Did you know if you did Internet search for the term Aromatherapy you would get over 45 million hits? That's a lot. It might show the popularity of Aromatherapy, but it doesn't give us an indication of the credibility of the websites or if it's related to health care. The term Aromatherapy is used in many contexts. As a way to sell products or to promote the idea of natural relaxation and health. Because of this, when you hear the term Aromatherapy, you might think of candles or household cleaning products with pleasant scents or you might think of scented lotions as a way to boost your mood. But I'm willing to guess that the intentional clinical application of plant essential oils, is not what you immediately think of when you hear the term Aromatherapy. In this course, we'll be looking at Aromatherapy in the context of clinical use. Let's start by defining the terms: Clinical Aromatherapy and Essential Oils. Then, we'll identify some reasons why health care providers should know about essential oils. We are using the term Clinical Aromatherapy for this course, which is a term commonly used in clinical settings. However, the term Aromatherapy in the context of clinical application, is somewhat of a misnomer, because essential oils often don't have a pleasant aroma or odor. A better descriptor might be essential oil therapy, but it just doesn't have the same name recognition as does clinical Aromatherapy. I'm letting you know this because you might see this term used in some clinical settings instead of Aromatherapy. So how is clinical Aromatherapy defined? One definition of clinical Aromatherapy, is the controlled use of essential oils to provide a therapeutic response. The National Cancer Institute, a United States Government Agency, defines it as, the therapeutic use of essential oils, also known as volatile oils, from plants, flowers, herbs, or trees, for the improvement of physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. So you see, clinical Aromatherapy is much more than just smelling, or creating a welcoming ambiance. There is a certain amount of specific essential oils used to create a specific measurable response. You might be wondering what exactly is an essential oil? Well, I'm glad you asked. Essential oils are natural products extracted from a variety of plant parts such as leaves, stems, roots, flowers, and rinds. They're typically extracted through the process of steam distillation or extraction which is a scraping method used for the fruit rinds. You'll learn much more about essential oils as we take a deeper dive in week two. Now, I'd like you to think about why it's important for health care providers to become knowledgeable about Clinical Aromatherapy. I assume you think it's important, or you wouldn't be taking this course. There are many reasons it's important for health care providers to become knowledgeable about Clinical Aromatherapy, including to ensure safety. Do you have patients who currently use essential oils? If so, how do you know they're using them safely? To provide credible information. Do patients request information on essential oils?. If so, do you know where to send them for credible information? To improve provider patient communication. Is it possible that patients are using essential oils, but are fearful of telling you? To stay current with setting practices and policies. Is your clinical setting using essential oils but you don't know anything about them? Does your organization have an Aromatherapy policy and you're unsure if it covers everything it should? We'll explore each of these aspects in real-world scenarios throughout this course. This will help you to develop a strong foundation on which to build a clinical Aromatherapy practice that is appropriate for your role within the healthcare system and your practice setting. You're already on your way by having learned that clinical Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of essential oils from plants for the improvement of physical, emotional and, spiritual well-being. Now that you've completed your first lesson, I invite you to post in the discussion. This is an area where rich conversations can take place as you continue learning from each other. Consider the following and then join the discussion. What brought you here to take this Aromatherapy course? And how do you envision or how are you using essential oils in your clinical setting? Next, we'll take a look at how essential oils are made and learn that not all essential oils are created equal.