It’s true. There is a tendency to blame unsafe practices and the overuse of essential oils on these kinds of companies, and that’s not without cause.
But it’s also not the whole story.
In 2013, Sylla wrote a series of blogs she calls, “Confessions of a Vintage Aromatherapist,” and one of those confessions was “I LOVE MLM Companies.”
Given some recent experiences, she decided to write an update on this post. Here it is:
I confess. I’ve said many negative things in the past about the multi-level marketing (MLM) companies that have sprung up in the last 20 years. I don’t like the way they operate using “pseudo” science, promoting extreme undiluted use and daily doses in water or capsules. I’ve accused them and judged them and called them names, and I’ve walked around with my feathers ruffled for some time. But I realized that this toxic anger actually harms me, and I’ve been learning how to release it. In doing so, I’ve come to understand how important this process is to my well-being. I’ve also discovered a few good things about these companies who I’ve treated like enemies, and it feels so much better to think about them in this light. The truth is, I’m actually thankful for them for several reasons.
First, they have been the single most influential factor in the exponential increase of people using essential oils throughout the last 15 to 20 years. I thought we did a good job after 9/11 of spreading the word on how helpful oils can be daily, but these companies get the award for inspiring the most widespread use in the masses. In a way, they’ve stolen my dream. I decided a long time ago that I wanted to help the world through aromatherapy, and these companies are so big now that my education has become a drop in the bucket. I still don’t agree with their methods, but they’re able to appeal to and introduce aromatherapy to people who may not have ever tried it, and thus they have opened a new population up to the oils that we love. This has had a huge impact worldwide, and oils are no longer considered “taboo” or “new age”.
Secondly, I have met some wonderful people who got started with these companies but moved on when they realized something was missing. Many people learned basic introductions from these companies and then became deeper seekers of truth and knowledge without the hoopla and sales pitches. This makes “IPCs” or “wellness consultants” tremendous sources for new students and customers for the educators and essential oil businesses in our field. Sure, some of these beginners may never move forward from where they start, but plenty will, and they are going to need the quality education and products that we already provide. Ideally, we should let go of the idea that it’s “us” against “them” and see that we’re all in this together. One by one, I’ve helped so many students see that education is empowerment, and that we make good choices once we realize what we don’t know!
Thirdly, I’ve found that once these new students have some knowledge to work with, they begin asking great questions. They make us research and look into their claims, and that process can impact all of us in many healthy ways. The whole industry has experienced a growth of knowledge and information in the last few years because of this. They also keep me on my toes. Now, whenever I hear a new claim, I go look at the research for myself, which gives me a good mystery to follow up on. In fact, one company created a fabulous research database that includes many oils and is freely accessible to all.
Another great result is that our students are challenged and intrigued by the things these companies and their associates put out, and they end up following rabbit holes and producing some fabulously-referenced papers that shake things up—something I love to see happening!!!
Finally, because of their financial power, they are able to donate to hospitals, including large donations for wellness centers, so more oils are available to those receiving care. This is a great leap forward into helping aromatherapy become more mainstream in integrative care. And this is big in my book.
More recently, I found the most wonderful set of books that I now use exclusively. And guess what, they are by Dr. Scott Johnson, who is now with DoTerra. I have enjoyed using his earlier book Evidence-Based Essential Oil Therapy: The Ultimate Guide to the Therapeutic and Clinical Application of Essential Oils. Scott and I connected over a Facebook post, began conversing, and I realized that I totally missed this book Medicinal Essential Oils: The Science and Practice of Evidence-Based Essential Oil Therapy because I had my blinders on. Once I reviewed it, I saw what a valuable resource this is for our community. Then I discovered even more, a book called Supercritical Essential Oils: A Companion Resource to Medicinal Essential Oils, which covers all the CO2 extracts and more, including herbal therapy. These two giant books are fully-referenced and are my new go-tos, especially because of the safety data including medication contraindications in detail.
So you can see why I do love these companies and maybe they didn’t steal my dream after all. It wasn’t mine to begin with, and they have helped create my dream by spreading the love of these oils. And it doesn’t look like that’s going to slow down, so perhaps I could congratulate myself for having that dream so long ago, and others who also had that dream, who helped enable this spread. So yes, I am grateful for these companies afterall.
Here’s the one thing I know for sure: If we can find common ground, we have a place to stand together. I believe it’s that act that makes all the difference.
So I want to know, do you find yourself on one side of the aisle or the other when it comes to MLMs in the aromatherapy industry? If so, what do you see as the benefit of coming together, no matter your perspective?
Leave us a comment here to tell us where you stand on this sometimes controversial issue.
(Here’s some good news: If you saw our crowdfunding page, please note the recent update. Insurance is paying for his medical bills, but we’d like to use the rest of the money to help prevent these kinds of incidents from occurring.)
That’s not the point of this blog post, though.
I’ve had the privilege (yes, I’ll call it that because I am going through all of this with him still alive and well) of learning more about how trauma affects the body and how we can work through this healing process.
If you’re also working through trauma, here are a few things to try:
Talk about it. Ever since this happened, we’ve been sharing this story with our community. This is not just because we wanted to let them know what’s going on, but also because we’ve needed to keep telling it. Over the past 10 days, I’ve seen how helpful it is to do this—even though I go through all the emotions again. But each time, they begin to transform, reshape, and thus so does the story. Talking about trauma can have this weird effect where it both orients oneself in the “new reality,” while it also provides a way to let it go.
Use herbs. I’ve never relied so heavily on my oils and herbs. Once we realized that my husband would be released from the hospital after his injury, I knew the first thing I was going to do when we got home: make herbal tea. I make a daily tonic blend every day anyway, but I knew I needed it bad that day. It contains herbs that are not only full of vitamins and minerals, but ones that help the body deal with stress as well. You can find the recipe in my Body-Listening Cheat Sheet here. I can feel the cells in my body sing each time I sip this delicious mix, so that’s got to be good.
Use essential oils. Luckily, at this time, I was also working on next month’s Aromatic Meditation in the Inner Sanctum, which features Vetiver. Honestly, I couldn’t have chosen a better oil. I’ve always thought that Vetiver was particularly good for helping to clear out deep trauma. Its grounding energy helped bring me back to myself in the here and now, which is crucial when healing from PTSD. We need to affirm for ourselves that in this moment, we are safe. My husband, who is staying in Ohio to finish his training (he is even more devoted to the work of teaching adolescents to be good citizens), asked if I could send him some inhalers to use during the “hard moments” that are arising. I made him three inhalers and sent them off last weekend. Next week, I’ll share what oils I used for those. Stay tuned! : )
Keep moving. When times get tough, even just from the debris of daily life (and the self-judgements that can come with that), we may start to feel stuck. But remember, you’re only stuck if you stay there. I’m so grateful that I attended the Aromagnosis Teacher Training last May because I’ve been leaning hard on identifying, working with, and moving through the alchemical stages. For those of you who are new to this idea, Aromagnosis incorporates Carl Jung’s work in drawing on the seven stages of alchemy as a framework for transformation. They bring herbs and oils into this healing experience as well, and let me tell you, a lot can be done! As I’ve been moving through the aftermath of this trauma, these stages have been really helpful for me because I am better able to understand what I’m moving through and how to keep that movement going. It also gives me permission to honor the wisdom that each of these stages has for me while providing tools for how to not get stuck in them. I had already planned a Weekend Immersion where you can learn about these stages, understand how to use herbs and oils in the process, and find the healing insights within yourself to help you move forward—but now this workshop has taken on even greater significance.
I know that the global healing we all need can only start in one place: within you. By that I mean, it also starts within me. I’m committed to “doing the work” to be a greater healer, therapist, educator, and just all-around person.
Know that I support you in that journey as well.
Thank you to everyone who’s reached out with love, support, and help with the crowdfunding. We feel doubly blessed that Sam is still with us and that we can use this experience to help show others about the effects of their actions—and that we’re all in this together.
Even back in the day, I could see that she was pointing to something bigger.
It was 2005, and I was a few months into being a Licensed Massage Therapist. I had the chance to take my mom’s class as a professional. She was teaching her Basic Aromatherapy weekend workshop and I sat in as a student.
Her teaching style was lively, dynamic, and focused on what makes sense in the larger picture.
At the end of the weekend, each student made their own personal blend, or their “Individual Prescription.” Before blending oils and making these creations, we each talked about what was going on with us and what we wanted to shift mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Naturally, either because that’s the nature of these things or that’s the nature of my mom (or both), the conversations became personal, heart-opening, and deeply healing.
It wasn’t the oils. Of course, the oils helped, but I could see that it was so much more than that.
Aromatherapy allows us to look deep within ourselves and shows us the next steps in our growth.
This month in the Inner Sanctum, Mom brought this idea up in our Healing Guide. We were discussing the circulatory system, and we couldn’t help but include a lesson on healing the heart.
It’s hard for us at the Atlantic Institute to see our educational journeys as different and distinct from our personal journeys. They are increasingly one and the same—both informing the other in this beautiful dance of growth.
How has your educational journey affected you personally? Where do you see these two elements of your life intermingling?
Let us know in the comments. We love hearing about how aromatherapy is helping you.
So you’ve heard that essential oils might be able to help you with your pain. The good news is, they can!
As aromatherapists and massage therapists, Sylla and I have used aromatherapy for pain relief for years—both in the treatment room and at home.
Recently, we covered aromatherapy and pain in the Inner Sanctum. We were talking the next day when Sylla said to me, “Hey, you know what? I forgot something.”
She proceeded to tell me exactly what I needed to hear.
The thing is that while we can use aromatherapy for pain relief, and while it can help us tremendously, it is only one small part of the healing experience. What my mom shared with me is something that she has learned through her own ongoing healing journey. It really helped me shift my thoughts on my own injury—which is a relatively new part of my experience.
Below this video, you’ll find a list of essential oils that you can use for pain relief. If you don’t have any of these oils, consider the ones you do have with analgesic, anti-inflammatory, or rubefacient properties. Be sure to learn the safety of the oils you are using. We recommend always using them diluted (about 15 drops per ounce of carrier oil)—especially since carrier oils have healing benefits, too!
A few oils that may help reduce pain:
Anti-inflammatory oils to reduce swelling and inflammation: Bergamot, Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Ginger, Lavender, and Patchouli
Analgesic oils to reduce pain: Eucalyptus, Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Sweet Marjoram
Rubefacient oils to increase circulation: Black Pepper, Eucalyptus, Ginger, and Peppermint
Has an essential oil ever opened up something inside of you?
Or uncovered a deeper truth?
I’ve known for a long time that essential oils can do this, but I’m still in the beginning stages of using them most effectively for deep inner work.
Part of this lies in the mystery of how olfactory nerves communicate with the emotional and survival centers of the brain—affecting our body chemistry and influencing our conscious thoughts—all in a matter of seconds! How all this works is a subject for another blog (or honestly, a lifetime study), but here I have a special message to share with you.
Each month in the Inner Sanctum, we feature a new essential oil. Sylla speaks at length about the science, research, therapeutics, chemistry, and botany of the oil. Then I take what she finds, do my own “inner research,” and write a meditation based on that oil to share as well.
Usually, I turn to several references to find out the emotional/energetic properties of the oils. The first stop is The Blossoming Heart by Robbi Zeck. The second stop is Aromatherapy for the Spirit by Gabriel Mojay. I try to get a sense of what others have found on the oils and start there.
But Blue Tansy was different.
It hasn’t been used as an aromatic as long as other oils like Lavender, Rosemary, Lemon, or Eucalyptus have, so there wasn’t much out there that I could find. I had to go within myself.
One day, I sat down with Blue Tansy just to see what emerged.
As it goes in meditation, my thoughts started wandering a few minutes in. I found myself suddenly sure that I needed to let go of a commitment in my life. I didn’t really see it coming, but I felt a reassurance that, “It’s okay to say no to something you’ve already said yes to.”
Wow, Blue Tansy, that’s one powerful message!
I wrote the Inner Sanctum Meditation about this and sent it to Sylla. It really spoke to her, too, as she’d recently been working to change a habit of overcommitting herself.
We also used this message to create a personal perfume for one of our monthly Inner Sanctum recipes. We call this blend, “Say Yes to You.”
Sylla’s scented salt jar she made for her desk.
Since I started working with Blue Tansy in this way, I’ve been able to get a clearer picture of what I need to say goodbye to.
I’ve seen Mom making this shift too. (Check out her “Just Say No” scented salt jar. She keeps it close by so while she’s working she can ward off distractions and stay focuses on what she wants to do).
But one thing I am saying a full-hearted YES to is finding new and better ways to serve you in your search for aromatherapy education.
I love how aromatics and the messages they bring can come into our lives and change them—instantly.
Of course it takes work on our part, but they are such wonderful tools with so much wisdom to share.
Now we’d like to know:
What is it time for you to say no to (even if you’ve already said yes)?
What oil or oils would you use to help you make that transition?