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Aromatherapy is a branch of both holistic medicine and somatology. The aim of aromatherapy is to detoxify the body and to calm and relax the client. It entails massaging the body with essential aromatic oils, each of which has different properties (some stimulate, others soothe). Many people are moving towards natural medicine, such as aromatherapy, because they spend so much money on prescribed medicines that do not always work.

Aromatic oil is extracted from leaves, fibres, roots, seeds or fruits. For use, highly concentrated oils are diluted with water or an unscented carrier oil (pure vegetable oils are used as carrier oils). Essences contain alcohol, aldehydes and terpenes.

Solutions are usually massaged into the skin, inhaled from steam or added to a bath. Learning and developing new forms of oil treatment through various combinations of oil extracts is also part of the job.

Aromatherapists discuss their clients’ specific problems with them and then select the correct oil or oils for treatment. A basic practical knowledge of the oils and massage techniques is essential for effective treatment. Some oils can have negative effects if used in the wrong way.

Aromatherapists usually use plant extracts and essential oils to massage patients. The nature of the oils is vital and aromatherapists need to be well schooled in which aromatic oils are necessary for a particular treatment.

Wounds, superficial scars, skin cancer, skin toning and skin-cell stimulation are examples of conditions aromatherapists are trained to treat. They can also help cure headaches, as well as skin diseases and pre-menstrual tension. Aromatherapists also believe that by changing their attitudes, patients will heal more quickly.

Some aromatherapists do laboratory research on chemical components or plants and oils. Treatment of patients can be done in a private practice at home or in a beauty salon.

Satisfying Aspects
- helping others
- the satisfaction of finding healing, soothing, stimulating or rejuvenating oil or plant extracts to treat certain disorders effectively

Demanding aspects
- patients are sometimes difficult or uncooperative
- treatment has to be specific and correct
- sometimes long working hours

An aromatherapist should:
- have good health;
- have a pleasant personality and appearance;
- have empathy and tact;
- listen and communicate well;
- be enthusiastic;
- be professional;
- be dedicated to the profession;
- be good with your hands;
- take responsibility for decisions.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
No specific requirement for private college courses

Compulsory Subjects: Life Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Physical Sciences, Economics

Diploma: Somatology - universities of technology

- health and beauty salons
- health spars and hydros
- cosmetic companies
- pharmaceutical companies
- self-employment

Aromatherapy has become a very popular form of treatment. It is possible to set up business as an independent aromatherapist, but aromatherapy is ideally practiced in conjunction with other health and beauty techniques, which will also widen employment prospects.

Aromatherapy Society of Southern Africa
P O Box 21941
Bluff, 4036
Tel: (031) 466-6426 Fax: 031-4662914

Massage Therapy Association      
P O Box 53320
Kenilworth, 7745
Tel: (021) 713-3006 Fax: 086 503 6016