May 14, 2013

AGORA moves to a new index site

AGORA is the Aromatherapy Global Online Research Archive. It was formed in 1998 by a group of aromatherapists who wrote articles about aromatherapy and essential oils, and was hosted at a number of different websites, including,, and others, with an index to all the articles hosted on a now dead site: (no, don’t try to go there because it is not there now).

Sometime in the middle of the last decade, the owner of the index, Suki, lost control of the index site when its host was sold and she moved to a new ISP. But mysteriously, the index continued to function and had about 2,000 entries in a Google search. It still gets 651 hits.

I was the original technical administrator of the site, although the individual host site owners did their own local administration. Over the years, as the original authors left the world of aromatherapy, many of the articles needed updating, link maintenance, and upkeep. I eventually contacted Suki to see if we could update the index page. That was when I discovered that no one had access to it. I knew that eventually it would disappear, so I captured a copy of the index and several other pages on that site to my computer. When the site died, I decided to set up a new index site. This took me some time as many other pages had to be recovered from the Web using the Wayback Machine and reformatted  and moved to the new site. I actually accomplished that about a year ago, but have been too busy to actually get it publicized and correct the site links in to it that will help build it back up as a viable site. I realized last week that the aromaconnection blog’s link to AGORA had never been updated.  That has now been done. So here are the links to the new site.

The new AGORA Index site is at which takes you to an introductory page.  The actual Index page is

There is also a twitter feed @AGORAAroma where I occasionally post links to the AGORA site.

Please check out the site, link to the index page, and tweet about it. that will help improve its SEO ratings and get more people visiting it.

Posted by Rob on May 14, 2013 in Aromatherapy, Essential Oils/Plant Extractions, Oil Crops, Safety/Toxicity, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 09, 2009

We’re now on Facebook and Twitter

the aromaconnection blog is now on Facebook and Twitter. If you are set up for either of these Web 2.0 Social Networking tools, you can now support the blog and get updates whenever a new post is made.

To follow us on Twitter, search for aromaconnection, or you can go to our page from the linkbar on the right sidebar of this blog.  Just scroll down until you find Our Twitter Feed and click on Follow us on Twitter. When you get to our Twitter page, click on Follow to follow us. You’ll get an update whenever a new post is made, or you can see the previous posts, each listed with a link to the page.

On facebook search for “the aromaconnection blog” Group.  We currently have 28 members. We have a Discussion Board with the current topic “Blogroll” where I have put out a call for suggestions for sites to be added to our blogroll and Links List. If you have any suggestions, you can respond there. You will need to be a facebook member to be able to participate, but it’s easy to join. One warning if you are not already a member—it can be addicting.

I haven’t figured out how to get automatic blog updates on facebook yet, but I think there is a way.

Posted by Rob on February 9, 2009 in Notes and News, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 26, 2009

Cropwatch Newsletter Jan 2009 Published

The most recent Cropwatch Newsletter Jan 2009 [pdf] has been sent to subscribers and posted on the Cropwatch website. There is also an html format post elsewhere on the web, and several of the articles in it were previously posted on this blog, so we won’t do more than summarize it.

The Newsletter starts out with an Editorial on the theme 2008: A Bad Year for Natural Aromatic Ingredients.  A Good Year for Industry Consultants and Ingredient Clerks, in which Tony discusses the REACH Process, Corporate Influence over IFRA and its affect on the use of Natural Products, and the effects of increasing market demand for natural ingredients on the sustainability of the natural environment.

The articles included in the Newsletter are:

1. The REACH Pre-registration Exercise – an Autopsy
2. Sandalwood – A Critical View of Developments
3. IFRA Gives Up Supporting Two More Natural Aromatics:
Opoponax & Styrax Next for the Chop
4. Frankincense – A Brief Catch-Up
5. The Art of Natural Perfumery: Under Threat from Natural &
Organic Cosmetic Certifying Organisations?
6. The Oakmoss & Treemoss Saga – Slight Return
7. GM Fragrance Anyone? – Hopefully No Takers
8. IFRA Workshop - Allergy Prevalence in Fragrance, November
4, 2008, Brussels, Belgium
9. More on Ylang-ylang oil

Articles 2, 3 and 4 are updated and slightly expanded from articles previously published on this blog. Click on the number for links to the posts here: 2 3 4 however you may want to read the PDF version to get the latest information.

Article 5 on the Art of Natural Perfumery is a detailed analysis and response to the various attempts by various organizations to develop Organic and Natural Standards to control the ingredients used. This topic has been previously discussed on this blog; you can find the articles filed under the category Standards. Tony takes several of the standards to task and closes his article with:

We could review proposals from other organisations, but we think you get the idea ….. both natural & organic cosmetics are a long way from living up to the promise of their descriptions. The lack of common sense is also worrying – for example, banning added synthetics such as UV filters (one thing that Cropwatch would allow) which as well as increasing the shelf-life of the product, arguably
help protect against the risk of solar/UV-induced skin cancer. This ban, taken with other considerations, means that evolving versions of natural & organic cosmetics may be in danger of becoming considerably less safe than conventional cosmetics.

Regarding natural fragrances, it can be guessed that many of us who have been involved in the teaching, promotion & development of the art of Natural Perfumery over the past several years may be getting a bit hot under the collar when whole classes of raw natural aromatic ingredients are suddenly declared “not natural” by the self-proclaimed officials of certifying organisations, who don’t appear have experience across all the areas they are proposing to regulate. The exclusion of concretes, absolutes & resinoids from an inventory of natural aromatics for fragrances intended for natural cosmetics may well pander to the more chemophobic amongst cosmetics customers. But the banning of petrochemical solvents cannot be justified on health grounds relating to supposedly harmful amounts of solvent residues that remain in these materials – since there is no health risk. We should also mention that there is a move to allow solvent extraction in the form of allowing CO2 extracts and bio-ethanol. The protagonists of these proposals do not make clear how they are going to determine whether the CO2 used in such processes is natural (i.e. produced by fermentation of natural materials etc.), or how they will propose to police the matter. Cropwatch’s guess is that (a) they haven’t thought about it and (b) they can’t guarantee it (thanks to Daniel Joulain for bringing this to our attention). The
proposed allowable use of bio-ethanol is welcome, but does not substitute for the elimination of other solvents.

We can clearly see that attempts by these certifying organisations to redefine natural cosmetics, and natural cosmetic/aromatic ingredients clearly bow to the business interests of the major international cosmetic companies and their customers, who are the potential cash-cows that these organisations are trying to milk. The multinational’s interests in the natural personal care sector has been plain enough for all to see – L’Oréal bought out The Body Shop, Estée Lauder did the same with Aveda & Clarins took over Kibio, just to mention three. That doesn’t mean to say that those of us working with natural products now have to dance to a tune played by the big corporates, or the organisations that suck up to them. We feel that many of the above-cited proposals & guidelines will be rejected by those purists who have been involved with natural perfumery to its
present point. You probably do not need Cropwatch to tell you that many experienced older perfumers have been found surplus to requirements lately by some of the Aroma Giants, probably because they are too expensive compared with younger perfumers. Many of these more experienced professionals are now working independently, making a living by creating natural perfumes. It is
unlikely, we feel, that this group will accept many of the definitions currently proposed by these Natural & Organic Cosmetic Certifying Organisations, and hopefully this group will become a growing influence in this area, for better values, independent of big industry’s requirements.

The Oakmoss/Treemoss article updates an article in this blog several months ago and announces that a detailed review of the lichens is planned for publication in Flavour and Fragrance Journal by mid-February 2009.

The GM Fragrance article discusses the progress? made in the floral products industry to increase the fragrance of flowers through GMO manipulation and the possibility that this will be a back door entry into the aromatics industry in spite of public opposition (especially in the EU) to Genetic Modification. The article contains several references and additional reading.

Brief comments on the IFRA workshop on Allergy Prevalence in Fragrance suggest a possible out for IFRA on the current over-regulation of the European cosmetics industry with a report that

sensitization to fragrance ingredients has decreased considerably over the years, and for some weak allergens, the rate of incidence is now so low that several thousands of subjects now need to be tested
to obtain one genuinely positive result.

The Ylang Ylang article is an update and correction to comments made in the previous Cropwatch Newsletter (Sept 2008) having to do with coniferyl benzoate in (or not in) ylang-ylang oil. Tony goes on to clarify the current status of the Ylang market.

All in all, a useful and interesting issue. Recommended reading for a variety of topics and interests.

Posted by Rob on January 26, 2009 in Ecological/Cultural Sustainability, Essential Oils/Plant Extractions, Oil Crops, Perfumery, Safety/Toxicity, Standards, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 15, 2008

Aromaconnection Nominated for Best Fragrance Blog

We've been nominated (along with a bunch of other blogs) for Best Perfume Blog for 2008, sponsored by Fragrantica, a new Perfume and Cologne magazine. If you're inclined to vote for us (or vote for some of the other nominated blogs) you can click on the logo in the upper right corner of the screen to go to the nomination page. Voting extends through December 22, which is coming up soon! We've also added Fragrantica to our Site Links.

Posted by Rob on December 15, 2008 in Perfumery, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 04, 2008

Aromatics in Print

This is a new series that will review aromatics information found in the print media. When possible a web link will be provided. Items that have broader information available may stimulate a full blog post as a followup.

  • Plants and People: Society for Economic Botany Newsletter, Volume 22, Fall 2008 announced a meeting held in Vietnam November 1-4, 2008: Cultivated Agarwood in Vietnam: A Guided Field Tour of Successful Agarwood Production in the Mekong Delta.  The seminar was organized by Seven Mountain Co. and presenters were Robert Blanchette, University of Minnesota, and Henry Heuveling van Beek.  For more information about Cultivated Agarwood (Aquilaria crassna) see this link. Plants and People is posted online in PDF format. We've blogged about agarwood in Vietnam earlier.
  • This issue also included (p 15) a list of "Recent Publications on Medicinal Plants from India."
  • The Herb Companion (January 2009) reviews the book: The Unlikely Lavender Queen by Jeannie Ralston, which is available at
  • Herb Companion also has a short piece on home distillation of "Herbal Waters" and suggests that the distillation process destroys the antioxidant properties of the herbs distilled. They cite an article from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 55:8436-8443, "Antioxidant Activity and Phenolic Composition of Lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia Emeric ex Loiseleur) Waste (Abstract available but they still charge for the article).
  • Herb Companion discusses and links to the new International Standard for Sustainable Wild Collection of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (ISSC-MAP) which, in my understanding, is still a work in progress. They also link to a newly formed Fairwild Foundation which will have responsibility for final implementation and the quality of the standard.
  • The December issue of perfumer&flavorist leads off with and editorial: "Everyone's a Critic: Are Fragrance Bloggers and Critics Good for the Industry?" Jeb Gleason-Allured, the Editor concludes that "yes, fragrance criticism and bloggers are ultimately good for the industry. A lively and devoted discourse is the lifeblood of any art form, and fragrance has for too long been ignored. . ."
  • In the same issue of p&f, there are a number of articles addressing the subject of naturals in the Fragrance industry: "(Not) Lost in Translation", p. 41; a sidebar on p. 42 on "the Challenge of Organics and Natural Material Sourcing"; "Defining 'Natural'" [a discussion of the Natural Products Association's Seal] on pp 44-46; "Natural Stories: Ylang-ylang" pp 47-51. There is also a review of a recent talk by New York Times scent critic Chandler Burr on "The Future of Naturals in Perfumery", p. 20. The editorial direction of P&F seems to be moving in the direction of accepting and using Natural products, probably under the Editorship of the (relatively) young Jeb Gleason-Allured, and Natural Products Editor Brian Lawrence.
  • The November 2008 issue of the AARP Bulletin has a piece in its Health Section (p. 26) entitled "The Scent of Roses for Rosy Dreams." It references a study done in Germany in which researchers administered the scent of roses, rotten eggs, or an unscented control to 15 women after they entered REM sleep. When awakened one minute later, they reported their dreams. The rose resulted in dreams with a positive emotional tone, while the rotten eggs produced the opposite. A more detailed report on the study is online in Health News.

Posted by Rob on December 4, 2008 in Aromatics in Print, Book/Movie Reviews, Oil Crops, Perfumery, Research, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 22, 2008

Notes and News

  • Organic Monitor reports that there is an increase in the acreage of organic citrus groves in Florida. They focus on juice, but this should lead to better availability of organic citrus oils. 
  • The C.A.M. Report has resurrected the Lavender/Tea Tree Gynecomastia issue again, by reposting an old post from 2007 without updating it to include information about challenges to the original research. 
  • In the same post the C.A.M. report mentioned (without citation) a report that in 2005 essential oils were linked to 7,282 reports to poison control centers. UPDATE: JR forwarded the citation in a comment. He reported on this in the C.A.M. Report here. The article cited was here. The original source (PDF) of the data was the 2005 report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
  • A new blog on food and local agriculture has been added to our Agriculture Horticulture link roll: La Vida Locavore.  Worth checking out if you like food.

Posted by Rob on July 22, 2008 in Essential Oils/Plant Extractions, Lavender/Tea Tree/Gynecomastia, Notes and News, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 12, 2008

Organic/Natural Standards to be Discussed at Upcoming Meeting

The big players in the Beauty Products World are gathering together in New York later this week at "The Natural Beauty Summit" to "create a forum to learn and discuss the key challenges the cosmetics industry faces in the areas of natural and organic products as well as sustainability" . . . or so says the program for the conference, to be held at the Hilton Hotel in New York City May 15-17. This is a followon to a similar summit in Paris last November, to be followed by a sequel, again in Paris, in October 2008.

Sponsored by Organic Monitor and Beyond Beauty Paris, the main focus of this conference will be Natural Cosmetics with a major session on Standard & Regulatory Issues followed by a panel discussion, and the next day a Natural Cosmetics Workshop focusing on "an assessment of the growing number of standards and certifications for natural and organic cosmetics . . . [with] a critical review of the major standards, comparing and contrasting the similarities and differences between them."

The list of standards and proposed standards that will be covered at the session is:

  • A Retail products standard proposed by Whole Foods
  • the USDA National Organic Program Standard applied to Cosmetics
  • the American NSF Standard
  • the OASIS Standard
  • A review of European natural and organic standards harmonization

The aromaconnection blog will be following these issues closely as they develop.  Notably missing from the above list is the NPA (Natural Products Association) standard we blogged about yesterday and last month. We are working on a table showing details of the standards and comparing their features.  In fact, we are probably duplicating what may show up in the proceedings of the NBS (if there are any), but we hope to get it into print sooner.

Organic Monitor, one of the co-sponsors of the NBS, predicts that 2008 will be the beginning of "an industry shake-up" as various standards are unveiled in Europe and North America. In this linked article, they reference several standards that are not included on the list above. They also express concern about fragmentation that could lead to a reduction of trade, but express also the "more optimistic view" that Cosmetics might follow the lead of the textile industry and develop a harmonized global standard.

In the meantime the infighting has already begun. OCA and Dr. Bronner's have challenged what they call "weak" ECOCERT and OASIS standards, according to this OCA Press Release widely reported in the media mid-March. And as we reported yesterday, the C.A.M. Report is somewhat skeptical of the whole idea.

We can probably look forward to an exciting year!

Posted by Rob on May 12, 2008 in Marketing, Organizations, Politics, Regulatory Issues, Standards, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 17, 2008

aromatisches Blog - Aromatics Blog

Das aromatische Blog widmet sich den Düften und Wohlgerüchen – dem Parfüm. (The aromatic blog devoted to the scents and smells good - the perfume.)

I've added a new blog to our perfumery blogroll: aromatisches Blog. It's in German, but can be easily translated with Google or other translation software, although the translations are a bit awkward.

Recent posts have discussed Benzyl Acetate (a constituent of jasmine); the difference between Perfume and Cologne; The history of perfume in Greece and mythology; working with crystalline materials; aromatic patchouli; the Berlin Botanical Garden (with plant photos); ESTEBAN patchouli perfume; the history of perfume in the Bible; and some great paintings from 1922 demonstrating that Perfume alone . . . is often not enough . . . you need to have some water.

The blog has been active since July 2007. Note that this blog is not strictly natural perfumery.

Posted by Rob on April 17, 2008 in Perfumery, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 09, 2008

Aromatherapy Thymes Notable Launch, a website/blog for the magazine industry, has declared Aromatherapy Thymes magazine as one of the "30 Most Notable Launches of 2007."

There are many health and medicine magazines jockeying for a position on today’s newsstands, but few give readers the type of information that Aroma Therapy provides which is why it has made it on the list of top launches for 2007.

Mr. Magazine has interviewed Patricia Carol Brooks, the Editorial Director, about the process of creating the magazine. She found her two biggest challenges to be "maintaining the integrity of the essential oil trade through informative articles and staying in contact with essential oil distillers in the U.S and abroad and coordinating the distribution channels for our market." By 2011 she expects the magazine to be "recognized worldwide as a reliable reference for aromatherapy and a publication that brought the distilling, trade, sell and distribution of essential oils to forefront."

There were a total of 715 new magazines launched in 2007, so this actually a fairly significant honor.

The blog link for the interviews is here. (The link above is to their web page, which is slightly abridged.)

Posted by Rob on April 9, 2008 in Aromatherapy, Book/Movie Reviews, Notes and News, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 26, 2008

The kind of aromatherapy article we don't need

An article about aromatherapy and essential oils has been published on Mike Adams Natural News web site.  Entitled Raise Your Immunity Frequency With Essential Oils to Beat the Common Cold, the article appears to have been cobbled together from old Young Living web sites and brochures--a mixture of science and pseudoscience that could tarnish the reputation of the Natural News web site, which has risen quickly to an Alexa rank of under 50,000 since its inception in late January.

The electrical engineer in me (BSEE 1965) has struggled for years with the concept of frequency as applied to essential oils. I've read what Young Living web sites say (mostly derived from Gary Young's book Aromatherapy: The Essential Beginning), looked at Bruce Tainio's web site, and read a bunch of stuff about Royal Rife. Since most of these materials are written in general terms (using technical terms that may or may not be understood by the person quoting them), it's hard to figure out exactly what they mean. Tainio, on his web site, is obviously amused by what he sees as misuse of the concepts he developed

If you find information about the frequency meter or about Bruce's research that did not originate from us, or that is not included in this web site, it may or may not be entirely accurate. Please remember to take it with a grain of salt. We do!

At any rate, I am both amused and chagrined by the attempt to use the frequency theory to justify and explain essential oil use. Even if the theory is valid (there seems be a dearth of published research) the author doesn't do a very good job of proving her case.

From an introduction explaining about frequency, she cites some research showing that stress or negative attitudes increase the likelihood of getting a cold (probably true), detours into avoiding antibiotics because they don't control viruses (also true) and throws in a pastiche of facts about colds, and eventually arrives at a conclusion: Lo, essential oils have a high frequency and can be used to raise the body's frequency, thus making it healthy!

Citing in vitro studies done by Young Living staff that showed that essential oils have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, and French practices of internal use, she admits that "While this is an over-simplification of the serious medicinal aspects of aromatherapy, it is helpful, nevertheless, in demonstrating the effectiveness of therapeutic essential oils in the medical arena."

The article list several essential oils claimed to be effective against cold viruses, including oregano, thyme, fennel, juniper cinnamon, rosemary and clove. It isn't clear how the oils are to be taken, but internal use is implied by the wording. There are no safety warnings or even suggestions that the oils should be diluted or might be best dispensed by qualified practitioners. There is no direct link to Young Living as a supplier, but there is a link to the author's web site and from there a broken link to a YL site.

Certainly the world of aromatherapy would be better served by an article that is more in accord with confirmed scientific theories of aromatherapy and which provides precautions for use. I remember meeting a woman several years ago who had had a liver transplant because in her naive state she overdosed on herbs that destroyed her liver. The same thing can happen from high doses of conventional drugs or essential oils.

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Posted by Rob on March 26, 2008 in Aromatherapy, Essential Oils/Plant Extractions, Safety/Toxicity, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack