This course provides a solid introduction to the safe use of aromatherapy essential oils


Who should do this course?

  • Anyone interested in producing or using scented oils
  • Massage Therapists
  • Allied health or Complimentary medicine support staff/assistants
  • Sales & marketing staff who market scented oil products (oils, soaps, perfumes etc)
  • Herb growers and oil manufacturers

By itself it does not make you a fully professional aromatherapist (as that would involve a much longer course); but it does provide a sound starting point upon which you can build further and more in depth knowledge

Aromatherapy Online Course

Aromatherapy involves using scented oils from plants to impact or influence the health or wellbeing of people. Scents can have a subtle but very real impact upon a person's health and/or state of mind. Some scents will stimulate and others will calm. Some can help healing (eg. menthol can help clear blocked nasal passages).

Some scents can be dangerous as well. This is why it can be important to study and understand scented oils before using them. While some soaps or perfumes may be a wonderful thing for some people, the same scents can cause allergic reactions in others. 

For anyone who produces, sells or uses scented products (soaps, candles, massage oils), it can be very important to have at least a strong foundation knowledge of this subject, in order to not only take advantage of different scents, but also to be aware of potential problems.


Course Contents and Structure

There are eight lessons in this course as follows:

1. Plant Identification
2. Introduction to Aromatherapy
3. Essential oils
4. Safe use of essential oils
5. Carriers
6. Growing and harvesting of oil
7. Extraction methods
8. Hazardous Herbs & Oils

Duration: 100 hours


Course Scope

  • Write a report on what you understand about how plants are named
  • Give the scientific names of ten different plants from which essential oils are derived.
  • Summarize your knowledge of aromatherapy and essential oils.
  • Explain how aromatic herbs are promoted to the public in order to sell them.
  • Write an essay on the history of aromatherapy and essential oil use.
  • Recommend different blends that can be used for insomnia and other complaints
  • Recommend different blends that can be used for treating a head cold.
  • Discuss a range of oils that would be suitable for a travel kit
  • Discuss the use of aromatherapy for children.
  • List a range of oils that would be considered safe to use for children.
  • Write a short essay on ways in which essential oils can be used.
  • Explain the use of essential oils on animals.
  • List a range of types of vegetable oils appropriate for use in massage and indicate what types of skin the oils are good for.
  • Explain how oils enter the body and how a carrier will assist with this entry.
  • Create bath oil blends and develop instructions on how to use them in the bath and what conditions they are good for.
  • Understand why some herbs tend to be collected in the morning, some before flowering, some during flowering, and others at various times of the year. What impact does this have on the essential oil?
  • From catalogues collected, explain why some oils cost more others.
  • Discuss different methods of oil extraction and list their benefits and disadvantages.
  • Comprehend what is the difference between an essential oil and an aromatic oil
  • Compile a detailed costing for processing herb materials to produce essential oils.
  • List a range of essential oils that are not safe for use in aromatherapy.
  • Discuss how essential oils can be used safely and ways in which they should not be used.
  • Understand which essential oils may not be safe for use during pregnancy.


Some Herbs and Fragrances are Dangerous

Herbs and garden plants that are grown to enhance the landscape or produce scented oils, are not always totally harmless; in fact around one third of all garden plants do contain toxins. Many common scented plants, treasured by some, can actually harm other people (e.g. Some people love Jasmine and Honeysuckle scent; but others will suffer a bad sinus reaction when exposed to this aroma. Aromatherapists sometimes use coconut oil, which many people love, but some can have a sensitivity to)

Many herbs then, though helpful to some, can also be highly dangerous to others, or if used in the wrong way.
 Some herbs should only be taken externally, never internally. Unfortunately, many books do not go into the details of preparation and usage.
Following are notes of potentially hazardous plant products categorised according to the type of activity they exhibit.


  • Pyrrolizidine alkaloids: Boraginaceae, Asteaceae (Compositae) and Fabaceae (Leguminosae) families.  Popular herbs: coltsfoot, comfrey, some Senecio sp. and borage (in low concentrations).
  • Carcinogenic phenylpropanoid: derivatives in sassafras (safrole) and calamus (B asarone).
  • Aristolochia acids (nitrophenanthrene carboxylic acid derivatives): in Aristolochia species and wild ginger
  • Catechin tannins: found in many herbs like betel nut and common tea.

Tumour promoters (a kind of cocarcinogen) that reacts with other factors to induce carcinoma, occur in croton seeds and mezereon bark. Diterpene ester derivatives with this activity occur in many plants of the Euphorbiaceae and Thymelaeaceae families.


Somewhat related to carcinogens. Furocoumarins of the psoralen type are most active and abundant in Apiaceae (Umbelliferae) and Rutaceae. E.g. angelica and rue. Another inducer is hypericin in St. John's wort.


Pollen grains are the usual cause. E.g. chamomile (Roman and German), yarrow, marigold, goldenrod, etc. Arnica can produce contact dermatitis due to its sesquiterpene lactone content.

Hormone like Effects

Licorice orally induces pseudo aldosteronism, a condition characterised by sodium and water retention, potassium depletion, hypertension, and even heart failure. Ginseng (Oriental and American, and to a lesser degree, siberian) induce "jitteriness" when consumed in large amounts due to containing triterpenoid saponins. These mimic cortico steroid poisoning which suggest operation through adrenal cortex or pituitary gland. Other reported effects include postmenopausal bleeding in older women.


Many components inducing birth defects are alkaloids. These include heliotrine (a pyrrolizidine derivative) from heliotrope; nicotine in tobacco; coniine in poison hemlock; three steroidal alkaloids in western hellebore; and possibly lobeline in lobelia.

Cellular Respiratory Inhibitors

Primarily cyanogenic (cyanide producing) glycosides within plants of Rosaceae, subfamily Prunoidae. E.g. Apricot pits used in herbal medicines, bitter almonds and wild cherry bark.


Large consumption of such herbs as teas can be surprising, though proper dosage is fine. Long term use can result in habituation and a laxative habit e.g. aloe, buckthorn berries, rhubarb, senna and Cascara sagrada. Drastic purgatives best avoided include colocynth, ipomoea, jalap and podophyllum.

Abortifacients and Irritants

Irritant action produced by these volatile oil containing plants is highly dose dependent. Herbal products of high dosage containing parsley fruit, savin, pennyroyal (European and American),tansy, rue, terpentine, and juniper, or their oils, should be avoided be expectant mothers.

Volatile oils can also be toxic in other ways depending on constituents. Pennyroyal contains pulegone which is hapatotoxic and pulmonary toxic, as is menthofuran in low quality oil. Thujone in wormwood is highly neurotoxic.


Large amounts of alfalfa seeds and sprouts contain non protein amino acid L  canavanine which induces an auto immune disorder in test animals that resembles systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). European and American mistletoes contain similar toxic proteins in all parts (though concentrated in the berries). There are substances in poke weed capable of inducing severe toxic reactions including death, especially the roots.

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