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Meeting a Legend, Robert Tisserand…Master Aromatherapist

At  Natural Expo West last week in Anaheim, I had the pleasure of meeting Robert Tisserand, author of numerous reference books on the topic of Aromatherapy and it’s healing applications. Robert’s book, The Art of Aromatherapy, is a classic and one of the first books I ever read on the subject. His dedication to aromatherapy research has had a major impact on me. Robert Tisserand is a living legend in the Aromatherapy World.

So, it’s needless to say, that when Robert came by and took a whiff at Nectar Essences and graced me with compliments, I was singing through the roof.

Check out Robert’s Website and do read the following taken from his website :

why do plants produce essential oils?

The essential oil in a plant has two types of function: protection and communication. It affords the host plant protection from pathogenic micro-organisms such as bacteria or fungi, and/or it deters herbivorous mammals from consuming the plant. The “fragrant cloud” surrounding the plant may attract a particular species of bee, for example, that will help the plant reproduce by cross-pollination when it visits similar plants in flower. Or as with mammals, insects that would otherwise eat the plant are deterred by the slowly vaporizing essential oil.

Consequently, it is not surprising to find that certain essential oil constituents are neurotoxic to specific insects, or act as insect repellents. Because essential oils have evolved to be so effective in deterring insects, natural crop protection sprays are being commercially developed. In other cases, the essential oil may mimic insect pheromones, fooling a male insect into believing it is homing in on a female of the same species. In a few instances, plants communicate with other plants of the same species through release of essential oil, warning of predators so that plants receiving the message will increase production of anti-feedant chemicals.

Many of the same chemical constituents that are found in essential oils are also biosynthesized by insects, and function as pheromones, communicating messages such as scent trail marking, gender identification or attack alerts. For many of the above reasons, essential oil constituents need to be volatile – they need to be released as and when needed, and they need to carry their “message” across space.

the evolution of function

It is not therefore surprising to find that essential oils similarly protect humans against certain disease-causing microbes – in many cases, the same ones that can damage plants. And, it’s not too much of a stretch to believe that the interaction with an insect’s nervous system, in the course of time, evolved to include interaction with mammalian nervous systems. Many essential oils are found to be either CNS stimulants or sedatives in humans. Nature is very good at adapting, and rarely invents something new when an existing invention will suffice. Just as essential oil constituents perform multiple functions in plants and insects, so they also do in mammals. Our bodies are biologically programmed to react to essential oil constituents, which interact with a variety of receptor sites, neurochemicals and enzymes, giving them a potential for therapeutic activity.

Essential oils are an important part of the chemical soup in which all life thrives, at least on land. In small amounts, we inhale them in the ambient air, and we consume them in many fruits and vegetables. They contribute fragrance to flowers, taste to food, and medicinal properties to herbs and spices.

Categories: Nectar Essences

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Jenny Pao, Founder

2 replies

  1. Wow, that’s really interesting! I’d heard that plants communicate with each other, but I’d never made the connection to essential oils. It’s funny that our culture puts so much stock in scientific testing of pharmaceutical drugs, but we don’t realize that all these natural substances have been tested over eons in the lab of the natural world.

    1. Hi Caitlin, thanks for your comment. I love how you put it – “the lab of the natural world.” We are pretty much made of the same constituents as plants so it only makes sense that the infinite intelligence of the universe has perfected these naturally occurring chemicals.

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