Five Minutes With Geraldine Howard

The co-founder of Aromatherapy Associates (left) started practicing aromatherapy in 1975 and her essential oils are now distributed in 47 countries around the world. What’s a simple way we can incorporate aromatherapy into our...

by Kathleen Baird-Murray


What’s a simple way we can incorporate aromatherapy into our lives? Mentally, I couldn’t survive without it. Try a quick inhalation of frankincense essential oil to calm you down or clear your head. Combining aromatherapy with vegetable oils is fantastic for hair, body and face.

You’re not talking the sort of vegetable oil people fry potato chips in, are you? No, my favorite is evening primrose oil, which is great for softening the skin and smoothing hair. For the face, apple seed and date seed oils are great for stimulating collagen. To all these oils, just add a few drops of rose essential oil—it stimulates circulation. In fact, if I had only one product to take to a desert island, it would be rose essential oil, it’s fantastically uplifting and encompasses everything I love about aromatherapy.

Give me an example of aromatherapy at its best: When it can transform someone mentally, which in turn has a physiological effect. To get the brain in the right place is the most difficult thing in the world, but modern science will tell you that aromas will change brain waves, affecting the limbic system.

And at its worst? When practitioners get the concentrations wrong. Too much can be toxic, too little is ineffective. I also don’t like the way it’s so over-used – you’ll find it in fabric conditioners, for example. It’s so far removed from what true therapeutic aromatherapy is all about.

Summer’s here. Mosquitos are out. What’s a your anti-mosquito concoction of essential oils? Citrus oils and citronella can act as a deterrent for mosquitos but to be honest, if you’re the kind of person who gets heavily bitten, it’s not going to help much.

What’s your favorite Aromatherapy Associates spa treatment? An Aromatherapy massage. Most spas in America treat Aromatherapy massage as a Swedish Massage with essential oils, but it’s not. A true aromatherapy massage incorporates spinal pressure. I did one once years ago and the guy walked off the couch saying, “I feel like I’ve just walked off a football pitch!” and I had to say, “Yes, well that’s what happens when you unlock your spine. It’s not meant to be relaxing.” Working on the pressure points close to the spine allow your nerve supply to flow freely and that means your body organs will function better.