Far more than “stuff that smells good”, true aromatherapy differs from the commercialized concept in that it is the study of plant-based healing, not perfumery.

 “So you make candles and stuff?”

I’ve often been asked that question when folks find out I’m an aromatherapist.

I might have found my way to aromatherapy years earlier had the term “aromatherapy” not been such a misnomer. My initial notion of the subject was fairly uninformed. Aromatherapy meant pine-scented candles and girly bath products. It was cute little packaged soaps or a collection of Christmas-themed body washes that smelled like eggnog and gingerbread. Aromatherapy firmly meant “stuff that smells good”. In fact, the word “therapy” was filtered out entirely.

“Stuff that smells good” is exactly what aromatherapy means if scents are solely what one seeks in a product. However, true aromatherapy differs from the commercialized concept in that it is the study of plant-based healing, not perfumery.

When I signed up for my first aromatherapy class, it was out of curiosity about alternative therapy, given that I had a number of health issues at the time. I had no idea what to expect beyond working with essential oils.

If I thought I’d happily left my science classes behind in high school, I was sorely mistaken. The study of aromatherapy meant the in-depth analysis of essential oil composition and the plant parts that yielded them. It meant examining emotional, mental, and physical responses to over 100 essential oils. It meant the careful study of oil and carrier safety. It meant case studies, reports, and exams. It meant learning to listen, assess, and formulate blends for therapeutic use. It meant focus, intuition, and not breaking yet another glass stirring rod.

Over 350 hours of formal study have since yielded a profound respect for the field and for the plants that provide their healing properties. The icing on the proverbial cake is that it was entirely grounded in science. Even the coasters in the classroom featured molecular structures of individual oils. It was downright nerdy.

While I wouldn’t suggest becoming ill as a catalyst for seeking out alternative study, I’m rather grateful I went that route. Otherwise I don’t think I would have ever been introduced to this facet of gentle, natural, of-the-earth therapy. I certainly would not have been inspired to share it with others.

 “So you make candles and stuff?”

No candles, but I do make stuff. Really cool, really natural stuff with the potential to assist in various areas of healing. I get to be creative, I get to have fun, and I get to offer my services to others. A win/win/win.

And yes, sometimes the end result smells good. Really good.