Article | Category: Glossary Terms

An ancient healing art dating back to 4500 B. C., Aromatherapy usually refers to treatments such as massage, facials, body wraps or hydro baths with the application of essential oils from plants, leaves, bark, roots, seeds, resins and flowers.

These oils are used to treat emotional disorders, organ dysfunction, and skin problems through a variety of internal and external application techniques. Plants and flowers from which these oils are extracted include rosemary, lavender, roses, chamomile, eucalyptus and pine.


Other Names:
Essential oil therapy

Description of Offering:
The art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit.  It seeks to unify physiological, psychological and spiritual processes to enhance an individual’s innate healing process.

This offering has its roots in ancient practices.

Origin of Offering
Early Civilizations (6000+ years ago)

Creator of Offering (Nationality)
Rene-Maurice Gattefosse (French)
His book “Gattefosse’s Aromatherapy” contains early clinical findings for utilizing essential oils for a range of physiological ailments. Distinguishing the medicinal application of essential oils from their perfumery applications.

Brief History of the Offering
For the basis of obtaining the essential oils, the Egyptians were the first to developed a distillation machine to extract oils from certain plants to embalm the dead. For the actual practice of using infused aromatic oils as a mood enhancer has roots in China. The actual term "aromatherapy" first originated in 1937 when French chemist, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, discovered the virtues of the essential oil of lavender when he badly burned his hand during an experiment and plunged his hand into the nearest tub of liquid which just happened to be lavender essential oil. He was amazed at how quickly his burn healed and with very little scarring. This started a fascination with essential oils and inspired him to experiment with them during the First World War on soldiers in the military hospitals.

Fun Fact
Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine) used aromatic fumigations to rid Athens of the plague. He also used aromatherapy baths and massages in his treatments.


Primary Benefit Received
Stress reduction

Other Benefits
Stimulate mind, sense of escape/solitude, pain reduction,

Research Publication
The effectiveness of nurse-delivered aromatherapy in an acute care setting.
Johnson JR, Rivard RL, Griffin KH, Kolste AK, Joswiak D, Kinney ME, Dusek JA
Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2016

Comment about Research Selection
It examined the use and effectiveness of essential oil therapeutic interventions on pain, nausea, and anxiety in hospital settings across a large health system.

Primary Findings of Research
Essential oils generally resulted in significant clinical improvements based on their intended use, although each oil also showed ancillary benefits for other symptoms. Future research should explore use of additional essential oils, modes of administration, and different patient populations.


Typical Length of Offering
45 - 60 minutes

The offering is most often provided one guest at a time.

Offering is primarily suited for:
Day Spa (wellness focus), Resort/Hotel/Cruise Ship Spa, Destination Spa, Medical Clinic/Spa, Hospital/Rehabilitation Center, Club Spa (Day or Residential),

How many treatment providers are needed to produce the offering?

Common License/Certification or Training necessary to provide the offering:
Esthetician (skin care specialist), Massage Therapist (general training), Massage Therapist (with supplemental training), Acupuncturist/Oriental Medicine Doctor, Physical Therapist, Medical Spa Technician, Aromatherapy Certification

Comments about Offering Protocol

1. Methods of Application:  Massage/Body Oil 

Recommended Dilutions for Massage Oils 
For infants and young children: 
.5-1% dilution = 3-6 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier 

For adults: 
2.5% dilution = 15 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier 
3% dilution = 20 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier 
5% dilution = 30 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier 
10% dilution = 60 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier 

In general, aromatherapy oil based blends are useful for: stress/anxiety, headaches/migraines, insomnia, chronic or acute pain relief, arthritis & rheumatism (sub-acute phase), chronic muscular/joint aches and pain, pregnancy and childbirth massage, reducing inflammation, enhancing immunity, relieving muscle spasms, relax and soothe the nervous system, aid in the treatment of sprains, strains, and repetitive movement injuries.

2. Facial Creams, Lotions and Oils 

You can purchase unscented facial creams or body lotions and add essential oils or create a facial oil by using a variety of vegetable/herbal oils and then adding essential oils into the mix. Or learn how to make your own creams and lotions! 

Facial oil/cream dilution rates 
For adults: 
Sensitive skin: .5 to 1 percent dilution = 3 to 6 drops per ounce 
Normal, healthy skin: 1 to 2.5 percent dilution = 6 to 15 drops per ounce

3. Baths 

Add 2 - 12 drops (depending on essential oil) into a teaspoon of honey, whole milk, vegetable oil or other dispersing agent then add to bath once you are in the bath.    

4.  Steam inhalation 

Place 3-7 drops of essential oil into boiling water. Some essential oils to consider include: Eucalyptus sp. (either E. globulus or E. radiata), Thyme ct. linalol (Thymus vulgaris), Lemon (Citrus limon), and Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). Cover head with towel and breathe through the nose. Keep eyes closed!   

5.  Aromatic Spritzers 

An aromatic spritzer is a combination of essential oils and water. Often a dispersant such as solubol is used to diffuse the essential oils within the water. Aromatic spritzers can be used as room fresheners, to cleanse the air, to uplift and energize, to scent space, or used during a massage or esthetic practice: e.g. sprayed on face cradles to keep respiratory passages clear. 

To make: Add 10-15 drops of essential oil (1-3 different essential oils) per ounce of water. Shake before using or add dispersing agent (e.g. solubol)    

6.  Diffusion  

7.  Inhalation    

A)  Direct palm inhalation 
Direct palm inhalation refers to the technique of sniffing or inhaling an essential oil/s or synergy directly from the palms of your hands. Direct palm inhalations are most commonly utilized for the relief of emotional distress, to uplift and transform ones consciousness, or simply to relax and breathe. It can be used as supportive therapy for the relief of respiratory congestion or other respiratory ailments.      

B)  Direct inhalation 
Direct inhalation refers to the technique of sniffing or inhaling an essential oil directly from a bottle, a handkerchief or a cotton-ball. Direct inhalations are most commonly employed for the relief of emotional distress and as supportive therapy for the relief of respiratory congestion or other respiratory ailments. Direct inhalations are also used for their effect on the nervous system.        
i)  Direct from bottle: Create a synergy (undiluted essential oils) utilizing 3-5 essential oils and place in a small bottle. Have client waft bottle under nose while taking deep inhalations. This can be done 3-4x a day or as needed.       
ii)  Smelling salts: Create a synergy with a total of 20-30 drops utilizing 3-5 essential oils and place in a 10ml (1/3 ounce) bottle. Once the synergy is in the bottle, fill the remainder of the bottle with either fine or coarse sea salts. Have client waft bottle under nose while taking deep inhalations. This can be done 3-4x a day or as needed.       
iii)  Handkerchief/Cotton-ball: Place 2-4 drops of essential oil or synergy on the tissue or cloth. Hold cloth in the palms of your hand and take 2-3 deep inhalations through the nose. If using a cotton ball, gently waft the cotton ball under the clients’ nose. This technique can be used 2-3x a day or as needed.    
C)  Inhaler tubes
Inhaler tubes are designed using 100% essential oil/s saturated on a cotton pad.
**NOTE: Please be sure to use organic cotton pads. You can purchase these at a local health food store and cut the desired size to fit tube. Cotton is considered a ‘dirty’ crop, meaning it is heavily sprayed with pesticides. It is recommended to replace the cotton pad that comes in the tube with a certified organic cotton pad.  
To make: Choose 2-3 essential oils to work with based upon a specific purpose. Decide how many drops of each essential oil so it adds up to 15 to 25 drops.  Place drops of each essential oil in a small glass bowl/cup then place pad from inhaler into the bowl to absorb the essential oils. Use tweezers to move pad around a bit and then remove pad with tweezers and place in inhaler tube. Close inhaler tub and it is ready for use.

Type of space/facility most often used for the offering:
Private Dry Treatment Room

Type of space/facility that can be use for the offering:
Private Wet Treatment Room (Vichy, Baths, Watsu Pool, etc.), Public Hydrotherapy (Wet) Area (Jacuzzi, Hot or Cold Plunge Pools, Steam, etc.), Specialty Space (labyrinth, infusion room, color therapy, etc.)

How many towels are used?

How many sheets are used?

Does the offering require the use of products (i.e. lotions, lacquers, scrubs, cleansers, etc.)?

How many different products are used?

Products used:
Various essential oils

Does the require the use of disposable supplies (i.e. cotton squares, balls and swabs, lancets, etc.)?

Equipment and supplies needed to provide the offering:
Raised massage-style table, reclined table/chair, foot bath, mixing/product bowl(s).

Beyond labor, linens, disposable supplies and products, please list any other direct costs associated with the offering?

Including only the following items (products, disposable items, linen laundry, and other direct costs---not labor), what is the typical cost of the offering?
$2-10 USD

Typical single session price of the offering.
$10-50 USD

Comments about offering price.
Mostly used as an add-on service to traditional treatments.


Publication used to prepare this submission.
National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy  (2016)

Aromatherapy History (2010) 

Organic Facts
Benefits of Aromatherapy (2016) 

Author Information
Ann Brown
Founder, Saltability

Author Biography
Ann Brown is an industry veteran whose expertise extends from licensed cosmetologist, esthetician, nail technician and massage therapist to accomplished spa director and business manager. In 2014, she founded Saltability to answer the need for a better treatment in the spa industry and, in doing so, conceived a line of Himalayan salt products that are beneficial to both clients and therapists.

Editor Information:
Mary Wisnom
Professor, School of Resort & Hospitality Management, Florida Gulf Coast University, USA