That’s it– I’ve had it!!
“I’m done!” Those were my words after months and months of researching the safety of essential oils, only to be discouraged when every new article I’d find seemed to contradict the one I’d just read. Who was I to believe?
Thankfully, I didn’t give up, though, because it was soon after that that I became aware of the reason for all the conflicting information on this subject. What I discovered was that there are two main competing schools of thought when it comes to aromatherapy: British vs French. I learned that when researching using our oils, the confusion lies in not knowing the point of view of the source we’re gathering information from.
In a moment, I’m going to share with you an article by Dr. David Stewart that explains the differing schools of thought. I personally practice the French approach to aromatherapy. If you choose to do the same, I suggest the books: “Gentle Babies” by Debra Rayburn and “The Reference Guide for Essential Oils” by Connie & Alan Higley.
The French approach comes with “a knowing” that if you are following it, you are using only TRULY pure therapeutic-grade oils. The safety precautions that are made concerning essential oils, are blanket statements that must be made due to people not understanding the difference in the quality of essential oils. An example is a person hearing a testimony about the amazing benefits someone had ingesting a truly pure oil, going to the local health food store to purchase the said oil, and having reactions to the synthetics in it, but not understanding that that’s what happened. With that said, since very few truly pure therapeutic-grade essential oils exist, while increasing numbers are labeled as such, it is wise to be cautious, and blanket statements are important for that reason. It’s equally important, however, when you find a company like Young Living that offers oil that does not fall into the category of oils those statements are intended to provide you protection from, that you know the difference so that you can fully reap the benefits the oils have to offer.
Knowing the difference in the schools of thought will help you navigate the cautions and resources you encounter during your journey. This takes the confusion and fear out of the picture, and allows you to focus on meeting your health needs.
So now, I’ll leave it to Dr. Stewart to provide you with the knowledge you need to make your own educated decision.
British vs The French: Two Schools at Odds
by David Stewart, Ph.D., R.A.
If you are not deeply involved with American aromatherapy or
have been involved only a short time, you may not be aware
that there are two competing schools. There is the British School
and the French School.
The British School
The British School of Aromatherapy emphasizes massage
with essential oils diluted in carrier oils in 2-5% concentrations
and discourages the use of essential oils neat (undiluted) on
the skin or taken orally. The British school was developed by
aromatherapists from the fragrance industry whose interest
was in relaxation, massage, and emotional aspects. The
British are more interested in “aroma” than they are in
“therapy.” The British rely on scientific research on animals
using oils that are often perfume or food grade and usually
applying only certain compounds isolated from essential oils
rather than the whole oil. This has led to a host of invalid
applications of scientific data to human use of oils. The British
School states many cautions and contraindications for oils
taken neat or orally and forbids the use of many essential oils
entirely. These warnings are probably valid when non-
therapeutic grade oils are applied. The British school
emphasizes that essential oils have their hazards and is
best practiced by trained, certified professionals. Most
formally trained aromatherapists in the U.S. are of the British
school, relying on British sources or sources influenced by
that philosophy. The National Association of Holistic
Aromatherapists (NAHA) and the Aromatherapy Registration
Council (ARC) are two American organizations that lean
toward the British school and promote only educational
programs that are of British philosophy.
The French School
The French School of Aromatherapy emphasizes oral and neat
applications of essential oils but administer oils also by
inhalation, massage in fatty oil bases, as well as rectal and
vaginal suppositories. The French are more interested in
“therapy” than they are in “aroma.” The French School was
developed by medical doctors whose interest was in healing
disease and maintaining health, including relaxation, massage,
and the emotional aspects. The French rely on scientific
research on people using whole oils of therapeutic grade
quality and to a great extent, the empirical and anecdotal
experience of their practices. The French school emphasizes
that aromatherapy is safe and can be practiced, with common
sense, by anyone whether trained in the healing arts or not.
This has led to to hundreds of thousands of ordinary untrained
people using oils on themselves, friends, and relatives
throughout the United States and Canada. It has also led to
a popular protocol of applying essential oils called “raindrop
technique,” where a variety of oils are applied undiluted to the
back and feet, with techniques of massage, in order to address
the therapeutic needs of one’s whole body, inside and out. This
highly successful method can be learned by anyone and has
been performed on hundreds of thousands of people with
benefit and without any of the harms that the British seem
to fear. The largest promoter of the French School in America
is a network marketing company, Young Living Essential Oils, Inc.,
who produces and/or distributes some 100 species of essential
oils. They have more than 100,000 active distributors and
continuously offer training programs throughout the U.S. and
Canada, as well as Australia and Japan.
There is intense political rivalry between these two schools in
America with particularly hostile attacks coming from the
practicing aromatherapists of the British school who aim
their missiles at the French school practicing aromatherapists.
Meanwhile the French school aromatherapists just want to be
left alone to enjoy the benefits of their ways of applying oils […]
The Hidden Political Agenda
There is a hidden political agenda. Those of the British school
favor credentials and certifications and licensing. To them,
aromatherapy, which is in their view a potentially hazardous
practice, should be the domain of selected professionals only.
Those of the French school favor education and training, but
no need for government certifications or licensing. To them
aromatherapy, which is harmless when governed by simple
common sense, should be the domain of everyone,
professionals and the public alike.
This strong difference of opinion between the two schools
would not be a problem if both were of a laissez faire attitude
of live and let live, each allowing the other to function freely
as they see fit. Unfortunately, many of those of the British
school are politically active in attempting to force their way
as the only way and approaching legislators and such to that
If you are new to aromatherapy, you may not have encountered
the opposition that exists to the the healing and beneficial ways
of anointing with essential oils taught by CARE, Young Living,
The Pacific School of Aromatherapy (Kurt Schnaubelt), and
others of the French school. This article is provided to give
you insight, as well as answers for rebuttal, should a hostile
member of the anti-French group come into your life and
attempt to attack the credibility, safety, and efficacy of what
you are doing. They have just been misinformed somewhere in
their educational background and don’t know it. Perhaps you
can help them to a better understanding and lead them to
greater opportunities for healing than are possible with the
restrictions of the British point of view.
THE RAINDROP MESSENGER
Official Newsletter of C.A.R.E.
The Center for Aromatherapy Research and Education
Rt. 4, Box 646, Marble Hill, Missouri USA 63764
Happy researching, learning, and using Young Living’s therapeutic-grade oils however you deem fit!
Trisha at OilyJoy
(p.s. For those interested, there’s a great further explanation on how the differing schools of thought originated here.)
[Please remember that Information shared here is not intended as medical advice, and cannot substitute for professional medical advice and information. We are simply sharing experiences. For more obligatory disclaimer information, please visit our disclaimer page.]