What is that smell?

Ever have a room in your house you didn’t know what to do with? I did. But recently, I decided to fix up that room, which is known as a “bonus room,” even though having it did not feel like a bonus. I decided my bonus room should be an uncluttered, peaceful space for writing, reading and meditating.

Uncluttered didn’t work out according to plan, but peaceful and quiet are still good descriptors.  Among the items I moved there were my collection of essential oils purchased in another era and the aromatherapy diffuser. When heated, the oils soothe, comfort and cover up the odor of the cat’s litter box, which is also in that room.

What a surprise when I opened up the October 9 issue of The New Yorker and found out that essential oils are big business. “Something In The Air” is the name of the article and it’s a good read.

You can buy these oils, or sell them and possibly make a bundle of money. The article says the current annual incomes of people selling these products range from $1 to $1 million. The latter record must belong to those who got warmed up in an earlier life selling Amway, Mary Kaye or Tupperware.

I’m taking a slight birdwalk here to talk about a personal Amway experience. Years ago, in Guanajuato, Mexico, an acquaintance asked me to talk to her Amway crew.  She had a group of women –her sales force ?– she met with regularly and wanted me to give them a pep talk… in Spanish. Within hours I found myself in front of a large group having planned nothing to say in English much less Spanish.  I stumbled for a few minutes and realized I didn’t even know what Amway was. As soon as it was clear to the women that I had nothing inspirational to say and I could barely communicate on this topic, they started looking at their watches and filing their nails. My friend looked crestfallen and I felt mortified .

But back to essential oils. The founder of one prominent oil company (not to be confused with Exxon or Shell), a naturopath who earned his “doctorate degree from an unlicensed school,” was once charged with practicing medicine without a license and was seen on video “performing gallbladder surgery and giving essential oils intravenously.” But we’re safe. He only does this in other countries.n

The health promises of different oils are beyond good or even great.  Healthy digestion? Simple. Reduced anxiety? sure. Regenerated cells? Of course. conquering autism? Why not? Cure cancer? You bet. And much more.

Frankincense and rose oil are among the most costly ones. A single barrel of the latter, per one wholesaler, “is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.” He keeps the rose oil, an ounce of which takes more than a million petals to create, under lock and key.

After reading the article, I rushed upstairs to read the labels on my oil bottles. I found geranium, sandalwood, honeysuckle, applewood, clary sage and bergamot — the anchors of my collection — which the article did not mention once. I did find something called Rose Absolute, which at the price I paid for it, probably required ten petals in its production.

Needless to say, even if I had the right stuff, it hasn’t been properly stored, cold-pressed, or grown organically, so I cannot sell it on eBay for an outrageously expensive sum. The one thing I can promise to any potential buyers, is that it is a great remedy for litter box odors.





About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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3 Responses to What is that smell?

  1. This is so funny—with a great conclusion! I’ve used these oils and, apart from the pleasant aroma, found them dubious in effectiveness. Oh well, there are plenty of charlatans out there—take your pick!

  2. dkzody says:

    I use essential oils for various things. Tea tree oil works well on bug bites. Geranium oil, rubbed into my hip, helps with sciatica flares. I have a mix I use to keep bugs away while working outside. Lavender is wonderful at bedtime for calming.

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