A contraindication quite simply refers to something that is a medical reason for not doing or using something (Merriam-Webster, 2016). In Aromatherapy, when a contraindication is identified there are certain procedures that need to be followed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the client.
There are two types of contraindication: Absolute and Relative; An absolute means that there are no reasonable circumstances to pursue a treatment, and a relative contraindication is when the treatment is inadvisable but not completely ruled out. To identify which contraindication is applicable, it is important to undertake a full client consultation before treatment.
When looking at absolute contraindications specifically it’s imperative to ask for a GP referral before treatment. This way a trained medical professional can assess the client’s condition beforehand and decide whether aromatherapy treatment is suitable or not. In some circumstances, a doctor may feel that it is ok for the client to go ahead despite the condition being classed under the ‘absolute’ category. In these instances it is important to acknowledge the contraindication and treat the client with additional care with an acute level of assessment on the oils being used. Failure to do so can potentially result in the client experiencing after-effects which could alter the outcome of their medical treatment. A few examples of conditions that come under the absolute category are: Diabetes, Thrombosis, Arthritis, Skin Infections and Cancers.
When identifying a Relative Contraindication, it is essential to ask the client about their medical history including information about any other pre-existing conditions. It is only then that you can assess an adequate treatment plan. Picking the correct essential oils to use is also vital, for example if a client suffers from sensitivity to sunlight (also known as photo-toxicity) then oils from the citrus family such as Bergamot, Mandarin and Lemon cannot be used because the acidic properties contained within the extracts are too high and will only add to the sensitivity (Esoteric Oils, 1998). A few examples of conditions that are classed under the relative contraindication category are: High Temperature, Cuts and Bruises and Varicose Veins.
Esoteric Oils, 2016 (1998) Sun sensitizing (photosensitizing) and essential oils. Available at: http://www.essentialoils.co.za/sun-sensitivity.htm (Accessed: 31 October 2016).
Merriam-Webster (2016) Definition of CONTRAINDICATION. Available at: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contraindication (Accessed: 31 October 2016).