A few years ago, I was planning a trip to the Bay Area in California when Sylla said to me, “Well, you’ve got to go see Jeanne Rose.”

A few years before that, while I was attending Mark Webb’s Aromatic Medicine Certification Course, Jeanne Rose came up at dinner. Another classmate mentioned that an aromatherapy teacher once said there are two teachers she needs to learn from before it’s too late: Sylla Hanger and Jeanne Rose.

Jeanne Rose is an aromatherapy legend. She founded New Age Creations in 1967, the first body-care company in the United States to use aromatherapy. She has written a number of books on aromatherapy and herbs, including Herbs and Things, The Herbal Body Book, and The Aromatherapy Book. As Director of the Institute of Aromatic Studies, she brings 45 years of experience and personal research to her aromatherapy practice. She founded the Aromatic Plant Project to introduce hydrosols to the public and invented the word “hydrosol.”

It was thrilling to think about meeting someone who influenced my mom and so many others in her decades-long career—someone whom former students talk about with awe and admiration, who is even sometimes referred to as a force of nature. Jeanne Rose was there not just in the beginning of aromatherapy in the US, but also as a staple of the 1960’s counterculture movement and beyond. (See her featured in the 2016 book, Hippie Inc.)

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On a Tuesday around noon, I met Jeanne Rose at her favorite restaurant in San Francisco. Sitting there with this aromatherapy icon, I felt humbled to share an afternoon with her in the place where everyone knows her name, in the city that’s been her home for over 50 years.

We talked about aromatherapy and everything else—the food, the views, and her thoughts about the changes she’s seen in our field.

Jeanne and I at her favorite restaurant in San Francisco.

Jeanne’s got something to say about everything and is unapologetically herself—a trait that I also admire in my mother.

After our meal, we went back to her Haight-Ashbury home where she still teaches one or two classes a year. Her classes are open to a select few each time, and I hoped that someday I’d be lucky enough to call myself one of her students.

(Actually, it looks like this is this year! See the bottom of this post to find out how you can join me at Jeanne’s next class.)

When we sat at her kitchen table on that Tuesday afternoon, she let me record a formal interview with her. What transpired was a frank discussion on the state of aromatherapy, healthcare in general, the people Jeanne trusts as resources in this field, and her daily practices for health and wellbeing.

Jeanne is someone who is always learning.

We ended the day by referring to her complete Oxford English Dictionary, displayed in the dining area for nearby reference, to look up her favorite word at the time: polymath.

Polymath : a person of wide-ranging knowledge or learning.

No wonder she loves that word so much. She is the embodiment of it.

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Nyssa Hanger: You’ve been a self-defined aroma-herbalist for many years and have been at the center of both the herbalism and the aromatherapy worlds. But many see these as two distinct fields with many practitioners being either an “aromatherapist” or an “herbalist.” Do you tend to make these differentiations in the way you think about working with plants? In what ways do you think these differentiations are harmful or beneficial?
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Jeanne Rose: That is a good question. No, I do not think of them as different but as aromatherapy being an extension of herbalism. One should know something about herbs before taking up essential oil therapy. It’s like being a surgeon without being a doctor. You should have to show a certain number of years of education. You would not allow your children to go to a kindergarten where the person doesn’t have some training? Why in the world would you recommend the unconditional use of quantities of essential oil from somebody who took a one-week or one-day or one-book course? Or said, “Oh, I read a book and I know.” It’s so stupid, don’t you think? Really. It’s amazingly short-sighted. I see this only because I see it online. People going to a Facebook account and asking, “What do I use? I have cancer.” And you think, “Are you nuts?” Or as another example, “My daughter woke up this morning … My four-year-old or three-year-old or one-year-old, and she’s covered with red sores.” What, don’t you understand about this? You probably need to call 9-1-1 or to call your doctor? Are these people mad? This is what bothers me. People need to be educated.

We need to respect aromatic education and to understand that something which is contained in a ¼-ounce vial represents anywhere from 10 to 50 pounds of product. So, would you drink 50 pounds of tea in one day? No. You wouldn’t even dream of doing that. Why would you dream of taking this much EO as medicine over a day’s period of time? It boggles my mind, let me put it that way. Therefore, you may have seen me back out of conversations, moving out of the picture. I can’t stand to be part of these discussions. On my website I have said, “Education is a physical need and a mental right.”
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Nyssa Hanger: Well, and no one’s paying you for your time or your expertise, either. But they expect an answer.
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Jeanne Rose: I would like to say one more thing about that, is that when people ask me for advice, I send them to my consultation page. I am valuable. My knowledge is valuable. I’m not going to devalue myself.

Even today, a woman who I don’t know got online and said somebody had purchased all of her products and kept calling her up and asking her for information, which she gave out freely. Now, this person has copied her formulas exactly, including her words from the website. Well, guess what, if that first woman had valued her information, she would’ve said, “You can get a consultation from me or you can take a course. But my personal formulas are personalized.” And, “Or you can always read it in a book. There’s a number of ways you can get your information.”

My advice is, “Don’t give your formulas away. Don’t give yourself away.” And I’ve seen this happen in herbs as well. Herbal people say, “Well, herbs are free information. You should be able to just get it wherever you want to.” So, they read online nonsense, utter, absolute nonsense and believe it and follow it. What happened to obtaining a good quality education?

And yes, if you grow your own and use your own and find a good way to use them, then do it. But don’t buy herbs or essential oils based on some unknown person’s recommendation.

By the way, here is a copy of one of my original labels. These are my labels from 1972 and ’73. If you notice, they are complete, including ingredients. … All you have to do is look at one. You’ll notice that it gives complete ingredients and says, “Contains pure essential oils.” It says it’s for snarls and tangles. It gives a formula number … I have formula numbers for 250 formulas. The label shows what’s in it, and it says how to use it. I think it’s pretty cool as a complete label. My earliest one, I’m looking it up right now, it says, “Contains pure essential oils of Rosemary and Lavender with Jojoba.” So, that gives you more information. Then I found this one of my aftershave lotion … This is 1972, mind you. It says, “Contains herbs of Patchouli, Lavender, Bay, Vetiver, Lemon Peel infused in vinegar and mixed with Lavender water,” which is (now) hydrosol. That’s how long ago I was doing this. That is what I was doing in 1972.


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Nyssa Hanger: Beautiful.
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Jeanne Rose: Going back to our previous discussion, let me complete my thought. Before you can be a surgeon, you have to go through about eight years of medical school, and then go through two years of surgery training. The point is that people are using essential oils with absolutely no knowledge, “as you just pointed out,” of the herbal use. It doesn’t matter, fill in the blank. I use it “on my forehead and under my nose, on my chest and on my big toe, so I go to sleep at night … ” That’s what it was—a sleeping formula.
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Nyssa Hanger: Yeah, they love to put stuff on their feet for going to sleep.
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Jeanne Rose: It’s like … “Okay, and why are you doing this exactly? …” “I don’t know. I just do it.”
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Nyssa Hanger: “Because I read it in such and such book.”
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Jeanne Rose: Or no, they never read. They saw it online. They never read, never read a book in their lives. “Where did you learn that?” “Oh, I don’t know. I learned it from someone.” “So, if you want to go to sleep at night, why aren’t you drinking Lemon Verbena tea or Chamomile tea? Why are you wasting five dollars’ worth of whatever EO, and whatever you were using, all of a sudden, you’re turning beet-red and you have an outbreak … Now you can never use this particular essential oil ever again because you used it improperly …” “Oh, I know. It was the product Sleep Easy.” It was a formula. When I looked it up, it had a dozen things in it—none of which I, personally, would use every single day.
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Nyssa Hanger: Right, and more than likely, they’re using it undiluted as well.
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Jeanne Rose: Of course. Well, maybe you shouldn’t be putting it on the big toe or any other body part until you have patch-tested the product. … And who doesn’t know that, if all of a sudden you start turning beet-red and blistered, who doesn’t just stop doing what they’re doing to go back and think about it? I think that whoever is teaching this method is doing a disservice to people. Yes, they’re making a lot of sales, but if you want to have a nice sleep at night, just take a bath. How about taking an herbal bath?
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Nyssa Hanger: Yeah, there’s a bunch of other things you could be doing.
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Jeanne Rose: Herbalism is interesting. The other one was the Sandalwood story that I posted on my blog. Well, I have three Sandalwood posts actually.
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Nyssa Hanger: Oh, they’re intense profiles. I was like whoa, this is free online? Oh my gosh. Best kept secret.
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Jeanne Rose: They are intense, and they’re new. It is a secret. And yes, you can advertise it. I have no problem with that. And the company that pays me time to do what I want to do, does not require me to necessarily talk about them at all. I completely respect them for letting me do my work … Because the owner respects what I’ve got up here (points to head). He is supporting the aromatherapy community with his support. I love those profiles and I’m getting into it. What I’m trying to do is get new information that is from scientific sites and from my 45 years of knowledge and scent experience—not from people’s hysterical revelations. (www.Jeanne-blog.com)

By the way, you know that essential oils are getting worse in quality, don’t you? Clary Sage is a big one. Clary Sage has completely changed the way it smells in 20 years. Totally.
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Nyssa Hanger: You think part of that’s due to the tobacco industry?
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Jeanne Rose: No, I think it’s the consumers because they don’t know what they’re smelling. Now, if you get a bottle that’s labeled … and some are not, by the way. If you get a bottle that’s labeled, it will sometimes tell you the plant part, tops or leaves or whole plant. Clary Sage is a biennial, and it produces a flower stalk only every other year and thus has to be only distilled every other year, and only the flower tops to get the scent that is described in the old books. Then you get the sclareol in it, which is a very specific odor.
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Nyssa Hanger: Right, I have some that’s labeled “high sclareol,” so it must be-
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Jeanne Rose: I don’t know if I believe that. I can do it by analyzing the scent. I could tell you by the odor. I just sampled 13 companies’ Clary Sage about three months ago, and I was shocked at what I smelled. Then I got my historical samples out, and the alteration in odor is enormous. It is not a good thing that’s happening, and it’s happening throughout essential oils. I have 40 years, maybe 50 years of Frankincense. I dated my oils. I put dates on them, “took them out for a martini once in a while.” That’s a joke.
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Nyssa Hanger: Yeah, I gotcha.
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Jeanne Rose: If I could possibly educate people when they buy something, put a date on it. So, if they keep it and they have it five years, then they can compare it to the next one. Because what’s happening is that probably the companies that Multi-Level Market are over-buying … They’re buying everything from everybody. They’re finding small growers and they’re giving them money. My student from Croatia, who distills Helichrysum brought her Helichrysum to show me. A wonderful product, high in neryl acetate. A company had come into her small town and told everybody there, “We’re going to buy everything that you produce,” so everybody started growing and distilling it. The quality of the product went down. My student was very picky and only picked the good plant, the flower at the correct time, and then that company never purchased the product from her town. So, they put a lot of people out of business. She is from a small town. It’s not like San Francisco. It’s like Smallville, USA. Even smaller.
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Jeanne Rose: Now, you asked me the difference between herbs and aromatherapy. My feeling is you can’t really learn about the essential oils unless you know about the herbs first.
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Nyssa Hanger: Right. I’m backtracking a little bit.
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Jeanne Rose: A lot of people buy the oils, but they don’t educate themselves. And I don’t sell much anymore. I took all my products offline. The few that I had, I removed them totally. People still ask. And about once a week, I sell a course, but not as much as before because you’re right, nobody knows who I am, nobody cares, nobody reads, and everybody wants somebody who advertises, that they’ve heard of.
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Nyssa Hanger: So, are there ways in which you’ve incorporated essential oils in your herbal medicine? What would be an example of that?
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Jeanne Rose: I already mentioned the Hair Oil. And 50 years ago, I invented a product called Bruise Juice. Bruise Juice, which is made with herbs. Now, it’s made with herbs just from my garden, and I use essential oils in it. So, I use the essential oils to make the herbal benefits more extravagant. Let’s put it that way. That product is still on my website and I still make it seasonally.
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Nyssa Hanger: Now something, just as a side note, that I’ve considered, that I don’t hear people talking about is that the first aromatherapists or herbalists, they used essential oils to bump up their tinctures.
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Jeanne Rose: That would have to be 500 years ago.
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Nyssa Hanger: Right.
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Jeanne Rose: There were herbalists thousands of years ago. There were no essential oils. There were infusions, there were macerations-
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Nyssa Hanger: But once we started having essential oils. Or, have you ever tried using essential oils in tinctures, or is that something that-
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Jeanne Rose: Well, of course. Yes, but I am one of those people who has tried everything. … Ann Barker Harman and myself are one of the few people that I personally know that are readers … We read books. My original herbal book right now on my shelf is 500 years old. I read books. So, when I decided that I was going to learn more about herbs back in 1969, I started sort of at the beginning. I read. My parents used herbs easily, but you know, I started with ancient information, beginning at the SJSU library in 1955 and working up from there. I have a vast amount of information … It’s all up here. It is from ancient books, ancients’ knowledge. A lot of people, what people are doing now, they didn’t invent it. It was done 100, 200 years ago. It is like we’re reinventing the wheel day after day after day. So, yes. I have old books. I’m a collector. I’ve given most of my books away … If you saw my library, it’s pretty empty because I donated 1,500 of my books to the Lloyd Library in Cincinnati, Ohio. I’m down to 200 books or something like that.
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Nyssa Hanger: A modest collection.
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Jeanne Rose: A modest collection, and I kept the really good or exotic books … I wouldn’t give away one of my 500-year-old herbals. … They’re worth something to me. I would not give it  away unless I figured somebody really knew what they were getting. The only other person who’s ever walked into my house and was immediately attracted to my lovely antiquarian books was Ann Barker Harman. I respect her a lot. She is a remarkable, educated person. She should be supported by the community, which she is not. Her Circle H Institute is doing great work. She’s the only other person I know that’s actually testing hydrosols and she should be supported.
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Nyssa Hanger: Yeah, I agree.
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Jeanne Rose: So, it’s herbs first. Herbs first and then essential oils. Now, even herbally … What do I do every day herbally? I actually do take Turmeric every day because I have issues … I’m old, 81. Everything’s falling apart, you know? All the ligaments and tendons are all loose, and basically, I’m in pain every single day, all day, every day. You get kind of used to it, though. Oh, and I also use Sandalwood by inhalation … This is the one thing that I learned about Sandalwood that I thought was absolutely, madly exciting. It’s scientific … I’ve provided the scientific reference on my blog, that you don’t need to use the EO or herb Sandalwood on your skin. You only need to inhale it to activate the skin cells. It was like oh my god, we don’t even have to use this stuff. So, every single day, I’m inhaling. One bottle should last most of your life.
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Nyssa Hanger: That’s a sustainable way to use it, right? Not a bad thing to be doing every single day.
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Jeanne Rose: No, it’s not bad. In my profiles, I’m trying to provide information that I know, as well as current science and information from my past … I call my personal stories “Tomato Tales.” They are my personal stuff. I have so many stories. I don’t know quite how far I want to go with that. But what I’m trying to do is research every single profile. I probably do 40 hours online before I even write it. I want to hunt, hunt, hunt, look, look, look, read, read, read. See what’s going on now and what went on 50 years ago. Also, I have all the antiquarian texts, you know?
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Nyssa Hanger: That’s pretty cool. That’s pretty awesome. Well, I just thought, in reading back on your other interviews—one from 2004, one from 2007, there were some quotes-
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Jeanne Rose: There’s some good quotes in there.
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Nyssa Hanger: There are some good ones. I don’t know if these are necessarily the best ones, but you were making predictions on what you would like to see in the future, and we’re now in the future that they were asking you about. So, I thought it would be interesting to go back to these. In the Katie Haley interview, you said … She asked what you see in the future for aromatherapy. You said, “I think that there will be more products being called aromatherapy that are not.” Hmm …
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Jeanne Rose: Which is true.
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Nyssa Hanger: Definitely true. ” … And I would like to think that there will be more people trusting the uses of essential oil therapy, wanting to educate themselves, and demanding quality information and quality goods.”
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Jeanne Rose: It sounds like people are demanding quality information, but since they don’t know what to ask-
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Nyssa Hanger: But is there quality information to be had? You know.
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Jeanne Rose: Of course. It’s there, but they don’t go to the right place for it.
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Nyssa Hanger: But it’s people like you and my mom, who aren’t necessarily in the forefront of all of that stuff, I think. Then the people, when you Google search and you find such and such, it-
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Jeanne Rose: I believe herbs and aromatherapy can do magical things, but do I believe in magic? Actually, now that I think of it, I do. Because what I believe, and you should think about this and listen. “I believe that magic is science not yet known.” I think that’s a powerful statement because 150 years ago, there was no radio. That would have been considered magical—that (sound) would go through the air. The fact is that I do believe in magic, and I do believe that as time goes on, more and more things will be possible—through science.

…  I might have to undergo open-heart surgery. Do you know how primitive that is? They crack you open like a watermelon. They open up your sternum and hold it open, grab the aorta with a clamp, clamp it off, and at my age, it can crack ’cause it’s old. Then they take your heart out, put it on a fucking table … Oh, see, now I’m swearing. Cut the heart open like a watermelon and remove the valve and replace it. I talked to my surgeon. I said, “You might as well kill me. I’m not going to do that.” So, I have to be accepted for the updated surgery, where the valve goes in through the artery in the groin, and it’s an umbrella that goes in through, just slides in and flattens your leaflets and totally replaces the valve.
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Nyssa Hanger: That kind of sounds like magic to me.
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Jeanne Rose: Yes, it is magic. See, that’s the point. 20 years ago, this would have been considered magical. So, they put this umbrella … It’s probably half the size of this (shows little finger) … in through the bottom of the heart or through the artery and press a little button and the umbrella opens. Then it opens and closes. And how many times does it open and close every day? 72 times a minute, times 60 seconds a minute, times 60 minutes an hour, times 24 hours a day. That’s a little gadget that has to work. I haven’t even done the math on that one. It’s like, oh my god. That, to me, is magical. Then of course, you have this piece of metal that’s right about here, and you can’t bend over until the skin grows around and incorporates that umbrella. That’s what I call it … I don’t know what they call it. But it’s so much more an advanced surgery than cracking you open. Anyway, this is what I’ve been doing lately, is thinking about that. (The heart beats 43 million beats in a year ±.)
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Nyssa Hanger: Researching what happens.
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Jeanne Rose: Therefore, to be affected negatively by essential oils surprised me. This was just Friday. Friday, all of a sudden, I couldn’t breathe for four hours. I can’t even remember what that oil was! If you have a bad valve, breathing is really essential. You know what Pavlov said, don’t you?
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Nyssa Hanger: Ring the bell and they’ll salivate?
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Jeanne Rose: No, he said … It’s in my Kitchen Cosmetics book. I just love this phrase. “Life is a constant struggle against oxygen deficiency.” That’s what Pavlov said.
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Nyssa Hanger: That breaks it down pretty simply, doesn’t it?
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Jeanne Rose: That’s pretty simple. I get that. Anyway, I’m trying to be accepted for the advanced surgery because I don’t think I’ll survive the other one. I just don’t. As I tell everybody that knows me, I’m pretty pragmatic. It’s like well, if I die, I won’t know it because I’ll be dead. But if I don’t die, I’ll have a stroke or some disgusting thing. I’m pretty alive right now. Brain’s working really good. So, I’d like to do about another year of those profiles before I croak.
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Nyssa Hanger: I would like that, too. I think a lot of us would like that. Oh, I’ll be linking them.
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Jeanne Rose: I am not sure that I like WordPress. The way it’s laid out, it only gives you the recent posts, or it’s done by March, April, May, June, July. Who cares about March, April, May, June, and July? I want to know the subject matter covered. I fought doing the blog for a year. This company wanted me to do one. “Well, you should learn WordPress.” I went, “No, no. I don’t want to do it. I have way too much going on. I don’t want to do it.” All of a sudden, it was there, and I found that so as long as I could write the articles on my computer first, to make them perfect, as perfect as possible, I would do them. However, I just found an error yesterday—I write books. I know about proofreading … But it is really hard, by the way, to proofread one’s own work. Really hard. So, I try to write and put it aside for a week and then write more, proofread and edit before I publish.

The mistake was, it said, “six tastes.” “Six tastes? Hmm. Salty, sour, sweet, bitter, umami … What’s the sixth one?” And it was pungent such as Camphor and menthol. It has to do with the trigeminal nerve. I wrote this five years ago, and I’d completely forgotten that I knew about the 6th taste.

I lost my sense of smell once. I’ve had lung problems for a long time, and I had to take Prednisone for six months. I completely lost my sense of smell, but I could still smell. Not smell exactly … It was like I could taste everything. I could taste the smells. I would smell something, and nothing was going on up here (in my nose), but my trigeminal nerve would quiver, and I could tell you what I was smelling. It’s a scent memory. You can’t smell it, but you know it, but you need to have a lot of practice to do that. So, as you get older, supposedly you lose your sense of smell. I’ve been practicing a lot lately.
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Nyssa Hanger: That’s good. I’m sure the more you use it, the more you’ll retain it, hopefully.
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Jeanne Rose: One of the things I teach is the Vocabulary of Odor. I teach that so that hopefully, people will understand and learn a simple vocabulary, because you know how people describe odor by their memory.
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Nyssa Hanger: “It smells like Lavender.”
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Jeanne Rose: Yes, even better. The poetry ones. J.Ring is a good one. V. Edwards is another one. They are very poetic. “The smell of the air as it wafts through the trees on a spring, sunny day.”
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Nyssa Hanger: Smells are always wafting through the trees.
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Jeanne Rose: Yes, but you understand? You don’t know what that smells like in her head. We need a vocabulary with words. Words have power, and if you know how to say something, you own it if you can say it.
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Nyssa Hanger: That’s why you should know the botanical names of the plants, right?
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Jeanne Rose: Yes, if you’ve never seen the color green and you say, “Well, it looks like a tree.” What the hell does that mean? So, you need the word green to know what green smells like … By the way, green was not a word until about 500 B.C. They called it spring. That’s what verdi, means, green. Green means verdi or what’s coming, spring. I love that. We, Ann and I, we talk about those kinds of weird bits of information.
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Nyssa Hanger: You’re my kind of lady, I’ll tell you what. I’ve actually got a question along those lines. Sarah Holmes, she interviewed you for NAHA in 2007. It was the NAHA interview, and she asked you where you see aromatherapy going …
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Jeanne Rose: Which never was published in NAHA, by the way, to my knowledge.
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Nyssa Hanger: But you also brought up this good point. “I sure hope that it is more essential oil therapy and less, ‘Let’s play with the oils.'” And giving credit to Elizabeth Jones who says that our studies should be called essential oil therapy.
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Jeanne Rose: She was the first one I ever heard say that, by the way.
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Nyssa Hanger: Who are the people of your generation or the generation immediately after you that you would like to see recognized? Ann Harman.
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Jeanne Rose: Ann Harman, she’s done something new that nobody ever did before. There are probably more, but I can’t really think of them. I would like Hilda Leyel to be really much more acknowledged for her herbal studies. She wasn’t just an herbalist. She believed in the use of the whole plant and all parts of it (that includes the essential oil). I gave a lecture on Hilda Leyel in Canada in 2013, because nobody knows about her. She wrote seven herbals that are fantastic … I have them all, but four of them are out of print, and four have been reproduced as paperbacks.

No matter, they are excellent, fabulous works that had never been done. She actually used herbs in the second world war, and she had an office. She was also a very gorgeous woman who probably was a practitioner of Wicca, but that’s only a maybe. They had an order called the Order of the Golden Dawn, which is really Wicca stuff from the ’30s. She was part of that. Anyway, she was an herbalist, and her first 10 tenets of herbalism are in my Herbal Studies Course because they are really important. Herbalism is not magic, number two. That’s a good one, and she tells you exactly why, and how it works. So, she comes before me. I think she died in ’57. I was in college in ’57. That’s 60 years ago. I’d certainly like to see her books be republished and people study her work for herbs. Also, the fact that she wasn’t just talking about the plant called herbs, but she talked about the whole plant including its essential oil.

Her first rule is, HERBS (including the essential oil), or medicines made exclusively from plants, are the natural cure for disease and ill health. These Plants have power to build up life.”
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Jeanne Rose: I don’t know what other people do. I only know what I do. I use herbs every day and sometimes their essential oils. I use my Bruise Juice as needed, which contains over 60 plant parts from my organically grown plants, and some essential oils when I need it. I have used Rosemary herb and EO in my shampoo now for 45 years (that is why my hair is still dark); I use organically grown California Almonds that I grind myself for skin and body scrubs; I use my own distilled plants from my garden. I walk my garden every day to inhale it and see what is going on.

Personally, I understand that when I distill my Rosemary, that there’s three things in there. There’s a gallon of water, 1 lb. of herb, and a quarter of an inch of essential oil. That, to me, shows me the big, vast difference in the two products of distillation. And I use the hydrosol for hair growth, the leftover herb (the marc) as garden compost, the condensation water, when cooled, to water my garden, and if there is any oil, I use that as well.
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Nyssa Hanger: Right, and why not use both, rather than just one?
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Jeanne Rose: Yes, use both, and I no longer use essential oils in the bath … For a while, I took baths using essential oils until I burned myself … It was years ago. Everything that I’ve done negatively I have written or talked about, and I’ve actually done. But I poured in some Grapefruit oil in my hot bath. It was painful.
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Nyssa Hanger: Before you got in there?
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Jeanne Rose: Yes, of course. I got in there and your vagina sucks it right up.
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Nyssa Hanger: Yep. When I was a kid, my mom put Orange oil in my bath once, and we learned very quickly that you just don’t do that for that same reason.
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Jeanne Rose: You need to only do it once, right? So, when that woman in Texas wrote her book on essential oil baths, using aromatherapy baths with 150-200 drops of essential oils; many complained about the results. She wasn’t so visible after about a year. It took only about a year. The thing is, all you have to do is read it and know it’s wrong. She recommended that you get in the bathtub with just your mouth and nose showing above water, which means that the essential oils would be literally right here (points to a circle around the face). The people were coming out of the baths with beet-red faces and that was … Guess what, it was the toxins coming out of you. Your toxins! Do people know that essential oils do not dissolve in water?
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Nyssa Hanger: Oh, yeah. Or demons, right.
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Jeanne Rose: Whatever, demons. I thought “You guys are nuts!“
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Nyssa Hanger: Which means you should use more, of course.
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Jeanne Rose: Of course. “We got to get rid of those toxins!” We don’t like that massage oil down the back, or raindrop therapy, because it’s not just the essential oils that are placed along the spine, but the hot packs that are put on afterwards. These are both bad ideas and also excessive uses of essential oils.
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Nyssa Hanger: And they’re not just any essential oils. They’re all the toxic ones, all the irritant … It’s crazy.
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Jeanne Rose: It leaves me speechless. I’m the herbalist that believes it should feel good, taste good, and do good. If it makes you shit, piss, vomit, that’s called “Heroic Herbalism.” That’s old-fashioned herbalism, by the way. It’s very old-fashioned herbalism because originally, those old-time herbalists prescribed herbs to take to extract things. So, it either was an emetic, diuretic, diaphoretic, or laxative; that is, it made you vomit, pee, sweat, or poop, something. It got rid of things.

Well, I don’t like that kind of herbalism. I want it to feel good. I want it to taste good. I want to enjoy it. Does all herbal medicine taste good? Probably not. That’s why you take tinctures and suck them down and drink water afterwards. Also, the fact that tinctures are made with alcohol. Everybody wants to use tinctures instead of herbs, and that bothers me because originally, tinctures were made for that part of the year when the herb wasn’t available. First, you would use fresh herbs when they were available. It’s just like canning. So, in the summer, all these herbs that you weren’t using fresh, you would want to can or preserve them, so during the winter, you’d have them. That’s what tinctures are for. Tinctures aren’t to take in spring when the herbs are just up. Why take Dandelion Root tincture in the spring when you have Dandelion Root available. See what I mean?
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Nyssa Hanger: Right, yeah. That makes sense.
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Jeanne Rose: But people don’t understand real herbalism like that. I think that our seed-to-table movement is important.
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Nyssa Hanger: Oh, we got that in Tampa, farm-to-table.
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Jeanne Rose: By the way, that restaurant that you went to here is all organically-grown, locally-sourced. If it’s not locally-sourced, they tell you the source. If you looked at the menu, it tells you the boat it came from.
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Nyssa Hanger: Wow.
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Jeanne Rose: That’s really important to me. Locally grown, locally sourced foods and herbs. That’s why I do that. My feeling is, in good herbalism, use what you’ve got, use what you have in your backyard. Don’t use some weird thing from Paraguay that you don’t even know about, that you have to rape the environment in Paraguay to bring it up here to use it.
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Nyssa Hanger: And expend the cost of transportation-
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Jeanne Rose: All of that. It’s ridiculous. We live in a land of plenty. This country supplies everything. … One of my students lives in Florida. She lives on four acres. She said, “I don’t have anything here.” I went, “Wait a minute. I thought you told me you live on four acres of land.” “Yeah.” “Well, what’s growing there?” “Well, I don’t know.” “Find out. Part of your job in this course is to find out.”

She said she couldn’t follow my directions for my Herbal Studies Course because I wanted something that was grown locally, in her area, to make a tea out of. I learned that she happened to have Lantana camara, which is a plant that you grow in Florida, makes flowers. It also makes a COextract for skincare. So, I said, “Well, you have Lantana, don’t you?” “Yes.” “Well, use it.” “Well, well … ” I said, “Look. You have a computer because you just emailed me.” I said, “Look it up.” “Well, how do I look it up?” I said, “Look it up by the Latin binomial, not the common name, and then get back to me …” Anyway, I always encourage my students like that. It helps them learn.

I can usually answer the question. I have a woman in Hawaii. “Hi, Jeanne. I want to know about distilling Patchouli.” I said, “Did you turn in your last month’s homework?” “No.” “Well, turn in your current month’s homework and then ask me.” It’s like, do your own homework first. It’s right there, you know? So, obviously, I don’t answer all questions directly. I try to direct them to find their own answers.
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Nyssa Hanger: That’s good. That’s how they learn. So, I know you’re a lover of words. What words are you relishing in right now? What words are bringing you delight? Or, in other words, what’s your favorite word right now?
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Jeanne Rose: Today? I mean, if you had asked me that this morning, I probably would have known one. But you understand that I have five dictionaries in this house. One of the ones I have is a 22-volume Oxford English Dictionary. So, when somebody says something to me, like the word polymath. I know the word in its two parts, poly meaning many, math meaning knowledge of. So, that means you know a lot of things about a lot. Then my friend Ray and I considered, between the two of us, we know everything. So, we laugh about it and at each other. We make fun of ourselves. He knows everything, and I know everything. I’m not an expert in everything, but I can pretty much talk about a lot of subjects. So, polymath was a good word for today because I saw somebody call herself a polymath. To me, that’s being vain.
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Nyssa Hanger: It’s a word that should be bestowed upon you?
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Jeanne Rose: Yes, I think so.
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Nyssa Hanger: Well, almost like the word expert, too, in a lot of ways. Or Colleen would talk about that. She’s like, “I’m not an expert. I’m still learning.”
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Jeanne Rose: Well, that’s what I was going to look up when I got home, was the word polymath, so we should look it up. Don’t you think?
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Nyssa Hanger: All right, let’s do it.
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* * *

As I got up to leave that day, I asked Jeanne for directions to the train. She reminded me that it’s cash only, and I happened to only have credit cards on me. While I was asking her where the nearest place to get cash was, she was stepping up on a stool and reaching for a metal canister on the top shelf.

“Earthquake money—but you can have some to get you home.”

So, I left with my interview and bus money, dreaming about when I could return to learn more from this legendary teacher.

… The time for this has finally come! See below for details on how you can join me.

* * *

Jeanne is teaching a Natural Perfumery class this August and I will be there!

Join me!

We can share in this intimate experience with a few other students (I told you the classes are small), spending six days with one of the finest teachers of the art and science we call aromatherapy.

Contact Jeanne Rose at [email protected] for more info. 

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