Unstoppable & Unforgettable
Grande-Dame Jeanne Rose
for Scented Thymes 12/03
about every interview that has been done with Jeanne Rose has just
about always included pretty much the same questions.
“How long have you been involved with herbs and
did you get started?” “What
is your favorite flower?” What
do you think of today’s aroma-herbal industry?”
would seem, that the time has come for some new questions to be
posed to the Grande Dame of Aroma-Herbalism!
Ms. Rose is, after all in my opinion one of the greatest
treasures in the aroma-herbalism world, and one that I feel is
overlooked far too many
times. A pioneer,
a visionary, and a woman who has overcome a major health illness
only to emerge stronger than ever before, Ms. Rose works tirelessly
to educate those who want to learn more about the benefits of
aromatherapy and herbalism, and she has as well
single-handedly created the successful non-profit Aromatic
following interview was conducted via telephone with Ms. Rose who
was in her beautiful San Francisco Victorian home, and also via
email. Now that 3,000
miles separates us, I miss not being able to pop over to her home,
enjoy her garden, work in the herb room
and sit in amazement (usually holding my sides in hysterical
laughter!) at her infamous anecdotes.
the reader is hearing about Ms. Rose for the first time in reading
this article – please do yourself a favor and pick up the book
that started it all, “Herbs
and Things.” The
current copy I possess is dog-eared and the pages are falling out
from constant reading and reference – and I wouldn’t give it up
for the world.
I have chosen to present Ms. Rose’s answers to my questions
verbatim – as editing her answers in any way just doesn’t do Ms.
Rose justice. Personally,
I am looking forward to many more exciting years of learning under
What is the biggest misconception about you that people have?
JR: I definitely hear
the funniest things about me from people who do not know me, who
have never taken my classes but seem to have a very strong opinion
about me. One of the oddest that I ever heard was that I would not
let people go to the bathroom during my classes. Duh!
Are they crazy? I have potty breaks, breaks, and lunch
breaks, 10 minutes out of every hour and an hour lunch.
Another one is that I am mean – What I expect they
really mean to say is that I do not suffer fools lightly and I do
demand respect and attention in my classes. I have noticed that
there is a general lack of attention and lack of respect for
teachers in this country - the younger the person, the less they
know, and the less respect they have for authority. In any case, I
can tell you that I definitely have the best aromatherapy
students in the country. If they stick with the class and complete
the home study course, they learn, they are creative, they are not
followers, they are leaders, and they are fabulous.
You probably have heard weirder things than I! What
What is your current pet peeve?
JR: People who refuse to
read; who call me and ask me to define aromatherapy, essential oils
and other basic terms and/or refuse to purchase a $15 book so that
all the information will
be right there for them. A
dictionary — have people really forgotten the value of a good
other current pet peeve is my total inability to ‘get’ a joke. I
just don’t get it and so that makes it really easy for anybody to
You were among the first to see "Pear" essential
oil. How was that
experience to actually witness the "birth" of a new
essential oil? Is this
an oil that will be readily available?
JR: Other than the
distiller who separated the Pear essential oil from the distillate,
I was the 2nd person to see it. Arthur Tucker who
analyzed it said “Wow!”. Of course at $20,000 a pound, it simply
is never going to be available. If only US citizens respected
Agriculture, then we would stop bulldozing fields of Pear orchards,
we could develop a way to more easily extract the essence from the
Bartlett pear peel, we would have it available and it would make the
most fabulous and fragrant skin care products.
I have let hundreds of my students smell this yummy oil. Many
don’t believe that it is real.
Your book, “375 Essential Oils & Hydrosols” is
such a great addition to any aromatherapy library.
Do you have any additional new books that you can tell us
JR: I have since written
and “Distillation-A How-To
Booklet”. I have “100
Aroma/Herbal Treatments” coming in the spring. But honestly, big
publishers are NOT flocking to my door. I could be doing so much
Your anecdotes are legendary, extremely honest and full of spunk.
Any chance that you'd consider putting together a book of all
your anecdotes weaved with the spiritual/ritual uses of herbs and
JR: This sounds like a great book to write, sort of like a biography
but with all that therapeutic information intertwined. Sure wish
there was a publisher that wanted me to write it and would give a
hefty advance. I probably have forgotten more anecdotes than I
remember. It would be fun to travel around and find
people who remember them. I wish that I had written them down
as they happened. Who would know~! I also notice that I am editing
out of my memoirs the more lurid details of my life. I would like to
write “Essays on Herbs and
Aromatics” ... Umm! maybe that could be a title. Some serious
info and then a tacky tale or two and an herbal receipe attached.
Maybe we could call it “Tomato
As THE person who coined the term "hydrosol" you
must be thrilled at how the use of hydrosols is gaining in
popularity & consumer awareness.
What do you see as the next level for hydrosols in the next
JR: Yes, I am pleased that after 13 years discussing and 10 years
conducting distillation workshops and 9 years of the
Aromatic News reporting on the use of hydrosols that there is
actually some awareness. I am not so happy that unscrupulous
grower/distillers are pretty much selling water as hydrosol. Just
because there is some plant material in the still it does not mean
that the distillate is hydrosol. Hydrosol is only the first 25-50%
of the watery distillate, it is strongly flavored, strongly scented
and has a pH of less than 5. If it looks like water, tastes like
water, smells like water and has a pH of 7 -IT IS WATER.
HOPE that in the next few years there will be some real standard for
hydrosol - that growers will grow the best plants, that distillers
will be honorable, that consumers will be knowledgeable and that
reporters will report the true facts. [I must be mad if I expect all
wish that people would really use these products, not just to spray
on their face, but to use in the bath for themselves, for their
family, for their health and well-being, for therapy. Heck, 99% of
the US still doesn’t even know what aromatherapy is - they can
hardly pronounce the word.
What is the current progress of the Aromatic Plant
Project? If someone were
to want to use their land to grow plant material for the A.P.P., how
would they get involved?
JR: People do not grow for the APP, they grow for themselves
– the APP is an educational resource.
We are out there educating, talking and teaching. Growers
just need to sign up and pay their membership.
With that membership they get all the hands on and verbal
help that they need. There is a membership form on the internet and
in “The Aromatic News”. People do not grow for the APP - we are
an educational resource. People grow for themselves, take their
product to a distiller or I teach them to distill it themselves.
Right now the hardest part is the marketing. There are 1 or 2
companies that are successfully marketing the hydrosols. I hope that
will change and that more consumers
with desire the quality product, that more distillers
will distill a quality
product, which will encourage more farmers to grow a quality
product. That will suit one of the missions of the Aromatic Plant
Project which is to protect land and keep it as farm
land. Our mission statement
Today for a Fragrant Tomorrow.)
The internet has become a huge melting pot for people
selling aromatherapy products and for obtaining aromatherapy
do you feel this will affect the aromatherapy industry, as well as
teachers such as yourself who really do have the ability to certify
JR: What a load of junk is on the internet. I still find the best
aromatic products to be by mail-order. Internet Certification is
nothing. I think that students know what is good education and what
is just a front to sell products. At some point I will have to
retire. Who is going to
travel as I do to teach? And even now my sponsors sometimes have a
difficult time getting people to sign up for classes as you well
know from the problems we have had in Arial.
Would you ever consider putting out a bi-monthly or quarterly
JR: I don't know what
you are talking about. What is an ezine?
What do you like/dislike the most about today's
aromatherapy products compared to the products of 5 years ago, or
even 20 years ago?
JR: Twenty years ago, I had just stopped making products for my
company, New Age Creations (started in 1967).
Many products were available that I felt were truly natural.
With the advent of more technology; ‘natural’ ingredients are
being divided, separated, isolated, and the components are being
used in products. This, as far as I am concerned, is no longer
natural. There are tons of petroleum-based products that are touted
as ‘natural’. Most of what we use, we don’t need. The most
important ingredient skin care is good soap. A nice clean pure
simple soap. I used to like all those colored soaps with stuff in
them -the older I get the more I am attracted to simple pure white
soap with a clean odor that is made from vegetable oil (coconut and
olive) and lye and simply scented with a really pure essential oil
for the scent and the therapy.
soap is made correctly this is the perfect ingredient. I use that
same simple soap as a shampoo. I also use really simple things like
vegetable oil (shea butter and olive oil) directly as a moisturizer.
I still make my own bath salts and also use Moor mud baths. KIS is
my motto [keep it simple]. Those
skin care regimes that use greasy or oily bases as skin cleansers
just don’t work. My only concession to modern stuff is the
occasional conditioner after shampoo. But I don’t dye or alter my
hair and thankfully it is still very dark with a simple white streak
as a concession to my 66 years. It is all that Rosemary Shampoo that
I have used that keeps my hair dark and healthy.
think we have a plethora of skin care/aromatherapy products that are
unnecessary and redundant.
the 2nd most important beauty ritual is THE BATH. Do you
know that there are some homes that are no longer even built with a
In your opinion, what do you feel is the biggest mistake
that consumers make when buying aromatherapy products or in
selecting aromatherapy certification courses?
JR: Buying too much and not reading the label. If you can't
pronounce the words or understand them they are probably synthetic.
Regarding aromatherapy certification courses, IF IT SOUNDS
TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE IT PROBABLY IS.
If it costs more than $325 a weekend it is too much.
If the home-study course costs more than 3 figures and you
get less than 400 pages, or the words are font size 16 with lots of
headers, it is too much money for not enough information.
Would you still consider putting out a smaller aromatherapy
What do you most enjoy doing at this point in your life?
JR: LIVING IS GOOD.
MARTINIS ARE TERRIFIC. WALKING IN THE MORNING IS DELICIOUS, SMELLING
FRAGRANT AIR IS LOVELY.
What do you miss the most?
JR: MY WAISTLINE.
Recently, your beloved dog Madame Wolfie, passed away.
If it's not too much to ask, how have you dealt with healing
JR: Madame Wolfen and Mr. Sumo, Sumo and Wolfie, I had
altogether for over 18 years. Sumo got deaf, then lost his ability
to climb stairs and we put him to sleep in Equinox 2000, Wolfie was
really lonely and began to howl. She made me start walking her and
she and I walked in the park for a mile every day for the rest of
her life. Like all Siberian Huskies she spoke with howls, howling,
mouth sounds and smiles. One day that stopped. She had gone deaf but
pretended she could still hear. The she developed a tumor over the
area where she had been hit by a car years earlier. It did not seem
to bother her so we just left it alone. At the beginning of this
year, she seemed fragile and slow. Literally, overnight she went
from capable to incapable of going down the back stairs to relieve
carried her down the stairs. Wolfie
never liked to be picked up, she always wanted to walk on her own.
That became the day. We put her in the car and Amber and I took her
to the park and we walked her one final time in the park, so she
could smell things. Then we took her to the vet. Even the vet cried.
Both those dogs were such good creatures,. When Wolfie left, I
suddenly realized I was alone in the house. Now this was the first
time in my life that I had lived totally alone- there were no
parents, no children, no roommates, no tenants and no pets. Whew! I
woke up in the night and there was no breathing. Yes, I was
emotional about these deaths because after all Sumo had lived for
over 15.5 years and Wolfie over 16 years. That is a long time for
big dogs. But then one morning a few weeks after we scattered Wolfie
ashes in the yard, I could not raise my arms above my shoulders,
they had frozen in their sockets. It is now 9 months later and I am
beginning to get motion back, every time I walk in the park, I think
of that wonderful black and white, blue-eyed dog and cry. Maybe my
physical problem was an external manifestation of the emotional pain
that I was not acknowledging. I don’t know.
I cry at dog commercials, I cry when I read about a gallant team of
huskies in a book, smiling dogs are guaranteed to make me shed
tears. I loved those dogs, I really loved Wolfie. I had those dogs
in my home for more years than I had my children and they were nicer
too. I don’t know yet how to heal totally but I am working on it.
Your aromatherapy and herbal intensives are fabulous and
well worth the educational investment.
If someone wanted to sponsor an intensive or distillation
workshop, how would they go about setting it up?
CALL ME UP, GET THE
INFORMATION, CHOOSE THE DATE, PAY THE DEPOSIT, GET THE STUDENTS, Pay
Attention TO THE PROMOTIONAL ADVICE, SIT BACK AND LET ME TEACH. IT
Since women are the ones that usually sponsor me, the
hardest thing for them to do is to sign the agreement. Signed
agreements seem to terrify women.
Also, people like to think that they appreciate education but
when it comes right down to it, that does not seem to be the case.
Keeping in mind that everything that you do, what helps you
to stay so focused?
JR: THE PROBLEM IS THAT
THE MOMENT I STOP TEACHING IS THE MOMENT THAT I NO LONGER AM MAKING
A LIVING. SO THE THOUGHT OF POVERTY KEEPS ME VERY FOCUSED.
Remember that I have never worked for anyone,
therefore, I have no retirement plan, Social Security gives me
just about enough to pay my house and car insurance and have
I think that education is the cure for many problems. I wish I had a
lifetime grant to teach, so that I could teach and not have to
charge for it. My work is not done - there is still so much to do.
Which 3-5 essential oils would you recommend for those who
suffer from stress and anxiety due to their fears and concerns with
today's world situation?
JR: The same that I would use for any Stress situation.
A good Lavender, maybe from Bulgaria or Tasmania, Bergamot,
Spearmint to make you smile, Rosemary Verbenone for gentle
stimulation, loving Ylang-Ylang, hydrosol of Lavender and infused
Any thoughts on
how you can't go anywhere without running into some sort of
i.e., dishwashing soap, car fresheners, laundry detergent,
carpet freshener, hair care, hair color, etc.
JR: Well, it
certainly is not aromatherapy, it is what the Fragrance Foundation
calls aroma-chology. Aromatherapy
is for human health and well-being, aroma-chology is for the
pocketbook of business. All
of these synthetic products are not doing the human condition any
good, nor is it good for the environment.
Describe what the ultimate pampering experience would be
A week at Rancho La Puerta in 1973 when they had the really
fabulous herbal wraps, slimming good organic food and a somewhat
primitive environment. Now
it is as sophisticated and elegant and modern as are all the others.
Still, I did teach them about distillation and they are now
distilling and using their own Rosemary for the wraps and in the
SPA. Okay, send me there
for a week. No TV, no
phones and lots of reading and body conditioning.
Maybe I will find my waistline again.
I lost it a couple of years ago and can’t find it anymore.
baths, herbal wraps, pedicures, manicures, lots of weight training,
body conditioning, reading, long comfortable night-time sleeps,
massage, mud baths, Aztec inhalations, simple food, and anything
else that comes to mind. Umm!
yes, send me to a SPA.
There has been a lot going on with the Institute of
Aromatic & Herbal Studies that includes some pretty exciting
recent accreditations. Could
you tell us more about it?
Both the Aromatherapy Studies Course and The Herbal Studies
Course have been accredited for some time.
These distance-learning classes are accepted by the
California Board of Registered Nurses for CE, by the Texas Massage
Board, by ABMP (Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals), and
considered by the NCBTMB (National Certification Board for
Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork).
There are other Certifications as well.
These are all very important and Nurses and Body workers can
get Continuing Education credits and units by taking my home-study
courses and in-person classes. Yes,
it is exciting!
With the internet, home-based and small aromatherapy
companies are popping up constantly overnight.
In your opinion, what is the biggest mistake that women make
when they are trying to start up their own AT and/or natural body
JR: Trying to
reinvent the wheel, not doing the homework to first find out what is
already out there. They
should also take a basic business class to find out how to do
business, how to keep accounts, they also must remember to include
in their pricing structure the cost of producing the product –
that includes gas, electric, water. Many
women who work at home under-price their product because they
neglect these simple costs – so when they move out of the home and
try to continue making their product they lose money.
Think ahead. In
my blending classes I give a simple mathematical exercise to the
class because women fear mathematics – yet you have to know how to
adjust measurements from ounces to pounds from grams to ounces, etc.
to make consistent products.
What's next for Jeanne Rose?
JR: I haven’t a
notion – what do you think?
visit Jeanne Rose on the web at www.jeaanerose.com
or at the Aromatic Plant Project website www.aromaticplantproject.com
for updates on Jeanne’s work, her calendar of events, or to order
any of her fabulous books!
continues to train under Ms. Rose in all things aroma-herbal.
She is a freelance writer, an artist and is the editor for
the Scented Thymes online ezine. (www.scentedthymes.com)
Kimberly currently resides in Atlanta with her husband and
All rights reserved 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006. No part of this article may
be used without prior permission from Jeanne Rose.
© Authors Copyright Jeanne Rose,