Course CodeVHT104
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment


Develop a basic understanding of the safe use of aromatherapy oils and their production. This course is aimed at the introductory level of education in aromatherapy. It is suitable for those wishing to gain knowledge of using aromatherapy in the home or for those working in a related discipline.

Knowing the botanical names of plants and how they are derived is an important part of aromatherapy. Most people know essential oils by their common names, such as lavender, thyme or eucalyptus. However  there are several different types of plant that are commonly known as lavender (for instance) and more than one of these plants are used to produce lavender oil. Oil distilled from 'true' lavender, or Lavandula angustifolia (and some of its cultivars), is the highest quality lavender oil. However, lavender can also be distilled from Lavandula x intermedia and Lavandula latifolia. All three smell very similar and can even be confusing for an experienced aromatherapist, but the chemical composition of Lavandula angustifolia is far superior to the other two species and is a much better therapeutic oil.
All this and much more is explained in detail and with practical tasks in the course.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Plant Identification
    • Importance of Correct Plant Identification
    • Plant Name Changes
    • Common Names
    • Scientific Names
    • Levels of Classification in Plant Taxonomic System
    • Plant Families
    • Pronunciation of Plant Names
    • Introduction to Chemistry of Herb Plants
    • Parts of a Compound; Biochemical Groups, Chemical Names
    • What is an Acid or Base
    • Alkaloids
    • Tannins
  2. Introduction to Aromatherapy
    • Origins of Aromatherapy
    • Top Notes, Middle Notes
    • Aromatherapy Consultations
    • Natural Chemicals in Plants
    • Saponins; Phenolglycosides; Anthraglycosides; Flavonoids; Mustard Oils; Polysaccharides; Prussic Acid; Glycosides; Coumarin; Essential Minerals, etc
    • Resources
  3. Essential Oils
    • Introduction
    • Benzoin
    • Bergamot
    • Cedar Wood
    • Chamomile
    • Clary Sage
    • Eucalyptus
    • Frankincense
    • Geranium
    • Juniper
    • Lemon
    • Lavender
    • Marjoram
    • Orange
    • Peppermint
    • Rose Otto
    • Rosemary
    • Sandalwood
    • Tea Tree
    • Thyme
    • Ylang Ylang
    • Australian Bush Flower Remedies
  4. Safe Use of Essential Oils
    • How Essential Oils Work
    • Inhalation
    • Absorption
    • Quantities to Use: Rcommended rate, oil type, smell
    • Blending Oils
    • Children
    • During Pregnancy
    • For Animals
  5. Carriers
    • Using Carriers
    • Sweet Almond Oil
    • Apricot Kernal Oil
    • Avocado Oil
    • Canola Oil
    • Burners
    • Inhalation
    • Spray, Basin, Hands, Bath
    • Cariier Oils, Creames and Lotions
  6. Growing and Harvesting Herbs for Essential Oil
    • Herb Cultivation
    • Harvesting different plant parts
    • Harvesting different types of Herbs
    • Expected Yeilds for Different Herbs
    • Harvesting for Essential Oils; Tea Tree, Lavender
    • Post Harvest Handling of Herbs; temperature, moisture loss, physical damage ethylene, pathogens
    • Post Harvest Preservation: Fresh, Modified Atmosphere Packaging
  7. Methods of Extraction
    • Introduction
    • Water Distilation
    • Steam Distilation
    • Maceration
    • Effleurage
    • Expression
    • Fixatives
    • Herbal Preparations
    • Preparing Teas, Rinses and Baths
    • Preparations using different herbs
    • Decoction
  8. Hazardous Herbs and Oils
    • Introduction
    • Carcinogens
    • Photosensitisers
    • Allergens
    • Hormone Like Affects
    • Teratogens
    • Cellular Respiratory Inhibitors
    • Cathartics
    • Abortifacients and Irritants
    • Alkaloids; types
    • Toxic Amino Acids
    • Glycocides
    • Terpenes
    • Plant Acids
    • Poly-ynes
    • Furanocoumarins
    • Proteins

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

What You Will Do

  • Undertake brief written report on what you understand about how plants are named
  • Give the scientific names of ten different plants from which essential oils are derived.
  • Give a brief summary of your knowledge of aromatherapy and essential oils.
  • Understand how herbs are promoted to the public in order to sell them.
  • Write an essay on the history of aromatherapy and essential oil use.
  • Suggest different blends that can be used for insomnia and other complaints
  • Suggest different blends that can be used for treating a head cold.
  • Discuss a range of oils that would be suitable for a travel kit
  • Understand the use of aromatherapy for children.- List a range of oils that would be considered safe to use for children.
  • Write a short essay on ways in which essential oils can be used.
  • Understand the use of essential oils on animals.
  • List a range of types of vegetable oils appropriate for use in massage and indicate what types of skin the oils are good for.
  • Explain how oils enter the body and how a carrier will assist with this entry.
  • Submit the bath oil blends from a Set Task along with instructions on how to use them in the bath and what conditions they are good for.
  • Understand why some herbs tend to be collected in the morning, some before flowering, some during flowering, and others at various times of the year. What impact does this have on the essential oil?
  • From catalogues collected, explain why some oils cost more others.
  • Discuss different methods of oil extraction and list their benefits and disadvantages.
  • Comprehend what is the difference between an essential oil and an aromatic oil
  • Compile a detailed costing for processing herb materials to produce essential oils.
  • List a range of essential oils that are not safe for use in aromatherapy.
  • Discuss how essential oils can be used safely and ways in which they should not be used.
  • Understand which essential oils may not be safe for use during pregnancy.

How Much Do You Know About Aromatherapy?

While the use of herbs for medicinal purposes has been around for as long as man has walked the earth, Aromatherapy, in its modern form, is relatively new.  Prior to the creation of synthetic medicines, doctors and laymen alike depended on the healing qualities of plants and their by-products for treating all types of wounds and illness.  Among these plant products where pure essential oils, extracted from leaves, flowers, stems and roots of specific types of plants. In the early 1900's the word Aromatherapy was coined by a French doctor by the name of Gattefosse.

During World War 1, Gattefosse was experimenting with distilled oil from plants, in a search for readily available medicines that could be used in the trenches during the war.  While experimenting, he burnt his hand badly and plunged it into the closest liquid at hand, which was a vat of pure Lavender oil.  To his surprise, he noticed that the oil not only took the sting out of the burn, but that the burn healed more quickly and with little scarring, than if he had treated the burn with cold water.  This event marked the birth of modern Aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy is a complementary treatment.  It is not meant to replace modern medicine and the many life saving advances that have been made over the years.  However, as people try to find more natural ways of dealing with illness, daily stresses and long term complaints, aromatherapy becomes a viable alternative to the use of synthetic medicines.

Top Notes, Middle Notes
Essential oils are classed as top notes, middle notes or base notes.  The "note" is determined by the size of the molecules that make up the oil and how long the aroma lasts.  It is also an indication of what you can expect of the oil.

Top Note:Top notes are small molecules that dissipate within 24 hours.  Because the molecules are small, they are very fast moving, and as a result are very uplifting.  Citrus oils such as Bitter and Sweet Orange, Lemon and Bergamot are all top notes, as are oils such as Cinnamon and Eucalyptus.  Once you are more familiar with the different oils, you will often be able to identify the top notes by their sharp scent.
Middle Note: The molecule size of the middle notes is similar to the size of the molecules in the human body.  They are easily absorbed into the blood stream, although they still require inhalation or a carrier to be absorbed through the skin.  The aroma and its effects will last for up to 72 hours.  Middle notes are balancing, for whatever part of the system they are used for, be it muscular, menstrual, nervous or bronchial.  Middle notes are often very useful in combination with either base or top notes, to balance the effects.  For instance, people who are looking for a remedy for "stress" may require balance and relaxation or they may need balance and uplifting.

Base Note: Base notes have the largest molecules and are the longest lasting.  To visualise a slow moving process, like a turtle, is the best way to describe a base note. They can last for up to 120 hours and are very calming.  Ylang Ylang, Benzoin, Sandalwood and Cedarwood are all base notes.  By scent, they can be identified as rich and some are considered very earthy.



  • Those looking to work in this field
  • Those wanting more knowledge on this subject from a personal perspective


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