Since childhood, I’ve been interested in plants. My siblings and I made “salads” from clover flowers and “sour clover”, picked green beans and tomatoes from the garden and wild berries in the forest, learned that “mints” had square stems and smelled good, and learned to avoid poison ivy. I was introduced to wildflowers at park programs on our many family camping trips. In college, I majored in Botany at the University of Minnesota because I liked science but was increasingly distressed at animal experiments; while most of the coursework involved chemistry and cell biology, I especially enjoyed ethnobotany and the field trips in my taxonomy courses. As a student, I worked in the University Herbarium, processing and filing plant specimens from around the world and gaining an appreciation for the wide variety of life in the plant kingdom, which at that time included fungi, lichens, and algae.
My career as a scientist has been varied, and I have worked with bacteria, viruses, and human body tissues in medical labs, as a health educator, as a plant ecologist, and as a biology and chemistry teacher. But it was a personal health crisis that brought me back to the healing power of plants.
I had always been healthy, and up until about age 45 I had rarely been sick. But we all have periods of stress in our lives, and for me the breakup of my marriage ushered in a few years where I suffered from back pain and sciatica. During this period, I could hardly get out of bed without taking a few ibuprofen, and couldn’t sit for more than a half-hour, even in a car. At concerts, plays, or church, I stood in the back so I could stretch and walk. I felt old, crippled, and depressed. I knew I had to get a grip! I started to look for natural solutions to my pain.
I found a wonderful massage therapist, and learned to manage my pain with turmeric rather than ibuprofen. Chiropractic, yoga, trigger-point therapy and massage helped me release the tension that I held tightly in my muscles. I discovered that the essential oils of pine and spruce seemed to relieve my sciatica pain when applied topically. My sister also introduced me to a relaxing essential oil blend that helped me sleep.
I began to do some research on essential oils on the Web and in some of my “natural health” books.
I learned about the ancient and recent history of “aromatherapy” and about the differences between the various European schools of practice. I ordered oils from several online companies, and began to notice that the “same” oils from various companies varied quite a bit. I joined the International Association of Aromatherapists as an associate member in order to attend their convention. I read everything I could by Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt, of the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy. I eventually went on to complete the PIA Aromatherapy Certification Course, and also studied with the Tisserand Institute. I told my best friends that when I was done teaching Biology and Chemistry, in the next phase of my life, I was going to “do aromatherapy”.
A few years ago, my massage therapist introduced me to a “new” essential oil company called doTERRA. They had a great introductory special on a kit of oils, so I bought one. They also had lots of good Web resources, and I began to find webinars and educational presentations, which I devoured. I attended their convention in 2011, which was focused on education. Their mission was to bring essential oils “mainstream” by providing high-quality oils and essential oil education through good educational materials and a peer-teaching model. It’s been a great company to be associated with, and the community aspect has been fantastic!
As a botanist and herbalist, I value the relationships that we have with the plants in our yards and local area. I love to make “infused” herbal oils from plants like plantain and calendula, and love to teach others to do this in local classes and through online tutorials. But I also appreciate the concentrated power of a pure, authentic essential oil, distilled from a plant grown in the environment where it is native. At this point in my life, I also especially value the developing community of people who want to take charge of their own wellness. I invite you to join me in this journey!