Aromatherapist says smells heal

March 24, 1992|By Geoffrey Tomb | Geoffrey Tomb,Knight-Ridder Newspapers

Among the good smells in life are baking bread, brewing coffee, boiling cinnamon and certain parts of Montana.

Among the bad smells in life are lighted cigars, bus exhaust, high school gym lockers and certain parts of New Jersey.

Smells have power. Even power to heal. Or so says Jeanne Rose, herbalist and aromatherapist.

Ms. Rose, who was born Jeanne Colon but had the foresight for someone in her line to marry a man named Rose, is to aroma power what Norman Schwarzkopf is to military weaponry: a believer.

Seconds after being introduced, she is running a glass container of spearmint oil under your nose, talking about how it harks back to the innocence of childhood, assuring you how it will relax and soothe you, and urging you to rub some into your temples for stress relief. Temples being pulse points.

Lavender recharges you "but not like coffee," lemon balm "is stimulating and relaxing at the same time," rosemary stimulates the memory, violet leaves contain salicylic acid like aspirin and can be used before bedtime, and rose geranium, which she daubs on your wrist because it is "so peppery and masculine," is great for the skin.

Aglow but mind-stuck in the Dark Ages when basil was good with tomatoes and rosemary was good with lamb, one still may be doubtful.

Turns out smells affect us two ways -- either directly through the nose into the lower brain, which controls all the emotions in the body; or more slowly through the skin. Either way, smells have power.

Just ask the folks who live near the garbage dump.

Ms. Rose, author of eight books, is a former flower child who spent 25 years being snickered at, only to find she is now being vindicated for her natural beliefs.

"Twenty-two years ago I wrote that garlic is good for lowering blood pressure. Doctors laughed," she said. "Now all the medical journals are saying garlic is good for lowering blood pressure.

"Pure and natural. The time is right. Herbs are good for the skin. They are better than chemicals."

Ms. Rose is spokeswoman for aromatherapy products such as Vin 'n Vigor Pulse Point Cream and Tranquil Sleep Herbal Bath sold at Bath & Body Works.

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