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Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

Are essential oils used for aromatherapy, or products that contain essential oils (soaps, lotions, massage oils, etc), considered a 'medication' by The Joint Commission and therefore subject to the requirements found in the Medication Management (MM) chapter ?

Any examples are for illustrative purposes only.

According to the FDA (^), the determination if an aromatherapy product is considered a 'medication' is based on the intended use.   If a product is intended for therapeutic purposes, such as treating or preventing disease, it would be considered a drug. For example, claims that a product will relieve colic, ease pain, relax muscles, treat depression or anxiety, or as a sleep aid, these would be drug claims.   If the aromatherapy is being used to create "a healing environment" or some other non-specific purpose, then it would not be classified as a medication.

^ The Joint Commission Accreditation Manual utilizes the FDA classification for a product as part of its definition of a medication.

Additional Resources
Food and Drug Administration
Manual: Hospital and Hospital Clinics
Chapter: Medication Management MM
First published date: November 12, 2019 This Standards FAQ was first published on this date.
This page was last updated on October 26, 2021

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