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Posted by: Marian Child, 14 Sep 2010 7:31PM
Please do not use the forums to advertise courses.

Using aromatic products as a non Aromatherapy masseur.

I am a masseur and not an aromatherapist, neither do I want to become one. I believe it is a skill that I don't personally want to do. This does not mean I dont rate the therapy (just wanted to get that point clear). I understand that I should massage my clients with carrier oils. What I didn't realise was that I wasn't insured to use any pre-blended aromatherapy oils from the shops as I am not trained in aromatherapy. On reflection, this is quite understandable. But I had no idea. Whilst learning on some of the courses we used oils which were blended for muscle work. For reflexology we were all to use peppermint foot lotion (blended with essential Oils). I understand that this too is a medium for which I am not insuranced to administer. Tutors are aware of our qualifications, but they didn't hesitate to have us use it. This makes me wonder how many people know about this situation. Clearly some instructors do not. From my insurance company, I understand it is because I am not trained in the contra-indications that may dictate what oil I use, which again, I quite understand, but didn't realise this meant I couldn't use "over the counter" pre blended oils and be covered by my insurance.


Jane Hopwood
14 Sep 2010 9:01PM

hi I am a masseur qualified with ITEC and I asked them if I can burn essential oils during treatment for the therapuetic aroma. They said that was fine. I like geranium, clary sage and lavender. Can anyone advise if that really is ok. Lots of my clients love the aroma and says is relaxes them. I feel that too but have stopped burning oils as unsure. ?? Jane
Angelina Kelly
15 Sep 2010 9:07AM

I'm a Reflexologist and when I was in training we were not allowed to use any oils at all. I have some knowledge of oils (self taught and in discussion with colleagues). From experience (15 years in practice) I have been given to understand that anyone on medication for any condition whatsoever should not use oils of any kind in anything because of the risk of interaction. For this reason I no longer use oils other than in the burner to create a relaxing atmosphere. The only thing I use in treatment is a base cream with nothing in it. My nurse colleagues recommended E45 or Emuleve as being the safest and the lest likely to interact.
Kathryn Kemp
15 Sep 2010 1:17PM

Hi, I'm an ITEC sports and holistic masseur. I was advised that I can use pre-blended oils if the client provides them but I cannot use my own as I am not a qualified aromatherapist. This would negate my insurance. Hope this helps. Kathy
Gillian Kenyon
15 Sep 2010 1:49PM

Does anyone else agree that this is a farse - the client can go and buy any number of essential oils - no training, no knowledge. They can buy any number of pre-blends too. But a trained therapist who knows that essential oils can be dangerous to the client unless provided by a trained Aromatherapist can be exhonerated if they use a product supplied by the client ?.
Kathryn Kemp
15 Sep 2010 1:53PM

I do.! The client buys them at their own risk (because they like the smell!) but who will they blame if they react to them.?!
Angelina Kelly
15 Sep 2010 2:20PM

I agree too. It seems the odds are all stacked up against the therapist no matter what therapy they do. One wonders why we are being forced to have this knowledge in the first place if we are not allowed to use it. On the plus side though it does mean that we can't be blamed if something goes wrong and we can turn the public back on themselves when it comes to a possible claim. I guess it's all doctor driven because they want to be the only ones "treating" people. Treating diseases is what they do, however, treating people is what we do. It seems to be becoming harder for us to that and its the public who are ultimately loosing out.
Barbara Lewis
17 Sep 2010 9:52AM

I agree this situation is farcical but legally i expect it depends on you the therapist ensuring that what you use is safe for that client Massage : Do you ask if the client has any known intolerances allergies or skin problems ?- they could not only react to the essential oil in a product but the almond oil ! or other ingredients , parabens for instance or lanolin or perfumes in any creams or lotions you use . It seems to me that using lotions oils with added essential oils is ok as long as you have checked sufficiently with the client, carry out a patch test and do not promote that the oils will actually have a specific therapeutic effect as that would be carrying out an aromatherapy massage ! OIL Burning :Do you ask if the client has hay fever other breathing problems ? essential oils to refresh ther room are probably safer and less irritant than other plug in room refreshers i have seen used in some establishments but your choice should be made with understandign of the effects of the powerful oils one of the problems is using the same oil such as lavender for everyone this was done in an experimetn i believe in a hospital setting and some patients felt really unwell as it lowered their blood pressure which was already low ! your supplier should be able to tell you suitability Training - it seems to me you do not nescessarily have to train as an aromatherapist to use essentail oils for burning your supplier probabley would run a course on safe use which should cover you . one of the problems of some commercial products is they may contain essential oils but they also contain perfume and other ingredients to which the client may react - see above for checking suitablity A good Maxim is + if in doubt miss it out +
Gillian Kenyon
17 Sep 2010 3:50PM

I do wonder whether we are all realising what is being said here. 'Aroma'-therapy - the effect is beleived to come not just in the topical use (and some absorption via the skin) but in the stimulation effect through entry via the Olfactory System to trigger the Limbic system. ie what we SMELL !. It doesn't matter how we get the essential oils into our Olfactory system - either evapouration effect with the heat of our skin & body, or with evaporation effect from an oil burner. The essential oil molecules still get into the air and hence in theory can be breathed in and affect the Olfactory system. In theory, the molecules in what we breath in (with each lung full of air) could potentially also pass across the lung membrane and have a chemical effect by diffusion into the bloodstream - after all, isn't that how Oxygen gets into our body and Carbodn Dioxide out ?. Doee it really matter whether an Aromatherapist uses massage to spread the oils and put essential oils into the air or simply puts them in a a burner and lets the person relax in a room breathing in the vapours (NB - look up all the essential oil ingredients included in Vick or Olbas oil)?. On the other hand, can the human body differentiate between oils that got into the air from evapouration after spreading on the body via massage rather than being evapourated from a burner ?. I think not. If therapists can't be consistent with their understanding of what happens, how do we expect anyone else to be? No wonder there are such inconsistencies and nonsenses in legilstaion and insurance requirements. It is just the same type of nonsense as the anomoly that a Hairdresser can massage the scalp during hair washing of a woman in her first trimester of pregnancy - and anyone else too - without doing a consultation. But a therapist can NOT give scalp massage/indian head massage/cranial massage in such circumstances remain insured if she does. The Hairdresser is completely untrained in massage but the therapist isn't. Why are we different ?. Is it suprising that the public are confused and think we are mad when we say we can't treat them if they don't give us a consultation or get GP permission first. The GP's must think we are crazy too!
Marian Child
17 Sep 2010 4:02PM

I think the reason why I started this post in the first place was because the insurance company I use through my membership with the CThA confirmed that I would not be insured if I used any aromatic oil, whether it is pre-blended or even provided by the client. In other words I am only insured to use carrier oils. Other insurance companies may vary, but I wanted to bring this to the attention of other people.
Angelina Kelly
20 Sep 2010 9:05AM

As a Reflexologist when I take on a new client I do a full medical investigation through a set questionnaire provided by the Irish Reflexologists Institute included in that is questions about allergies or intolerances. I even ask if they have any problems with talc and E45 cream. The reason for this is that my nurse colleagues advised me to ask about even the most seemingly innocent ingredient. The best way around this is to ask if your client is taking medication for anything and if so leave out oils of any kind this way you can't do any harm but can still do a lot of good.
Gillian Kenyon
20 Sep 2010 10:12AM

Angelina I agree with you and take the same approach. However, when they book their first appointment, I ask 2 questions: 1. Are they on ANY form of prescribed or unprescribed medication (ie from a herbalist/Homeopath/TCM) 2. Are they or have they been under the last 6 weeks under any form of medical care. If the answer to either question is yes - then get them to get appropriate permissions/check there are no reasons they should not have their intended treatment. But do so BEFORE their appointment so that when they arrive they can complete the consultation and honestly provide the information and confirm permissions when they sign their declaration. By the way, I was advised some 3/4 years ago I was tutoring the nurses, mid-wives and health visitors at our PCT on Baby Massage and they told me that in Paeditrics, they had stopped using an unoperfumed, lanolin free E45 cream with childhood skin complaints because it was not good for the children with Eczema !. The nurses taking the course could not tell me why but their are various old reports on it if you search the web.
Angelina Kelly
21 Sep 2010 11:04AM

I also ask these questions on a first visit. In fact on a first visit (regardless of medical history) I will only do foot massage and insist that, if they are undergoing any kind of treatment or on any kind of meds, before they come back to me for further treatments, that they seek the permission of their doctor. I have lost so many potential clients because of this but I prefer to err on the side of caution. I rarely do true reflexology before the third session on any client. Also, if I detect anything at all during a treatment, I insist that they seek medical advice before coming back to me. I also insist on them giving me the names of all their meds right from the start or as soon as possible before treating them properly. If they don't have this info to hand I continue with foot massage until they do. I used to ask for all this before their first appointment but I found that some people don't like giving this info to a "stranger" over the phone, they were more forthcoming once they were in the safety of the treatment room. I find it is always best to work with my clients' comfort and stay within their zone rather than insisting they operate within mine. When I give advice I understand they they don't have to take it and if they don't it's their loss not mine.
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