Wednesday, October 21, 2009

AIA Conference Review

Friday, close to midnight we arrived at the hotel in Crystal Lake to enjoy the second half of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists 2009 conference.

You can see the list of speakers and presentations at the link above. I was a bit nervous about attending - I am probably their newest member, and the membership is mostly composed of true professionals in this field I love. Teachers, health care professionals, researchers. (What am I doing here?) I'm here to learn, of course, and perhaps introduce Nature's Gift to some new friends.

Laraine Kyle greeted us in the lobby, bless her heart. Helped get our luggage up to the room, and visited and played scratch and sniff with some new oils for awhile. Then off to bed. (After 10 hours in the car on a rainy night, we were exhausted.)

Saturday started with a big hug from Jim Llewellyn of Aroma-Tours. It's been over a decade since we met in Seattle, and it was good to see him and Robbi again.The day's presentations started with a stirring talk by Robbi Zeck, author of The Blossoming Heart. "Passion and Purpose-Live a Visionary Life"... What remains in my mind is her acronym for "Passion"... Pass *I* On. She shared a collection of tools to help us live an authentic, passionate life... to live our passion. It was an empowering speech.

After Robbi, Laraine Kyle, of the Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy shared her success in using the oils in an inpatient psychiatric setting. Laraine established an ongoing program that allowed the most ill and chronic patients to participate in some aromatic self caring activities. One comment in her report leaped out at me: "It was gratifying to witness the ability of severely depressed and overtly psychotic patients to be relieved of psychological distress, overcome inertia, and respond to the positive influence of essential oils." She described several methods of "aromatic intervention" that really made a difference in the comfort level, both physical and psychic, of the patient population.

After Laraine, Anita James from the UK shared her experiences using the oils in two classroom situations, one for an "Infants School" (ages 3 and 4) and a "Nursery School" (ages 5 to 7.) The children were allowed to select their favorite oils...a blend of which were used in a diffuser in the classroom (the favorites were Orange, Lemon, and Roman Chamomile.) "At risk" children were allowed to select their own oils to create their own "Happy Blend". When possible, parents were involved to carry the activities over to the home. Parents were often taught the benefits of a stable routine, a bedtime bath (perhaps with the chosen oils) or back rub, again with the use of the oils. The results were marvelous, hyperactivity calmed, improved focus, and a general improvement in many of the problems the children brought with them from home.

After the lunch break, Mindy Green shared resources for both the organization and individual aromatherapists. She strongly urged that we at the very least get on the mailing list for the American Herbal Products Association, since they have been dealing with government regulation for years. This talk was a direct lead in to a presentation by Ashish Talati on regulatory compliance, "What you can and can't say on your labels".

In total honesty, I found that presentation totally depressing. Our labels must say "for external use only, not for internal use" or something similar. If one is offering a herbal supplement, one may legally say "supports the respiratory system" for example. But if a product is not for internal use, it is obviously not a supplement, and one can't even hint that it might have an effect on health or wellbeing. A frustrating dilemma, being unable to state what we know is truth about aromatic products.

To end the afternoon, Farida Irani gave a presentation on the use of Ayurvedic Aromatherapy. In honesty, I had trouble wrapping my brain around what she was saying. (Reminds me of the first time I read Gabriel Mojay's "Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit"... the emphasis on Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts was a challenge.)

After that, a book signing that didn't happen, but I *did* get to spend some time visiting with Ann Harman, of MorningMyst Botanicals... Hydrosol producer par excellence! (Why she wasn't a presenter is a puzzlement to me!)

Then..the banquet..which we hadn't planned on attending, but are delighted we did. We got to watch, stand and applaud as friends were honored by the association. FUN!

More on the Sunday program later.

Overall impression...I came away from so many presentations just in awe of the differences that can be made in individual lives by appropriate uses of the powerful oils we all love! The members of the AIA are doing such important work!!!

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