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Aromatherapy Therapy Basics 2003

Aromatherapy Therapy Basics 2003

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Due to the fact that essential oils are concentrated substances and are toxic if misused, great care must be taken
when storing and handling them:

❃Store in dark glass bottles in normal to cool temperatures (approx. 65 F/18 C), with lids secured tightly to
prevent evaporation.

❃Store all essential oils out of the reach of children.

❃Keep essential oils away from naked flames, as they are highly flammable.

❃Take care when handling essential oil bottles to ensure that your skin does not come into contact with the
undiluted oil, and so that you avoid transferring it from your hands to more sensitive parts (e.g. nose, face
and neck).

❃Wash hands thoroughly in between clients, to remove as much of the oil as possible.

❃Avoid using oils if your skin is cracked and sore.

All essential oils sold for professional and home use should carry safety precautions in their labelling.

An independent body, the Aromatherapy Trade Council (ATC), was formed in 1992 by responsible essential
oils suppliers.

Safety in Aromatherapy

17

The ATC:

❃represents the aromatherapy essential oil industry in the UK.

❃works proactively and effectively to ensure the sector is represented on all relevant statutory and non-
statutory bodies, thereby influencing policy decisions at all levels of regulation and legislation.

❃co-ordinates the views of the industry and represents them to the appropriate authority.

❃obtains policy statements on, and interpretation and clarification of, the current regulatory position from
the relevant competent authorities.

❃establishes guidelines for safety, labelling and packaging for the aromatherapy trade.

❃acts as a focal point for public and media enquiries on the sector.

❃supplies sound information and advice to members and the public.

❃promotes genuine high standards of quality in essential oils within the industry by education and public

relations.

❃has a policy for the random testing of its members’ oils.

❃publishes a General Information Booklet and a list of current members.

❃gives guidelines as to what is permissible on the labels and in promotional material for aromatherapy
products and publishes a leaflet entitled ‘Responsible Marketing & The Medicines Control Agency’.

❃offers a service to its members and potential suppliers of aromatherapy products to review labels and
publicity material prior to printing to ensure they comply with the complexities of the law.

❃liaises with the media on a regular basis to ensure good public relations, with offers either to write
aromatherapy articles or to check journalists’ articles for accuracy, so that sound information is provided to
the public for their protection.

❃works closely with the aromatherapy profession through the Aromatherapy Organisations Council (AOC)
and other organisations:

–to promote training and education;

–to advise on regulatory issues relating to the aromatherapy trade;

–to promote the responsible use of aromatherapy products;

–to ensure the needs of the profession are appropriately served by the aromatherapy trade.

The Code of Practice recommended by the ATC includes the following:

The ATC has a policy for the non-ingestion of essential oils and for the general public only to use essential oils
externally unless advised otherwise by a qualified aromatherapist. It is for this reason that all members are
required to state clearly on the labels of their products ‘For external use only’ or ‘Do not take internally’.

Responsible marketing – warnings and information

All promotional material should give clear guidelines as to how essential oils are to be used, giving
recommended dilutions where necessary. To comply with the consumer safety requirement, the following
warnings and information must be printed on the consumer product label:

❃Clear instructions for use, e.g. add 5 drops of essential oil to 10 ml of carrier or 6 drops in a bath.

❃Keep away from children and eyes.

❃Do not take internally or apply undiluted to the skin.

Aromatherapy: Therapy Basics Second Edition

18

❃The quantity supplied, e.g. 10 ml.

❃The company name.

❃Company address or post code.

❃Batch code number.

❃Botanical and common name of the plant.

Regulation of essential oils and aromatherapy products

Inordertocomplywithconsumerlegislation,essentialoilsuppliershaveadutytocarryoutresponsiblemarketing.

The Medicines Act 1968 states that no medicinal claims can be made on labels, promotional material or advertised
regarding products that have not been licensed.

Essential oils are well regulated by legislation; and the diverse end products of the aromatherapy industry
(cosmetics and pre-blended oils) fall under different regulatory regimes.

From the safety control viewpoint, they fall into three potential categories:

1Herbal remedies (that is, medicinal products) exempt from licensing when mixed, administered or sold by
aromatherapists in the course of their business. No medicinal claims may be made since essential oils are
not licensed products. The Medicines Act Leaflet (MAL.8) gives guidance on their regulation and can be
accessed through the Medicines Control Agency’s (MCA) website at

www.open.gov.uk/mca/ourwork/licensingmeds/herbalmeds/herbalmeds.htm

2Cosmetics, e.g. ready-blended aromatherapy products using essential oils/carrier oils, bath oils, etc., sold to
the public, are subject to the Cosmetic Product (Safety) Regulations 1996. A guide to these regulations is
available free of charge from your local Trading Standards Office.

3General Products, i.e. essential oils sold to the public, are subject to the General Product Safety Regulations
1994, a copy of which is also available from Trading Standards.

There are therefore legal controls to protect the consumer:

❃The MCA deals with manufacturers who make medicinal claims without an appropriate marketing
authorisation (medicines’ licence).

❃Trading Standards deal with those who sell adulterated essential oils or incorrectly label their products.

Safety in Aromatherapy

There is often confusion between the terms ‘essential oil’ and
‘aromatherapy oil’.

Essential oilsare extracted by distillation or, in the case of citrus oils, by
expression from a single botanical species. Once the primary process of
distillation or expression has been completed, nothing further should be
added.

Anaromatherapy oilis a blend of undefined percentages consisting of
diluents (usually vegetable oils) and essential oils (and sometimes with
absolutes) and is suitable for use without further dilution.

Key Note

19

Complete the following table to identify the type of hazard associated
with essential oils.

Task

Aromatherapy: Therapy Basics Second Edition

20

In order to comply with consumer legislation, essential oils suppliers have
a duty to carry out responsible marketing.

The Medicines Act 1968 clearly states that no medicinal claims can be
made on labels, promotional material or advertisements regarding products
that have not been licensed. This means that no aromatherapy product can
make remedial claims if it relates to a specific disease or adverse condition.

Key Note

Essential oil taken orally in a high lethal dose; can be fatal.

High levels of essential oils are applied to skin, and cause
systemic toxicity; affects liver and kidneys.

Photochemical reaction that takes place in skin by
combination of phototoxic oil and ultra-violet rays.

Localised inflammation of skin, caused by essential oil reacting
with the mast cells of skin, releasing histamine. Affects skin
and mucous membrane and is dose-dependent.

Allergic reaction to an essential oil, involves an immune
response by releasing histamine and causes the T-lymphocytes
to become sensitised. Reaction may be slight on first exposure
to allergen but on repeated exposure skin may appear blotchy
and irritated. Is not dose-dependent.

Hazard

Description

✽Table 2: Hazards associated with essential oils ✽

Safety in Aromatherapy

21

1.Why is safety an important factor when using essential oils?

2.State ten safety precautions to be taken into account when practising aromatherapy.

3.State five conditions that may contra-indicate aromatherapy treatment, stating the action
required in each case.

Self-assessment Questions

4.State five safety factors to be taken into account when storing essential oils.

5.State five essential oils that are unsafe to use in aromatherapy.

6.List five safety factors that should be on the label of essential oil bottles sold for
professional and home use.

Aromatherapy: Therapy Basics Second Edition

22

❃A competent aromatherapist must know the nature and effects of essential oils in order to understand the
physical and psychological effects of aromatherapy treatments.

23

CHAPTER 3

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