Course 16 | Aromatic Medicine

Students will leave this course with an ability to use essential oils and advise on their safe and effective application.


Length: 6 hours

Instructor: Peter Conway | Medical Herbalist, Aromatic Medicine Specialist

This course is only available with the following program:

  • Community Herbalist Program

    Full Certificate Program

    view course

Meet your course instructor

Peter Conway | Medical Herbalist, Aromatic Medicine Specialist

Peter Conway trained as a Medical Herbalist in the UK, where he ran a clinical practice for over 20 years. In addition to seeing patients, Peter has taught herbal courses at several UK universities and other academic institutions, been involved in herbal politics as a committee member of the European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioners Association, and written several books about herbalism. He was involved in writing the National Professional Standards in Herbal Medicine in the UK and worked with the UK Department of Health in developing professional regulatory standards for herbal practice. Peter was the President of the College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy for 12 years. In recognition of his services to the herbal profession, Peter was made a Fellow of both the College of Practitioners of phytotherapy and the National Institute of Medical Herbalists. Peter now lives on the west coast of Canada, and he is a member of the Canadian Herbalists Association of British Columbia. He is currently teaching at Pacific Rim College, working on the revised second edition of his textbook, ‘The Consultation in Phytotherapy,’ and developing an online project that aims to share his herbal insights more widely.

Course description

This course introduces the theory and practice of ‘aromatic medicine’ as an approach that is distinct from aromatherapy. It focuses on applying essential oils specifically in treating medical conditions rather than in modifying general states of being.

A thorough grounding in the key principles underlying the practice of aromatic medicine is provided, and treatment strategies and protocols are considered. We look at essential oil production, chemical composition, and modes of application, as well as addressing considerations of quality, cost, storage, and sustainability.

Numerous examples are given to show how you can begin integrating essential oils into your life and herbal practice straight away. While some of the specific essential oils covered in this course are not in the materia medica for the program, the following is a list of herbs from the materia medica that can be found and used as essential oils, with care:

• Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

• Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

• Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum)

• Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)

• Lavender (Lavandula spp.)

• Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)

• Linden (Tilia europaea)

• Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

•  Rose (Rosa spp.)

• Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus Syn. Rosmarinus officinalis)

• Sage (Salvia officinalis)

• Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

• Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

• Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Upon completion of this course, you will have the ability to:

• Understand the relationships between aromatic medicine, aromatherapy, and herbal medicine.

• Have a broad and robust foundation for working with essential oils

• Feel confident to responsibly use essential oils

• Understand the topics of safety and ethical practice, including plant sustainability considerations

• Understand the evidence base, both traditional and scientific, for aromatic practice

• Understand the capacity for essential oils to remedy some healthcare challenges

• Understand the potential for aromatic medicine as a vital branch of herbal medicine

Lesson plan

Section I | Welcome

1. Introduction

2. Course outline

Section II | Introductory context & definitions

3. What is an essential oil?

4. How to smell an essential oil

5. What is aromatic medicine?

Section III | Opening up the oils

6. Plant names

7. The phytochemistry of aromatic medicine

8. Chemotypes

9. Roles of essential oils in plants

10. The therapeutic potential of essential oils

Section IV | Essential oils safety & efficacy

11. General safety considerations

12. Specific risks of essential oils

13. Essential oil safety advice

14. Essential oil research

15. Quality & sustainability considerations

16. Cost considerations

17. Storage & shelf life

Section V | The practice of aromatic medicine

18. The concept of interfaces

19. The skin interface

20. Topical application demonstrations

21. The respiratory interface

22. The digestive interface

23. Internal use demonstrations

Section VI | Conclusion

24. Course review