Monthly Archives: January 2015

ARC announces “Raindrop” Policy

The Aromatherapy Registration Council hereby formally clarifies its prohibition on the use or the teaching of “Raindrop Therapy”.


Read the complete official Statement of Policy

To read the complete White Paper on Raindrop Therapy go to

Thank you to AEOTA Member, Kristin Barber, co-author of the White Paper, for her valuable contribution to our knowledge about the safe use of essential oils and practices.


Sensitization – “exposure to allergen that results in the development of hypersensitivity.” [1]

essential oil female back spa

So what is hypersensitivity? Is a hypersensitivity reaction the same as an allergic reaction?

Answer, yes. They are synonyms, BUT there are four different types of allergic reaction:
“a local or general reaction of an organism following contact with a specific allergen to which it has been previously exposed and sensitized; immunologic mechanisms gives rise to inflammation or tissue damage. Allergic reactions are classified into four major types: type I, anaphylactic and IgE dependent; type II, cytotoxic; type III, immune-complex mediated;type IV, cell mediated (delayed).”[2]

For the purposes of aromatherapy safety, any essential oil can become an allergen by using it undiluted on the skin; and this risk is there for all essential oils, including lavender. So while there are certain essential oils which have a known reputation for being potential allergens or with a reputation for sensitization, using any essential oil neat (undiluted) sets the individul up for a potential allergic reaction, leading to sensitization, and forever being allergic to that essential oil.


Robert Tisserand explains:


“Yes, sensitization is the process that takes place in the body that leads to an allergic reaction. They are not the same thing, but they are not totally different either. There are 4 types of allergic reaction, [3] but only two are relevant to essential oils. Type 4 (delayed hypersensitivity) accounts for 90% of allergic reactions. Type 1 is immediate hypersensitivity (generally not anaphylactic) and accounts for the other 10%. You could say the risk is potentially there for all essential oils, but this is a little unfair on the majority of oils, that have never been known to cause such reactions. I don’t like to assume risk that may not exist. The less you dilute the more you increase risk, but that doesn’t mean that undiluted copaiba oil is a greater risk than 1% cinnamon bark oil. It isn’t.”

To learn more, see the video which is a sample from Webinar 4 “Irritation and Allergy” from Essential Oils and the Skin 10-Day Series by the Tisserand Institute:

1. Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc. All rights reserved
2. Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012


If you have spent any time online, learning about or shopping for essential oils, you may have run across testimonials or advice regarding concerns pertaining to side effects. Too often, instead of good, professional information, you may read that these adverse reactions or side effects are the result of “detox“. They aren’t. They CAN’T BE…because that is not the way the human body works. One of the best explainations I found was not actually on an aromatherapy site or holistic health site, but one about smoothies!

“The idea that there are accumulated toxins in your body waiting to be released (usually with the aid of an expensive detox product) is misleading because your body is always in a state of detox. Whether you eat the purest of pure diets, or your live on pizza, beer and ice cream, your body never stops detoxification. As long as you have a functioning liver, kidney and colon, your body is removing toxins.” 

Side effects such as nausea, headaches, itchiness, skin irritations, excess mucous, diarrhea, and more are NOT DETOX REACTIONS.

Any reaction to an essential oil that was not intended could be viewed as an adverse effect. These effects can range from minor and discomforting to much more serious and permanent. 

To learn more, visit the Aromatherapy United page; What is an ADVERSE EFFECT from an Essential Oil?

We invite comments, and will allow them as long as they remain respectful and do not contain marketing or promotional material for any specific brands of essential oils. We invite readers to continue this discussion in our American Essential Oil Trade Association Facebook Group.


Shelf Life of Essential Oils

You may have read this on certain essential oil salespeoples websites “Our Essential Oils Never Expire“!

Well, essential oils do have shelf lives…of course they do, they are botanical products made from plants! 


“Most oils do degrade with age due to oxidation but there are some oils, such as sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli, etc. that actually get better with age, at least to a certain point (I am not sure anyone knows what sandalwood looks like after say 5000 years and I am pretty sure well before then the oil would “resinify” and become solid). Its typically the heavier oils that are high in sesquiterpene alcohols that get better with age.   However, most oils, especially the citrus oils and the blue oils will degrade with age (at least within human lifetimes).  Citrus oils are especially prone to degradation due to the high levels of limonene which oxidizes relatively easily. Even very small amounts of limonene oxide formation can totally destroy the odor of a once good citrus oil.  In addition, wax formation in citrus due to monoterpene polymerization is also quite common over time.  For this reason its best to go through citrus oils within a year, if possible.” – Dr. Robert Pappas, Essential Oil University

Question asked of author Robert Tisserand: How long will my essential oils keep?

“It depends when you start the clock. If you time it from the moment of distillation, you have to know when that was, and most of the time we don’t know that. And, an essential oil in a full, unused bottle will stay fresh for a long time. So – start the clock when you first open the bottle, and use the following guideline for essential oils that are refrigerated:

Citrus fruit, neroli, lemongrass, frankincense, tea tree, pine and spruce oils – 1-2 years

Virtually every other essential oil – 2-3 years

Sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli – 4-8 years

For non-refrigerated oils, halve these numbers, especially in warm climates. Keep it simple: keep them in a fridge! If you haven’t kept your essential oils refrigerated up to now, it’s not too late to start.” — Robert Tisserand, Keep Your Essential Oils Cool

There are no FDA requirements to list expiration dates or “best used by” dates on essential oils.  However, the “Guidance Policy for Labeling of Undiluted Essential Oils Used Topically and Offered for Retail Sale” from the American Herbal Products Association does recommend An expiration date or date of manufacture.

INDUSTRY WARNING: beware of any company which claims that their essential oils never expire or brag that they do not have an expiration date!

Eighteen Years Later…

Who is Steering Eighteen Years Later?

“The “Purdue initiative” was the name given to a group of people involved in the aromatherapy industry who took the Aromatherapy program at Purdue in 1996 and 1997. The group showed concern for:

  • A perceived lack of education standards in the aromatherapy industry
  • Instances of unsafe practices
  • The prospect of the FDA regulating the sale of essential oils if the FDA perceived a need to act to protect public safety
  • The prospect of governmental regulation if the industry was not able to provide a self regulation system.
  • The lack of any independent credential available to a person in the industry.” [ref.]

Eighteen years later and the essential oil industry and the aromatherapy community are still facing the exact same challenges.

The education standards in the aromatherapy industry range from an afternoon of sales and marketing training in selling essential oils, to 30 hours for a Foundation Level set by NAHA to 100 hours for the exact same “Foundation Level” set by the AIA. And in reality, these standards are not enforced…people still refer to themselves as an aromatherapist with no actual training, and any multi-level-marketing salesperson can hand her classroom of recruits a certificate titled “Certified Aromatherapist” when they leave with their new sales kit!

Unsafe practices have led to liver failure, permanent scarring, sensitization, comas and even death. And the only national association in the USA in the field of aromatherapy, not only failed to keep records of injuries reported to them, they disbanded their safety committee entirely! Keeping track of this data has fallen to volunteers as a result!

The FDA has sent Warning Letters for medical claims ranging from life threatening claims such as marketing essential oils to treat cancer, to ones which are not only safe – but appropriate – like using tea tree for acne.  And yet the FDA DSHEA allows for the most hazardous and fraudulent marketing of essential oils as nutritional supplements to be ingested in water on a daily basis, and yet that is all completely legal.

The industry not only does not self-regulate effectively, but attempts to establish a realistic and appropriate system of self regulation, this American Essential Oil Trade Association, is viewed by some with fear. We have contributors who to this day, choose to remain anonymous because of threats made against them if they show us any public support.

Promoting SAFETY is characterized by some, as “fearmongering”. Empowerment is valued over education by big business. Our industry has completely lost the holistic aspect of holistic aromatherapy, essential oils are pushed like drugs…except it’s often friends and family we trust doing the pushing, or people with a reputable standing in the community; pretty bottles and slick packaging, instead of white powder in baggies.

The only measurable progress made in 18 years is an independent credential available to a person in the industry, that of Registered Aromatherapist™. The Aromatherapy Registration Council which evolved out of the “Purdue initiative” and the original Steering Committee which followed, has been successful in creating a standard, with recognized credentials and true meaning within the Aromatherapy Community. But, until the other titles people appoint themselves, such as Certified Aromatherapist, are also defined and credentialed, consumers are going to continue to assume anyone who refers to themselves as a Certified Aromatherapist, has some measurable and acceptable base of knowledge about essential oils and aromatherapy.  There needs to be some *thing* in between no education other than marketing, and the level required to sit for the exam and become a Registered Aromatherapist™.

A criteria needs to be set and a title which indicates a basic foundation of knowledge, established and trademarked. Someone who has a 30-hour basic foundation level understanding of aromatherapy and essential oil safety should be able to document that, by some standard which is recognized. But this is not the role of the AEOTA.  NAHA or the AIA should set some kind of criteria for the title Certified Aromatherapist, or come up with some other title and credentials which has meaning in our industry. Waiting 18 years is long enough.