The Future of Aromatherapy

Feb 26, 2024

Is aromatherapy a passing fad, or will it become integrated with mainstream medicine? Seasoned aromatherapists, prospective aromatherapists, and aromatherapy enthusiasts around the globe are asking this very question.

Aromatherapy can be described as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of the body, mind and spirit.

It is described as both an art and a science because it takes the knowledge of the chemistry of the essential oils combined with the art of marrying the essential oils to create a harmonic, effective, and safe blend that is uniquely your own.

Aromatherapy involves botany, chemistry, safety, anatomy and physiology, an in-depth knowledge of specific essential oils and blending techniques. It also is beginning to recognize the importance of sustainability.

Although the practice of aromatherapy is relatively new when compared to other forms of medicine, the historical use of essential oils dates back many thousands of years and encompasses many cultures and civilizations.

The term aromatherapy wasn’t coined until the 1930s, giving a unified name to the practice of using aromatics for mind, body, and spirit. However, the term aromatherapy caused confusion since it implies it is therapy or healing strictly through the aroma of the substance. This certainly didn’t give the modality the credibility or respect it deserved. Nevertheless, in my 30 years in aromatherapy, I’ve seen a shift as more people have at least a little understanding of how aromatherapy works.

Let’s first look at what factors might inhibit the growth of aromatherapy. 

  1. There is not ample clinical evidence-based research on the merits of using aromatherapy for specific conditions and issues.
  2. Impacts on essential oil and carrier-oil-bearing plants such as overharvesting and climate change have resulted in an alarming number of them being threatened. Most Certified Aromatherapists are aware of the sustainability issues facing our planet and take this into consideration when choosing the essential oils they use and how much they use.
  3. Armchair aromatherapy enthusiasts who don’t know what they don’t know, overuse and misuse essential oils, share incorrect information and generally reduce the credibility of educated aromatherapists.

Factors which encourage the growth and future of aromatherapy

  1. Increasingly, more clinical research is being done. For example, the pandemic influenced researchers to study the effect of specific essential oils and combinations of essential oils to help mitigate some of the symptoms relating to COVID-19.
  2. With increased scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of some essential oils used in aromatherapy, applied topically and through inhalation for conditions such as pain and respiratory concerns, digestive issues, depression and nervous conditions, the global aromatherapy market is expected to grow significantly in the coming years.
  3. Certified Aromatherapists play a pivotal role in the credibility of the aromatherapy industry. Through comprehensive training that encompasses botany, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, safety, blending guidelines, evidence-based research, and the specifics of a variety of essential oils, these professionals gain an in-depth understanding of the science of aromatherapy. Their education, guided by universally established educational guidelines, ensures they have a thorough and accepted understanding of aromatherapy. This knowledge, when coupled with sustainability training, empowers them to make informed decisions that benefit both clients and the environment, ensuring that essential oils are sourced responsibly and ethically, and that threatened essential oils and carrier oils are not overused.

    Certification is not just a formal recognition but also a commitment to ongoing learning, keeping abreast of new research, and successful practices in aromatherapy. It is essential to understand that without this theoretical foundation and respect for the science of aromatherapy, providing the best outcomes for clients would be challenging. Therefore, never underestimate the importance of certification in aromatherapy, as it is a testament to a practitioner's dedication to both their craft and the well-being of their clients and the planet. To maintain membership with Professional Aromatherapy Associations, such as the Alliance of International Aromatherapists, the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, the Canadian Alliance of Aromatherapy, the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists, and the New Zealand Registry of Holistic Aromatherapy, certified aromatherapists are required to accrue professional continuing education credits. This ensures that certified aromatherapists keep abreast of new research, sustainability, new essential oils, and successful practices in aromatherapy.
  4. The future of aromatherapy in healthcare is encouraging. Scientists are researching various therapeutic applications for essential oils, carrier oils, and other aromatics. This covers various conditions and considerations, such as mental health, chronic disease management, the aging population, and combining allopathic medicine with aromatherapy. Several countries are embracing hospital-based aromatherapy programs, overseen by Registered Nurses who are Certified Aromatherapists. 
  5. In 2023, the global aromatherapy market size was $1.93 billion USD, and is expected to reach $5.7 billion by 2032.
  6. Consumer preference for natural products is increasing along with a growing awareness of the efficacy of essential oils for specific conditions is the driving force behind the global market trends mentioned above.
  7. Several countries are embracing hospital-based aromatherapy programs, overseen by Registered Nurses who are Certified Aromatherapists. 

In Conclusion

Our answer to the question “Is aromatherapy a passing fad, or will it become integrated with mainstream medicine,” is a resounding yes, aromatherapy practices will flourish and become integrated with mainstream medicine globally. Ongoing clinical research is key to this growth. Along with seasoned researchers such as Marco Valussi, Rhiannon Lewis, Dr. Marnie Reven and Dr. Kelly Ablard, new Certified Aromatherapists are taking up the mantle and making aromatherapy research their passion and career.


Faizullabhoy, M., & Wani, G. (2023). Aromatherapy market - By product (consumables, equipment), mode of delivery (topical, aerial diffusion, direct inhalation), application (mental health, pain, scar management), end-use – global forecast 2023-2032 (GMI7586). Global Market Insights.

Article by: Colleen Thompson, Cert Ed, MIFPA, RA®, EOT®, CA

For over 25 years, Colleen Thompson has been a passionate and highly respected aromatherapy educator. She has owned 3 aromatherapy stores and a holistic spa, and she founded Essence of Thyme in 1995, where she mentors budding aromatherapists from all over the world, helping them create their own thriving aromatherapy businesses.

About Essence of Thyme College of Holistic Studies

Essence of Thyme College of Holistic Studies offers 300- and 630-hour professional aromatherapy certification programs that help you grow a successful, fulfilling career by specializing and creating your market niche. Professional Level Certification prepares graduates to become aromatherapy consultants, launch product lines or retail businesses, or provide services as an adjunct to existing holistic health specializations. Master Level Certification and electives are ideal for certified aromatherapists seeking higher education or a path to clinical aromatherapy practice.

All Essence of Thyme programs focus on aromatherapy product development and advanced formulation, evidence-based research, spa and business management, international industry regulatory guidelines, and sustainability and conservation of essential oil and carrier oil-bearing plants.

Our comprehensive, evidence-based programs meet or exceed the criteria set forth by 5 international professional aromatherapy associations. Learn more about our aromatherapy certification programs.


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