was not lining up with what I was hearing from well-meaning friends and seeing on Pinterest and “natural mommy” blogs.

Being the “investigator by nature” that I am, I began to research and soon found myself enthralled in professional sources which had a message quite different than what was being populated on social media & in circles of friends. That digging led me to the knowledge of the practice of aromatherapy on a far greater scale, much deeper in time and across the globe than I ever knew.

It did not take me long to discover that the beautiful botanicals God gave us offer natural medicines & glorious aromatics, but …they must be used with care and in a responsible and educated manner. As a mom, I would be horrified to unintentionally harm my family while thinking I was doing something to help them.

I read a number of accounts by professional aromatherapist of this happening with the recent wide spread home use of essential oils. Paired with those safety guidelines from that infant massage class in 1998,  I knew I had to become an educated user of aromatherapy.

My journey led me to discover  AromaWeb and it’s fantastic directory of educators and schools as well as National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) which I used to research and dig deep and explore this incredible world of aromatherapy. I discovered many of our country’s earliest practitioners and international leaders in this field and followed everything I could by them.

After taking every free class and seminar I could find from some of these amazing educators and schools, I knew that I needed to move to the next level. As I knew I’d never want to stop studying and learning, it made the most sense to invest that time and formally gain knowledge from professional schools.

Earlier this year, after a year of contemplating, I enrolled in aromatherapy school and recently graduated from the Foundations of Aromatherapy certification course at The School for Aromatics Studies. I’m very excited about continuing my education and all that is to come as I explore this beautiful side of aromatic living. It truly feels like a brand-new beginning… Even though looking back first steps on this path began nearly 30 years ago.

Following is a list of educational resources that have been a part of my journey and a great place to start for anyone considering any level of self study or formal education in aromatherapy. I share these with you as many friends ask me about my journey and the sources I find reliable & trustworthy. I hope you find this helpful.

*Some of the links are affiliate links. These are sources I actually use and pleased to refer them based on my own positive experiences. If you use them, thank you.


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AromaWeb is my #1 go-to online aromatherapy resource. Founded in 1997 by clinical aromatherapist, Wendy Robbins, you will find what is likely the world’s most extensive web source of holistic aromatherapy articles plus essential oil, carrier oil and hydrosol profiles, guidelines, directory, recipes and more. They have an extensive directory of books, aromatherapy schools and suppliers, both in the US and internationally.  If you do not know where to start or need quick info, start with AromaWeb!!


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National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy was founded in 1990 is a leading aromatherapy organization in the United States and internationally. Exploring their link called “Explore Aromatherapy” and “Education” tab  was one of the catalysts that changed my understanding of the broader world of aromatherapy. This discovery lead me to appreciate that there was more to using essential oils than DIY home use and personal care recipes found on social media, back of bottles and sales rep friends. They also offer a membership directory to assist in finding an aromatherapist in your area.


Schools of Professional Aromatherapy

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*Aromatic Studies, formerly The Institute of Dynamic Aromatherapy,  was established in 1991 and is one of the founding schools for aromatherapy education in North America.  Jade Shutes, BA, LMT is the founder of the school and past NAHA President. The school offers two professional certifications, Foundations of Aromatherapy and Aromatic Scholars as well as a number of independent certification courses including French Aromatherapy Balms, Butters & Salves; and Organic Body Care. They also offer a Free On-Line Introduction to Aromatherapy Course on how to use essential oils for health and wellness. You can also find Jade sharing her decades of expertise on training videos for free on her VIMEO channel and her blog.

As a current student, I have been overjoyed and grow ever more confident with each class that I found the perfect fit for me. It was a tough decision with some many great options, but I am thrilled that they are part of my journey. I recently completed my Level 1 certification and looking forward to additional courses. f you are interested in know more about my experience so far at Aromatic Studies, I am happy to share my experience.


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Aromahead Institute offers the Free Introductory Course that opened my eyes to the wider world of aromatherapy. Andre Butje, LMT and Clinical Aromatherapist is the founder and is an incredible instructor and ambassador of aromatherapy on both the professional and consumer level. She is also a recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA).

Andrea is the first “real” aromatherapist I ever came across and discovering her changed my world!! I truly thought I would enroll in her school when the time came but ultimately I choose another because the levels were divided into two sections of foundation and scholar which appealed to me as I needed to take one step at a time. I have completed her Introductory course along with many seminars that she so generously offers when you subscribe to her newsletter.

Aromahead Institute is one of the most popular on-line learning certification program in the country, offering specialty courses plus a certification program. Their YouTube channelblog, free recipes and newsletter are a continued source of education for me. If interested, also check out her free live webinar: Reduce Allergies Naturally and others that follow when you subscribe to her newsletter.


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Are you an Auditory Learner? Liz Fulcher, Clinical Aromatherapist & Founder of Aromatic Wisdom Institute School of Creative Aromatherapy, offers what I consider the finest podcast on the subject of aromatherapy. essential oils, hydrosols, natural health and healthy living. Liz has an easy to follow teaching style and a full list of products and links are posted on her website for each podcast.

Listen on iTunes or Stitcher. I listen, walk and learn with Liz!! These podcast are perfect for continued learning as you walk, cook, do housework or just sit and relax for 15-20 minutes. They are invaluable to me as a lifelong learner.

Aromatic Wisdom Institute also offers a blog plus a few inexpensive on-line courses if you want to really dig deep into an area. They also offer some local classes and the heart of the school is the live aromatherapy certification Fall & Spring courses offered at the school in Selinsgrove, PA.


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Atlantic Institute for Aromatherapy, opened it’s doors in 1989 and was founded by the legendary Sylla Sheppard-Hanger, LMT, who serves as Director of Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy/ Instructor. The Tampa, Florida based school offers local workshops and Aromatherapy Practitioners courses in both self-study  and live training.  They have a blog and maintain an essential oil injury report which anyone can submit to anonymously.

Sylla is extremely active in both professional and consumer aromatherapy groups on social media. Recognizing that there is a tremendous lack of education on safe and effective usage for the retail level consumer as essential oils have become mainstream over the past decade, Sylla continuously reaches out to offer education and support to everyday consumers via Facebook groups such as Essential Oil Consumer ReportsBlue Tansy Analysis and her own blog.


Essential Oils, Botanicals & Supplies

10303174_10152503224421991_4042804286229200072_n*Aromatics International offers essential oils, body butters, carriers, hydrosols and supplies. They support organic, wild-crafted, unsprayed, sustainable, ethical and organic farming practices. They are one of the best resources on education, recipes and uses for essential oils I have found. Owned by LMT and Certified Aromatherapist. GC/MS reports for each batch posted on website. Mega bonus: their website is filled with free 200+ recipes! Use this referral link to earn $10.00 after 1st order.


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Nature’s Gift, owned by vintage aromatherapist and author, Marge Clark, is a supplier of clinical quality essential oils and wide range of aromatherapy supplies including gorgeous diffuser jewelry. Nature’s Gift’s essential oils are curated from small distillers around the world rather than mass market suppliers and wholesalers. I dubbed them an essential oil “boutique” because here you will find some of them most amazing botanical products for the truly discriminating customer. Some other unique features are that they offer discounts to licensed health care providers, samples to customers, and support a number of charities with a portion of their proceeds. Sign up for newsletter for monthly savings and a very educational blog.


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Plant Therapy extensive line of essential oils, hydrosols, carriers, supplies and accessories and free shipping. A Kid Safe line of singles, blends and rollerballs  developed with Robert Tisserand are also available. Plant Therapy offers GC/MS reports & has certified aromatherapist on staff and available to assist customers with questions and purchases.


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Still Point Aromatics is a trusted source by many professional aromatherapist and loved by consumers alike.  They offer pure organic, wild harvested and unsprayed essential oils. Ethically farmed products are sourced directly from producers and GC/MS reports available. They also offer hydrosols, carrier oils, resins, base lotions, kits and an extensive range of bottles, inhalers and other supplies for crafting. What I love about them is you can shop by Energetics and Chakras, Aroma, Therapeutic Benefit & Best Sellers.  Also all vital information is available for each essential oil including: Country of Origin, Plant Parts, Cultivation Method, Note Classification,  Method of Extraction, Botanical Family, Chemical Family, Distillation Date, Approx. Shelf Life & Batch Number. Recipes and therapeutic benefits are also given. You can also order in a wide range of sizes from sample size & 5ml all they way up to 16- 32 oz in some cases.


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Floridan Distillery of France is a long time trusted source of certified organic medicinal and aromatic plants by aromatherapy professionals. Offering essential oils, synergy blends, hydrosols, absolutes, tinctures, vegetable & macerated oils, diffusers and more. Country of origin, Cultivation mode, Organic Concentration, Extraction process, Part of the pant, Certificate(s), Analysis Reports, MSDS, IFRA certificate, Properties, & Technical data sheets (TDS). The bonus…these gorgeous tins for safe transport, easy storage or repurposing.


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Mountain Rose Herbs with begins traced to Rosemary Gladstar in 1987, this well known USA company staffed owned by an herbalist with an in-house certified aromatherapist product manager and a host of plant and eco lovers, they bring us thousands of options ranging from essential oils, carrier oils, hydrosols, waxes, buttes, supplies, salves, elixirs, tinctures, extracts, herb, teas, seasonings, bags, jars, containers and more. They carry many certifications including Oregon Tilth Certified Organic, USDA organic, Fair for Life, Non GMO Project, Earth Share, Earth Kosher, CarbonFund and more. A fantastic resource if you are looking to buy for personal use or all of the ingredients needed to start your own line!  MRH offers great customer education though their blog and YouTube Channel.  Check out their playlist for Aromatherapy and Essential Oils including the 3-part series on Essential Oil for Beginners. If interested in herbal education, check out the list of schools they offer.


Recommended Books

 Great List at Aromaweb.com

Video on some of the books for everyday living that I use with my own family.

It is my hope that found some of this helpful as you journey on your aroma path. Whether you interest is simply natural wellness for your family; embarking on a new aromatherapy career, enhancing your current holistic business, or starting an aromatic product line, each of these sources have something to offer.

Thank you to all of my friends who have supported me and are sharing in my journey. It would be a lonely path without you!

XO, Hope Maria