Friday, February 5, 2010

How I was first introduced to essential oils...

Huahine, Tahiti

It was 1977 and with my father as captain, my family and I were making the overnight sail from Papeete, towards the outer Tahitian island of Huahine.
It was dawn, we had just moored in a small quiet cove. My mother had boiled a pot tea, and coming up on deck, wedged her cup in between the deck cushions.
I came up after her, and, plopping down next to her on the cushion, upset her cup of tea and it spilled all over her thigh. Her polyester shorts, unlike cotton which would have had more of a wicking action, held the freshly boiled water tight against her leg.

I watched helplessly as she tried to yank her shorts off to give relief from the scalding water. In what seemed like an eternity but was only seconds, she was finally able to get the pants off but not before sustaining a serious burn. She pulled layers of skin off with her pants and was in pain. Our primary concern at that point was staph infection, Tahiti lies just below the equator.

My introduction to essential oils (you still with me?) came next as my father and I rowed her ashore to try to find a doctor in this very remote French island.

We finally found a small clinic off the beaten path, literally, run by a French doctor. After cleaning up my mother's wound, he layered pieces of a saturated, highly aromatic gauze over the burn, taped it down and told my father to bring her back in one week, and she was not to get the dressing wet, or to change it.

In one week my dad and I rowed her back ashore and made the same trek back to the jungle clinic. We were still not sure what to expect, but when the doctor cut away the dressing we all were relieved to see...fresh, clean and healthy pink tissue had grown back with no signs of infection.

Speaking French, my father asked the doctor what the fragrant 'miracle' substances were. The doctor told us that they called it 'BioGauze', that the gauze was saturated in aromatic substances - oui, aromatic essential oils! Ravintsara, thyme, cinnamon, oregano, lavender, lemon and some very blue oil too (german chamomile, yarrow?) ...I can't even remember the entire list but the invigoratingly clean, uplifting and fresh fragrance of all those crazy essential oils will stay with me always!

Years later as I would being doing aromatherapy facial or body massages, I would often think back at that time and what a coincidence it was that I ended up in this field...Essential Oils had truly become the friends of my senses.

PS/ my dad decided to stock his boat up with as many tins of Bio Gauze as the doctor was willing to part with...he still had the return sail back. One year later, he and his crew of 4 made a successful crossing of the Pacific...and all along the way wrapping every wound, burn, cut or bruise in the fragrant Bio Gauze...

My mother today - 33 years later


  1. Nice background story. Funny how what appeared as a random event (painfully for Mom)...really wasn't for your path. Dad's life sounds interesting too. I love personal stories, which is why I'm into history.

    Smell and color have always been entwined for me. Wouldn't imagine not having either one. Keep up the good works, Diedre

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