Air Pollutants – Bad News For Aromatherapy Practitioners

There’s worrying news for Aromatherapy practitioners after a recent survey in Taiwan showed that Volatile Organic Particles (VOCs) may be released when using Aromatherapy oils in spas. These particles can form “Secondary Organic Aerosols” by their interaction with ozone, which occurs naturally in air. This type of air-bourne chemical reaction has caused eye and nose irritation for spa customers on numerous occasions.


The study in Taiwan tested lavender, peppermint, lemon and eucalyptus, as well as Chinese herbs; mulberry, perille folium, angelica, bupleuri and ginseng. Each of these oils contains terpens which is a known SOA precursor. Terpens, researchers suggest, is the element in the oils which could cause irritation when mixed with air in a confined space. It seems that those attending aromatherapy treatments for relaxation purposes might actually be exposing themselves to an irritant. The news comes as a surprise to complementary health practitioners, who have clearly overlooked any side effects of aromatherapy oils.


Aromatherapy is an ancient practice widely accepted for its wellness benefits. Indeed, it has spread so widely that it is now a mainstream market – after all, an aromatherapy oil burner creates a beautiful aromatic ambience in thousands of homes. The scents, which start as natural oils extracted from the bark, stem and leaves of plants, are chosen for their wellbeing effects. They are also widely used as a form of alternative medicine, thought to elevate the mood, stimulate brain functioning and relieve pain. Should we start to question our trusted use of these essential oils?


The Taiwanese researchers involved in the study give strong advice to spa owners. The potential reaction to aromatherapy oils can be avoided by good ventilation. This means a thoughtful spa layout, and special ventilation systems for aromatherapy rooms. For business owners, this is a clear responsibility that is now making its way into industry guidelines. For home users of aromatherapy oils, there is no need to be concerned unless you actually are experiencing irritation from an oil burner. Any uncomfortable reaction can be solved by moving your burner to a better-ventilated area.

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