Aromatherapy: An Interview with Mindy Green

Mindy Green has been someone I have admired since I began studying herbalism in 1999. mindy greenThe book she co-authored with Kathi Keville, Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, inspired many herbalists to deepen their study of plant medicine with aromatherapy. This book continues to be a valuable resource for anyone that has an interest in herbalism or aromatherapy.

Mindy Green, MS, RA, RH (AHG) has over four decades of experience and success in the natural products and health care industries. Her expertise on botanical medicine has rewarded her with positions at Aveda Corporation and the University of Arizona’s Center for Integrative Medicine. She is a prolific writer and speaker and has her own consulting company, Green Scentsations, LLC. Mindy is an environmental activist and believes plants in all their forms create healing, globally and individually.

It is with great pleasure that I bring you this interview with Mindy Green

JB: As a lover of plants and herbs, I have at least 10 plants I say are my absolute favorite. What are some of your essential plant allies?

MG: FOR HERBS, I AM A BIG FAN OF THE NERVINES. WE ARE ALL SO BUSY AND STRESSED OUT, WITH LITTLE TIME FOR OURSELVES. I LIKE THE DAILY-USE HERBS THAT GENTLY CALM SUCH AS OAT, LEMON BALM, CHAMOMILE, LINDEN AND MOTHERWORT. I ALSO LIKE THE NOURISHING TONICS – NETTLE, ALFALFA AND DANDELION. OF COURSE, EVERYONE SHOULD BE USING THE ADAPTOGENS – SHIZANDRA, ASHWAGANDA, AND ASTRAGALUS AMONG MANY OTHER OPTIONS. I OFTEN USE MANY OF THESE HERBS IN SOUP STOCK AND OTHER FOOD DISHES… IT JUST FEELS LESS MEDICINAL AND MORE NOURISHING. AFTER ALL, THE MORE WE USE HERBS AS FOODS, THE LESS WE WILL NEED THEM AS MEDICINES. WHICH BRINGS TO MIND A FEW MORE: GARLIC, GINGER AND TURMERIC!

AS FAR AS ESSENTIAL OILS GO, I OFTEN REACH FOR LAVENDER, HELICHRYSUM, CISTUS, ROSE AND FRANKINCENSE. A BLEND OF THESE IS EXCELLENT FOR MATURE SKIN THAT HAD TOO MUCH SUN EXPOSURE IN THEIR YOUTH (ME!).

JB: Essential oil use is getting popular, in part to MLM companies that promote somewhat excessive use of their products. With the immense plant matter that it takes to create 1 ounce of essential oil, are their essential oil companies on the market that are promoting sustainable farming and harvesting practices?

MG: THERE ARE MANY COMPANIES WHO DO KNOW OF THIS CONCERNING ISSUE. WITH ESSENTIAL OILS GOING MAINSTREAM IN MANY RETAIL OUTLETS (MOST RECENTLY IN TARGET), I PUT AN EMPHASIS IN ALL MY CLASSES ON AN AWARENESS OF THE PLANT MATERIALS REQUIRED TO OBTAIN A DROP OF ESSENTIAL OIL. I ALWAYS RECOMMEND A MORE HOMEOPATHIC APPROACH TO DOSING, RATHER THAN THE HEROIC APPROACH THAT, IN MY OPINION, IS USUALLY A WASTE OF PRECIOUS RESOURCES AND A RISK TO PERSONAL WELL BEING ON MANY LEVELS. THIS IS A BIG SUBJECT AND ONE THAT WAS ADDRESSED AS A NEW CHAPTER IN THE SECOND EDITION OF MY BOOK (WITH MY COAUTHOR), 2009 – Aromatherapy, a complete guide to the healing art.

JB: This may not be an area you have insight on, but we are all familiar with natural products like Aubrey Organics and John Masters that are prevalent in natural grocery stores. Are products like these using sustainable practices in regards to the herbs and essential oils in their products?

MG: I AM NOT AWARE OF THE SUSTAINABILITY POLICIES OF THESE COMPANIES, IN PARTICULAR. THOUGH, HAVING WORKED AT A LARGE ENVIRONMENTALLY AWARE COSMETIC COMPANY FOR MANY YEARS, I CAN TELL YOU THAT ESSENTIAL OILS ARE GENERALLY USED AT VERY LOW PERCENTAGES FOR A NUMBER OF REASONS: COST, RESOURCE LIMITATIONS, CONSUMER SENSITIVITIES AND LIABILITY. ALSO, MANY ESSENTIAL ARE EFFECTIVE IN EXTREMELY LOW DILUTIONS, SO NOT MUCH IS REQUIRED, DEPENDING ON THE CLAIMS A COMPANY MIGHT BE MAKING OR WHAT THE PRODUCT IS TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH.

JB: What, if any, challenges do you see with herbalism and the natural products industry in the near future?

MG: I SEE MUCH MORE INTEREST; EVEN MAIN STREAM TV COMMERCIALS ARE BRAGGING ABOUT BEING MADE WITH NATURAL INGREDIENTS AND NOT CONTAINING ARTIFICIAL COLORS, ETC. ALSO, THERE ARE MANY DOCS BEING TRAINED IN INTEGRATIVE CARE, PROVIDING GREATER EXPOSURE FOR MANY ADJUNCT TREATMENTS BEYOND ALLOPATHY. IN GENERAL, I BELIEVE THIS CAN BE A POSITIVE STEP FORWARD, ONE THAT MANY OF US HAD HOPED TO SEE WHEN WE STARTED OUT 40 YEARS AGO. HOWEVER, THIS ALSO REQUIRES MORE AWARENESS OF RESPONSIBLE SUSTAINABILITY PRACTICES AND MORE ORGANIC SOURCING AND CULTIVATION FOR RAW PLANT MATERIALS TO KEEP UP WITH DEMAND. IT ALSO REQUIRES THAT CONSUMERS BE AWARE OF ADULTERATION IN THE SUPPLY CHAIN FOR THE HERB AND ESSENTIAL OIL INDUSTRIES.

 JB: Would you like to add anything about herbalism, aromatherapy, or your services?

MG: THE GROWING INTEREST IN PHYTOTHERAPIES IS EXCITING. I MEET NEW GRADUATES OF WELL QUALIFIED EDUCATION PROGRAMS AND IT IS GREAT TO SEE ALL THE WAYS THEY ARE INTEGRATING THEIR PRACTICE IN MODERN HEALTHCARE, ESPECIALLY WITH NUTRITION AND HERBAL THERAPIES. I WISH THEY WERE IN PLACE WHEN I WAS YOUNG, BUT MANY OF MY CONTEMPORARIES WERE THE INITIATORS OF SUCH PROGRAMS. IT IS WONDERFUL TO SEE THE EVOLUTION OF THOSE FIRST SPARKS OF THE NATURAL PRODUCTS MOVEMENT.

I DON’T SELL PRODUCTS ON MY WEBSITE, BUT PROVIDE SERVICES TO THOSE SMALL COMPANIES JUST STARTING OUT, OFFERING THE WISDOM OF MY EXPERIENCE OVER THE PAST 43 YEARS IN MANY ASPECTS OF THIS INDUSTRY.

JB: Thank you for taking the time for this interview and for your love of spreading the wisdom of the plants.  I have included a link so readers can find out more about your consultation business. 

Mindy Green’s consultation business: www.greenscentsations

National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists: www.naha.org

Alliance of International Aromatherapists: http://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org/

Blessings,

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Jessica