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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.

Marketing Terms – Guest Post, Martin Watt

In the middle 1990’s, the new trade organisations in the UK, the EOTA and Aromatherapy Trade Council (ATC), organised two meetings with an adviser to the Medicines Control Agency. The MCA had started to flex their muscles over medicinal claims which were banned way back in 1969, but which many aromatherapy outlets were ignoring. At this meeting, participants were given a list of terms that it was agreed we could use in trade literature relating to essential oils. It was made clear at that meeting that no words could be used which related to the physical medicinal uses of essential oils, unless the condition referred to was classified as a ‘normal life event’ such as morning sickness, birth, menstruation, menopause, etc. Many members of the Aromatherapy organisations attended that meeting. Most of them have more or less complied with these guidelines.

Permitted words:


Additional terms:


Relating to colds and catarrh: IDEAL DURING COLDS SEASON

This was a list of some of the permitted terms allowed in the UK in the past, but may not be the same in the USA.

Martin Watt


FOOTNOTE: One of the benefits of Membership in the AEOTA, will be guidance documents, verified by the FDA, regarding acceptable cosmetic marketing terms for essential oils. You have questions, we will have answers…

Essential Oil Use in Professional Settings

Does the practice of using essential oils medically violate FDA regulations?

No. This was confirmed to me today with the following email reply:

States regulate how essential oils and aromatherapy products are used in professional settings - not the FDA.

So an AEOTA Member who accepts the Ethics Statement and agrees to follow FDA regulations, would not be in violation of FDA regulations (or the AEOTA Ethics Statement) if they used essential oils “off label” for medicinal purposes as part of their profession. The FDA regulations concern manufacturing, packaging, labeling and storage. Members do however, have to follow State Laws which regulate any licensing or CAM practices. Learn more about Aromatherapy and the Law.

What does Certified Aromatherapist mean?

The answer is…it depends!

In Australia, the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA) has ‘recognised professional’ training requirements in the field of aromatherapy.

“Aromatherapy is practiced by practitioners whose practice has been defined by the Government National Health Training Package HLT51407 introduced in 2002. An Aromatherapist is a practitioner trained in Aromatherapy principles, philosophy and practice and uses volatile plant oils for psychological and physical well-being. Aromatherapists blend therapeutic essential oils for individuals and recommend methods of use such as topical application, massage, inhalation or water immersion to stimulate desired responses.”

So you can’t even call yourself an aromatherapist in Australia unless you have completed the approved Health Training requirements.

In Canada, the profession is self-regulated, but clearly defined and the terms trademark protected. The Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists…

“…has set standards for certification, safety and professional conduct for its members. A core curriculum has been established that our schools must follow and writing the CFA National Exam is a requirement for membership. Our members are entitled to use the legal designation CAHP (Certified Aromatherapy Health Professional) which is only available and applicable to CFA members.”


“To graduate from a CFA approved program, students must complete 400 educational hours and pass the standardized national CFA exam.”

The CAHP designation is protected under the Canadian trademark laws.

The Alliance of International Aromatherapists (AIA) defines the term Qualified Aromatherapist as…

“one who has completed a recognized training in aromatherapy at the minimum level of 200 educational contact hours (such as approved by the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy or the Alliance of International Aromatherapists) or has been recognized through a standardized exam, such as provided by the Aromatherapy Registration Council.”

Many Qualified Aromatherapists in the USA belong to the AIA.

The United States has no Federal regulations for the practice of aromatherapy. Laws for the practice vary by state.

The title “Certified Aromatherapist” has no recognized or legal meaning at all in the USA.

Individuals who call themselves Certified Aromatherapists range from those who have attended a Sunday afternoon class, and leave with a certificate of attendance, proclaiming they are now a “Certified Aromatherapist” – to individuals who have degrees in the practice of medicine, but have only attended marketing classes held by the brand they were recruited to sell – to individuals with advanced training in aromatic medicine...and everything in between.

The only recognized title in the USA with any formal recognition within the Aromatherapy community in the USA, is “Registered Aromatherapist™ (RA™)“. This title is available to those who have passed the Aromatherapy Registration Council exam. Learn more from the The Aromatherapy Registration Council at


Week 3 Progress Report

  • The American Essential Oil Trade Association, dba AEOTA, is currently in the fundraising stage with the goal of founding a business league, aka trade association. As of this morning, we are at 84% of GOAL! ($4,000)
  • Our next step will be to form a company; LLC or INC (TBD).
  • Once established, we will apply to the IRS for tax-exempt status under IRC 501(c)(6).

“Reg. 1.501(c)(6)-l defines a business league as an association of persons having a common business interest, whose purpose is to promote the common business interest and not to engage in a regular business of a kind ordinarily carried on for profit.” — ref.

  •  Our common business interest is to promote the safe and legal sale of essential oils and aromatherapy products in the USA.

One of the basic characteristics of an IRC 501(c)(6) is, its activities must be directed to the improvement of business conditions of one or more lines of business.

  • Looser FDA regulations pertaining to the marketing claims which can be made for many essential oils, will be an improvement of business conditions; as will clearer and more easily understood labeling and marketing requirements.


  • The FDA regulates the labeling and marketing of essential oils as cosmetics.
  • FDA regulations prohibit any medical claims in that labeling and marketing; it is illegal to imply essential oils can cure, treat or prevent disease.


  • It is our position that a more effectively self-regulated industry will result in less opportunities for the FDA to need to step in and implement corrective action on violations or initiate regulatory additional action in order to protect the public.
  • It is also our position that certain essential oils are just as safe as many of the FDA-approved over-the-counter medicines and we will attempt to amend the FDA rules (monographs) to allow for a limited number of medical claims, all of which are currently illegal.

AEOTA Membership: 

  1. Businesses which apply for Membership will need to agree with our Ethics Statement, as well as to having their website(s) and social networking sites reviewed for compliance with current US Federal and/or state laws for advertising, labeling and marketing essential oils or aromatherapy products.
  2. After the review, Members names will be added to the AEOTA website as a Member in Good Standing, as well as be entitled to any additional Member Benefits based on the Level of Membership (dues).
  3. Members websites will also undergo periodic review for continued compliance.
  • The purpose of the initial review, as well as periodic reviews, will be for the purpose of establishing and maintaining standards of quality in labeling and marketing essential oils and aromatherapy products, which mirror the requirements of US Federal and/or state laws, with the goal of effective self-regulation.
  • The AEOTA will have a “seal of approval” similar to a Health Department Grade, which Members in Good Standing, will be eligible to display on their print and digital marketing and labeling, as long as they remain a Member in Good Standing of the AEOTA.

Do I need to sell EOs?

Q. Is this an association just for people who sell essential oils?

A. No! Our members include people who sell essential oils, but also people/companies who sell aromatherapy products like soap or skincare which contain essential oils.Take soap for example; soap is either “True Soap”; or a cosmetic; or a drug. Same soap…same ingredients. The regulatory category depends on how the soap is marketed and whether any claims are made on the label or implied by the marketing. The FDA has a very helpful page all about this: Is It a Cosmetic, a Drug, or Both? (Or Is It Soap?)


AA011548And our future efforts to more clearly define or amend the claims people can make for the essential oils in their products, will benefit the person selling an individual essential oil as much as it will a person selling a soap that they wish they could advertise is helpful for acne, as opposed to the way they legally are forced to market that same soap now; using only cosmetic claims.

Our members will also include suppliers who sell products to others in the essential oil industry, and we will have advertising opportunities both on our website and in our eNewsletter. Examples might be a lab which conducts GC/MS testing of essential oils, or a supplier who sells bottles for essential oils or lotions. We hope that our advertisers will consider offering Discounts for AEOTA Members in the future as well. The key word in Trade Association is association, and our cooperative alliances will be beneficial to all of our Members.

And of course, consumers who use essential oils for personal use as well as professionals such as nurses, massage therapists and aromatherapists who use essential oils in their professional practice are key members of this trade association! Our effort to self-regulate with safety, ethics and integrity is the most important issue which we all have in common regardless of how essential oils are part of our lives!

Questions? Find us on Facebook!

We’re working on starting a whole new Trade Association in the Essential Oil industry.  We’re sure you’ve got questions! We’ve answered a lot of them already in our Facebook Group. So why not join, read through the past topics and comments and of course, if you have any questions – please feel free to ask!  All we ask of visitors is to please read through this website and the past topics first so we don’t cover topics which have been addressed already.


What is a Trade Association?

What is a Trade Association?

“Trade associations are organizations that create a means for businesses involved in a given industry to interact to the mutual benefit of all concerned. Funded by contributions made by the member companies, the association often functions as a means of enhancing the public image of the industry in general, or providing a unified voice to lobby on matters of legislation that are anticipated to have an impact on the industry. Along with these two important functions, this type of association may also provide a forum to educate the general public about a given industry and its chief products.”

“Trade associations and professional associations are considered business leagues.”

Don’t you need to be incorporated in order to be a Trade Association?

“The first stage in the life cycle of any organization is its creation. A nonprofit organization may be created as a corporation, a trust, or an unincorporated association.”

We are currently in the first stage, creation. We are fundraising with the goal of creating a Trade Association (also referred to as a Business League). We are currently an unincorporated association of interested contributors.