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March 24, 2008

Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy Response to OSU Aromatherapy Study

Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt responds in detail to the OSU Aromatherapy Study at the Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy site (scroll down the page to find the article entitled "Aromatherapy Won't Make You Well, Study Shows or creating sensations by omission"). He distinguishes three aspects of the paper: The factual paper itself; the popular rendition in the press release as reprinted "ad nauseam"; and thirdly the issues

that can be raised about the purpose and meaning of a recent trend, in which studies like the one discussed here aggressively prove the lack of efficacy of natural remedies. In recent times a number of well financed and immaculately organized studies have reported that the efficacy of various important phyto pharmacons does not exceed that of placebo. Plant medicines demoted in this fashion include St Johnswort, Echinacea, Saw Palmetto and Black Cohosh and soon probably also Gingko. Publication of the negative results generally appear in high level medical journals and spawn endless repetitions in scientific journals as well as the mainstream press generating the impression that somehow all the inherited wisdom about plant medicine is a figment of the imagination, unfit to perform under scientific scrutiny. The aspect entirely omitted from this discussion is that the methodology of the studies is entirely unsuitable to demonstrate the efficacy of neither the whole therapeutic approach of phytotherapy (or for that matter aromatherapy) nor that of a selected plant extract.

Dr. Schnaubelt points out some of the shortcomings of the study and that the parameters studied "do . . . not truly relate to suggestions the aromatherapy literature makes about these two oils."

He takes on the Science Daily rewrite (which, as we have pointed out here, is actually an almost verbatim copy of the OSU Press Release) with pithy analysis closing with "If cultural critics were to look for a perfect example of rampant scientism, here is one!"

He then goes into a detailed discussion of the definition of Aromatherapy, the rejection of plant medicine by the pharmacological industry, and goes on to suggest that liver detoxification enzymes evolved as a response to the need for mammals to process out the essential oils in new plants they are eating.

It is ironic that plants are the native substrates having triggered the evolution of this enzyme system, which also removes the vast majority of all synthetic drugs. In todays medical literature this very enzyme system is generally referred to as drug metabolizing (!) enzymes creating the impression that somehow the removal of the synthetic drug is a feature that comes with its purchase.

This article is well worth reading and deserves a large audience.  It's too bad we can't get it as widely exposed as the OSU press release that stimulated it.

Posted by Rob on March 24, 2008 in Aromatherapy, Essential Oils/Plant Extractions, OSU Aromatherapy Study, Research | Permalink


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