Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Are you as cold and flu free as me? Could it be the natural perfume materials you use, either through inhalation or ingestion? Inquiring perfumers want to know!

I want to thank Christopher of White Lotus Aromatics for bringing the passage from Chapter XXL (quoted below) from George William Askinson's book Perfumes and their Preparation (1892) to my attention. Christopher added a link to this part of Askinson's book to his Facebook feed, and I wanted to quote it here, because this passage from Askinson's book shows that the antimicrobial value of airborne essential oils were recognized as killing the bugs for many centuries. 

When I tell people I haven't had a cold or flu since December 1970 - yes, 1970 - they are shocked.  For many years, I told them that I think my use of fresh herbs and essential oils in my food and drinks built up my immune system.  EOs are fabulously anti-microbial, and many aromatherapy/medical research studies have documented that fact.  The studies, however, mostly address the inhalation or ingestion of oils after an affliction occurs, and do not speak of addressing the strengthening of the immune system over time.  The strength of the immune system is my focus, because of my freedom from viral respiratory problems.

Askinson's reference re: Ungerer is what really caught my eye - that the workers in perfume factories seemed free 'from disease of the respiratory organs...'.  So, I suppose not only my decades-old ingestion of the oils is to get the credit.  I had built up my immune system by inhalation, too.  Now, this is not news for aromatherapists, but I know that many perfumers have never studied or perhaps do not believe in aromatherapy.  This is for you, the non-choir members, because I know those of us who believe in the healing/anti-microbial properties of natural aromatics are the choir, and I don't need to preach to them.

In all fairness, I know of many perfumers who do suffer from bad colds and flus.  I also note that these tend to be older, and perhaps discovered natural essences late in life, and thus did not build up their immune system as well as I did, since I was using them since my teenage years.

Most of us do not live in a cloud of EOs, as the perfume factory workers may.  Of course, that cloud, even at barely-detectable levels, would kill the germs in the air before the workers had a chance to inhale them.

After reading the excerpt below, I'd love to hear from you - are you cold- and flu-immune?  How long have you been using EOs and absolutes?  What do you think of this post - believer or debunker, and at what level - do you constantly, almost every day, have airborne EOs around you, and/or do you also ingest them? 




WHILE the popular use of perfumes, of course, is due to the
pleasurable sensations resulting from the inhalation of their
agreeable odor, it is well to call attention to the fact that they
have a recognized antiseptic and therapeutic value as well.
A belief in the antiseptic value of perfumes is very ancient,
and the custom of burning aromatic substances was general in
times of epidemics during the middle ages, but it was not until
very recently that this belief was confirmed by practical experiments.

Criton, Hippocrates and other ancients, classed perfumes
among medicines, and prescribed them for many diseases, especially
those of a nervous kind. Pliny also attributes thera-
peutic properties to various aromatic substances, and some
perfumes are still used in modern medicine.

The late Mr. W. P. Ungerer was the first modern observer
to call attention to the antiseptic qualities of perfumes in general.
He suggested that the fact.of so few cases of tuberculosis existing
in the flower-growing districts of France was attributable to the
atmosphere being so full of the germ-killing odors of the flowers.
He also pointed out that many working in perfume laboratories
were free from disease of the respiratory organs, and that those
with bronchial affections often unconsciously cured themselves
in the atmosphere filled with the odors of the volatile oils.

Later this theory, based upon years of observation, was con-
firmed by several series of scientific experiments as to the germi-
cidal qualities of several of the essential oils used in perfumes.
M. Chamberland, of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, MM. Cadeac,
Meunier, and Smetchensko experimented along the same line
and M. Charrin presented a note to the French Biological Society,
emphasizing and supporting their conclusions.

To read more about the experiments, you can read the Askinson book at Google by clicking here.


  1. Absolutely! When used both in natural perfumes and as ambient essential oils--they purify the body and the home. EVERYONE who comes to my home comments on just how "different" the house feels. I credit it to the use of all these natural materials--synthetic-free perfume materials and synthetic-free incense. Powerful stuff!

    I'm also a doctor (Chinese Medicine) and use perfumes as medical prescriptions, as well as EO's that I'll blend for topical use on patients. Really makes a difference--and puts the BIGGEST smiles on people's faces!

  2. I, too have been flu free for 25 years. During this time I can say that I've had a cold about three times. (I've only been working with essential oils for the past 3 years) I attribute this fact to a healthy lifestyle, exercise, and diet.
    This past Winter I felt a cold coming on and made a steam vapor using essential oils. The cold and congestion were relieved within 24 hours. So, yes, I believe that the use of essential oils do play a role in aiding the immune system
    I use lavender essential oil whenever I shampoo the rug which leaves a nice scent in the air and reduces the bacteria.
    As far as the flu virus is concerned, I read that this virus doesn't survive in hot climates.

    My Two Scents,

  3. I can't say that I'm cold and flu free(unfortunately) but I do use essential oils when I do get sick, especially thyme, peppermint, ravensara, eucalyptus, and the coniferous oils. I also use cinnamon and clove. They help immensely. I use a couple drops of each(I usually use thyme, peppermint and ravensara) in my shower, I just drop them on the floor of the tub and the hot water releases the oils in the steam. I use herbs as teas as well and also medicinal mushroom and plenty of garlic, ginger and hot peppers. I also use Emergen C. They really help although I will occasionally, usually once a year, get a killer flu-like cold that kicks my butt and no amount of herbs or essential oils will do anything to it. I have noticed lately that colds have been going around work for the last two months, a couple of my coworkers have gotten sick twice already, but so far, I have not been touched(knock on wood). AND I have been blending and sniffing a lot of essences lately.....
    Brian S


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.