100 hour aromatherapy course. Learn to use herbal oils for health and beauty; through scented candles, massage oils, baths and more to relieve headaches, insomnia, aching joints and even depression.

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

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Learn about Aromatherapy and Essential Oils
  • Aromatherapy open learning course
  • Learn about Essential oils through Home Study

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. For instance, there are several different types of plant that are commonly known as Lavender, and more than one of these plants are used to produce lavender oil. Oil distilled from True Lavender, or Lavandula angustifolia, 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.

One of our Aromatherapy students said about the course:

"This course was very interesting, challenging and very worthwhile" N. Mills

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.


  • 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.


There are two ways that essential oils can enter the body and begin to work therapeutically. These are through inhalation and through absorption into the blood stream.

Scents are wonderful things. The smell of a scent familiar to us in childhood can bring a warm, comfortable feeling over us. Just the smell of food will often bring on feelings of hunger.  To understand how smell works and how it causes these types of reactions, we must take a quick look at what occurs when we breathe.

When we inhale, we not only take in oxygen, but also molecules which excite the cilia, or tiny hairs, in the nasal passage. These cilia react to the scent that they have received and send a message to the hypothalamus, or the control centre of the brain.  The hypothalamus controls the body and its reactions through the electronic impulses it sends to the nervous system.  The nervous system then reacts by creating a response, either physical or via a change in the amount and type of hormones sent into the blood stream.

Essential oils can also enter the body through the skin.  The molecules of the oil are normally small enough to enter the outer layer of skin through sweat glands and hair follicles.  Once it is beyond the outer layer, it reaches the dermis, which is a fat layer. Essential oils are fat soluble, or able to dissolve in fat, so upon reaching the dermis, they are further broken down and absorbed into the blood steam.  Once in the blood stream, they react with the cells in the blood much as a hormone reacts, by clustering with certain cells and causing the cells to react.  The essential oil molecules also react with the lymph, which is the system that carries impurities out of the body.

When essential oils are applied to the skin in a proper manner and in the correct dosage while also using a carrier oil, lotion or cream, the reaction that results in the blood stream is beneficial.  However, if a dosage is too high, or applied incorrectly, it can cause discomfort or irritation. This irritation occurs most commonly as a skin reaction, especially if the essential oil is applied too thickly (ie. directly applied without a carrier) and cannot absorb into the skin. These reactions are generally short lived and have no long term side effects, but they are unpleasant.

Quantities to use
All essential oils are not the same. The quality differs between different brands, and as a result, the quantity needed to be effective also differs.  A well experienced nose is the first way of ascertaining the quality of oil.  When you have used essential oils on a regular basis, and sampled all different brands, you will likely be able to determine, on smell, the quality of oil. But in the meantime, the best way to determine the usage rate is to follow the label instructions.

What is the recommended rate of use
 This should contain detailed information on the number of drops to use. A dosage allowance of 6-8 drops of oil per day for a full grown adult is considered the top dosage required for really high quality oil.  When selecting your oils, check the dosage recommended.  You may find that the less expensive oil recommends a much higher usage rate, which is a sure indication of the quality of the oil. 

The type of oil
Is it a pure essential oil - Essential oils can be used, diluted with a carrier, on the skin and through inhalation. Fragrant oil will smell very much like an essential oil, but is usually blended with other "fillers", so will not have any therapeutic effect.  Some oils are also packaged as essential oils when they are really essential oils diluted with carrier oil. These types of oils can be used on the skin, but won't need to be blended with a carrier, and they are not for use in an oil burner.

A good case in point is Rose oil.  The number of rose petals required to make pure Rose essential oil -also called Rose Otto, makes the price prohibitively expensive at about $150 for 3ml. It is not uncommon to find Rose oil on the shelf at a much cheaper price.  On closer inspection of the label however, it is often found that either the oil has been diluted – for example 25% rose oil in a jojoba carrier or it is actually a fragrant rose oil.  Pure rose oil, in the bottle, is quite a strong, even verging on unpleasant smell. 

The smell of the oil
What does it smell like - reputable suppliers, both wholesale and retail, will have a sample of the types of oils they sell, as well as the different brands. Smell and compare. The stronger the smell in the bottle, the better the oil is likely to be in overall quality. 

As mentioned above, the amount of oil used for an adult, using high quality oil is 6-8 drops of oil per day. When blending a bottle of lotion, cream or carrier oil, the rate used should be approximately 3 drops per 10ml of carrier. A person using 3 drops of oil in a bath, 4 in an oil burner and 2 applications of a lotion in the dilution detailed above, would be receiving about 8 drops of oil in a day.

– ‘The sum is greater than the whole of the parts’
This is a good way to explain synergy. In aromatherapy, a treatment using a blend can be far more beneficial than using one oil exclusively.  Look at lavender, for instance.  Lavender is renowned for relaxing and insomnia.  However, using lavender for these problems can be treating the symptoms without treating the cause. If a person is having trouble relaxing due to anxiety or tension, then a blend of Clary Sage – balancing, Sweet Marjoram relaxes muscle tension and lavender – calming would, on the whole, be more beneficial than lavender alone. The relaxation may more be a result of depression, in which case Sandalwood - grounding and relaxing peppermint - mental fatigue, and lavender would be needed.

While you may not be a trained therapist, it is worthwhile, for home use, to try to look beyond the symptoms and ascertain what the cause may be. This will help you in determining the best blend for use.  Keep in mind, though, that the number of drops used will not increase with a blend. Most adults will need to use 6-8 drops of the blend which is 2 drops of each.
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