Royal aromatherapist promoting swine flu treatments

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Potions & Possibilities, makers of high-end toiletries and aromatherapy products, are claiming their products to be effective in the control of deadly swine flu.

A

document

circulated on the internet lists "Top 10 tips for natural infection control". Originally circulated in May, it was reissued again in July. The document contains elements of sensible advice scalped from the the Department of Health ("Catch it, Bin it, Kill it") blended with outrageous nonsense of a more profitable kind. For instance, here is founder Julie Foster's recipe for a "sanitiser room spray":

...as above but add 5 ml of Geranium to the vodka and top up the mix with 100ml of water. Use in a spray or tie pre-soaked ribbons to the bars of a domestic fan to diffuse into the room.

"What is Geranium?", I hear you ask. Well, according to the Potions & Possibilities website, it's a fragrant oil that "has a close affinity with the female system" and is "emotionally soothing". If that doesn't get rid of airborne flu virus, I don't know what will!

Tea tree oil features heavily in Foster's advice, undoubtedly because it has known anti-microbial properties. Foster seems to believe that it is "the most powerful antiseptic known to man" which explains why the Army used it to eradicate anthrax spores from Gruinard Island. Oh no, wait, that was formaldehyde, wasn't it? My bad. Still, if you're infected with the early stages of swine flu, Foster believes that the smell alone of tea tree oil will protect you:

Apply a few drops of premium, therapeutic Tea Tree Oil onto the fabric between bra cups or on outer clothing at the neck where it won't show. Your body's heat causes the Tea Tree to rise so that you are constantly breathing in this amazing oil with its antiviral and antibacterial powers.

Potions & Possibilities also produce a range of herbal soaps in conjunction with that cathedral to alternative nonsense, the Royal Palaces. Herbs are harvested from the royal gardens and processed in Suffolk for sale in palace shops. In a perfect world, someone with the power and education that comes with such a fortuitous accident of birth would be living up to his title as Protector and saving us from charlatans like Foster. As it is, the Prince is a dogmatic defender of indulgent make-believe, and it's up to broke state school guttersnipes like me to point out the fantasies touted by herb sellers.

Julie Foster says she is available for additional comment and expert aromatherapy and natural health advice. Perhaps you could ask her for evidence to support her claims for aromatherapy as an effective prophylactic against swine flu. You can contact Foster through Sharon Lovett on 07971096725 or 01394 386161 or email: sharon@potions.co.uk.

Thanks to Brendon for the original source.

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Thanks you for reminding me once again why I am a republican (though not in the big "R" American sense, or the big "R" Irish sense...though I am Irish...dammit, you know what I mean)

By Paul Browne (not verified) on 12 Aug 2009 #permalink

Also, we have these 'ere fine pomanders, sure to keep the Black Death at bay.

Have we really returned to the freaking 14th Century miasmic theory of disease?

Another great article Frank!
Whenever I read stuff like this, I always like to check up on my local 'herb and plant remedy' shop and clinic (http://www.napiers.net/). Although they don't quite explicitly state their remedies will prevent swine flu, I feel uneasy with the phrases "swine flu" and "echinacea herb" in the same article!

By Duncan Smith (not verified) on 12 Aug 2009 #permalink

Did you see that even the Torygraph's bloggers seem to have spotted that all this stuff is a total crock?

BTW, I always thought the point of a medieval grandee's pomander was so s/he didn't get a good whiff of all the sh*t (yes, I really mean human excrement) that people used to dump into medieval streets and courtyards...

PS talking of which, the Aust family recently visited this historic spot, where you can see a Tudor "garderobe" toilet with a 30 ft long drop into water. Nice. Thou hadst be very rich and wealthy to be able to poo into a water filled pit in ye olden days.

BTW, I always thought the point of a medieval grandee's pomander was so s/he didn't get a good whiff of all the sh*t

Largely, yes. But there was also a belief that disease was caused by unpleasant odours, which led to them being believed to provide protection against all sorts of diseases, including the plague.

There are two professional bodies for professional aromatherapists called IFPA and the IFA. The title aromatherapist is not a protected one but probably should be for these professional bodies. A designation like chartered aromatherapist might help distinguish the most highly qualified from the more entrepreneural.

The science behind the emphasis on hygiene is that nothing much is going to stop flu but essential oils can protect against ordinary infections like strep throat getting out of hand and killing those infected with Swine Flu as occurred in the Swine Flu outbreak.

JF's site contains references to astrological aromatherapy which most people find very challenging as few believe in predestination. I am sorry but its way too arty for me too! Theres plenty of science around to support the use of the cocktail of chemicals to be found in essential oils without resorting to astrology. Apparently I have affinity to Chamomile, Sandalwood and Lavender. Nice.

The science of essential oil use is documented in Shirley Price's book "aromatherapy for health professionals" with a forward by HRH Price of Wales and a host of evidence based publications since which the Prince sought to encourage.

Interest in the essential oils picked up during the 2009 swine flu outbreak when the press picked up on star anise. Star anise flowers are a staple of chinese and provencal cooking for their protective qualities. The actual substance gained from Star Anise essential oil which serves as the starting material for
Oseltamivir (the active principle of Tamiflu®) is Shikimic acid. Tamiflu won its reputation in dealing with the bird flu outbreak.

In all the uncertainty over the severity of the risk I for one started to take some precautions. The oils of most use in consultation with professional aromatherapists are inhalations of Thyme thuyanol and Hyssop decumbens (not Hyssop officinalis which can be harmful). These are indeed powerful but harmless antiseptics in inhalations. Eucalyptus Globulus can be harsh. For children Shirley Price recommends the use of Eucalyptus Staigeriana

For a vaporiser Sp recommend pine and lemon oil and an ioniser can reduce the amount of aerial dust and pollen on which bacteria and viruses can piggyback.

In medieval times they certainly turned to their herbs and plant oils in cooking and in the home at times of infection as we still do today as sensible self help to prevent common ailments taking root and turning into a medical condition. Dr Jean Valnets books are still in print and were very influencial in our mothers exhortation to 'eat our greens!'.