by Katharine Koeppen, RA
By now, it's all over one of those Facebook aromatherapy groups. I apparently harbor a deep-seated hatred of Jeanne Rose, which was news to me.
I am an active participant in a number of these social media groups, most of which are full of newbies asking all sorts of questions about essential oils. Earlier this week, one of them expressed a desire to approach an aromatherapy icon about help in setting up an essential oil study. She wanted to know whom she should contact.
Another newbie immediately chimed in and suggested Jeanne Rose. I suggested that perhaps Jane Buckle or one of her grads might be good people to contact, since they were very familiar with study design and implementation, which is not Jeanne's area of expertise. Both Jeanne and her fan took umbrage, and I was basically accused of being a Confirmed Jeanne Rose Hater, as well as Jane Buckle's #1 Fan Girl.
I am neither, and I stand by my statements in that thread, which were made in a respectful manner.
Jeanne Rose probably couldn't pick me out of a police lineup; however, we were formally introduced at a San Francisco NAHA conference back in 1996. I attended her lecture at that conference, and many of her lectures at subsequent industry conferences. I've read all her books. Jeanne was probably the first person in the US to be granted the moniker "aromatherapy icon," because her contributions to the industry are considerable. She'd be the first person I'd contact if I was looking for one-on-one expert advice on distillation, cultivation of aromatic crops in California, aromatic plant history and lore, connections between herbalism and aromatherapy... and any number of other things. I've no interest in dissing Jeanne; in fact, I have a deep admiration for her accomplishments.
On the other hand, Jane Buckle has spent years of her career in academia, in hospitals setting up evidence-based aromatherapy programs, and teaching people how to design and implement aromatherapy studies. She excels at it. However, if someone wanted to connect with a heavy hitter in aromatics for Chinese medicine, I certainly wouldn't refer them to Jane. I'd suggest they look to Gabriel Mojay, Jeffrey Yuen or Peter Holmes.
My point: aromatherapy is a wide field, and all the experts possess their different areas of expertise. No one can possibly know everything there is to know on the subject.
If you're new to essential oils and looking for an instructor or mentor in a particular aspect of the industry, spend some time learning who's who. Attend presentations and classes with as many different instructors as you can so you have a well-rounded understanding of your preferred specialty. Better yet, find a qualified teacher and master the basics before specializing. No matter what facet of aromatherapy interests you, you'll be a better aromatherapist for it.
Although I haven't asked her, I suspect even Jeanne Rose might agree with that.