14 May 2024

The Healing Power of Scent - book review and interview with herbalist Ellen Rowland

The Healing Power of Scent - book review and interview with herbalist Ellen Rowland

In her new book, The Healing Power of Scent, aromatherapist and author Ellen Rowland dives deep into the most mysterious and ephemeral of the five senses – scent – and explores how we can use our own unique responses to the smells we find in the world around us for spiritual and emotional healing.

We were delighted to catch up with her before the official launch of the book in June to hear about her inspirations and her journey into herbalism. 

1. Tell us about the inspiration behind your new book The Healing Power of Scent?

The Healing Power of Scent was inspired by a lifelong fascination with aromatic herbs. I remember as a child I used to mix up 'potions' with them! It wasn't until later that I discovered that aromatic herbs actually have a direct impact on our nervous system and can influence our hormones, creating mood changes and feelings of wellbeing. Now, I'm training as a Medical Herbalist and discovering even more about these amazing plants. It's not just their scent that has an impact - the volatile oils they contain have lots of amazing medicinal properties so when we add herbs to our diet we're adding medicine too. I wrote the book as a way to make the benefits of adding aromatic herbs into our lives more accessible. I noticed that there were not many books that focused on explaining that aromatherapy isn't just about wafting nice smells around whilst you're having a massage. It's so much more, it's a powerful way to connect with plants, ourselves and a sense of wellbeing.

2. Can you tell us a bit more about AmberLuna. We're especially interested to hear about the fact that it is a social enterprise offering community workshops.

AmberLuna Apothecary has been running since January 2020. Throughout my career to date I have worked in a number of socially and environmentally motivated organisations that support communities with their physical and mental health. I wanted a business model that could support my community and offer accessible wellbeing to a wider range of people rather than just those with more financial resources. By operating as a social enterprise, I am able to offer free and low cost therapies and workshops by to those who would be otherwise unable to access them. I do this through my corporate workshops and public events. I offer a sliding scale for some of my public workshops too.

3. You’re launching your new book at a fabulously scented event in Bristol in June. Please could you tell us a little more about the evening and what sensory delights await your visitors.

Yes, I am very excited about this! We have a gorgeous venue, Bristol Folk House Cafe and Bar, who are kindly hosting the event. There will be a chance to have a drink and mingle with like-minded herb-curious people, try a range of herbs, aromatherapy skincare, tinctures and teas from some of my favourite suppliers (including Sternberg's!) as well as interacting with the Aro-matic, a sensory, futuristic scent chord maker that plays your chosen aromatic herb combinations into your face so that you can experience your creations in real time. There will also be a chance to buy my book and have it signed. I'm really looking forward to meeting everyone and to talking about the magic of plant medicine.

4. What inspired your journey into herbalism and aromatherapy?

This is something I talk about a lot in the introduction of the book. But essentially I found my way to them through a series of challenges with mental health and undiagnosed ADHD. When I began working with herbs and aromatherapy whilst volunteering abroad, I felt a resounding sense of aliveness, curiosity and inspiration that pulled me further down this path.

5. Do you have any particular mentors or inspirational teachers?

So many! Over they years I have been lucky enough to work with some extremely inspiring people. From Elisa who ran the medicine centre where I volunteered in Guatemala to my Teachers Emma, Gabriel, Jo and Wendy that taught me during my Clinical Aromatherapist training, to my herbal teachers on my Medical Herbalism diploma, and my fellow students who I've met along the way, everyone has been inspiring in their own way. My former Managers at Kew Gardens, Alison, Julia and Helen were also very encouraging and supportive. Claire and Lizzie from David and Charles books have also been instrumental in getting the book and Kew online course over the line and being brilliant champions for me all the way.

6. Who would you most like to have dinner with and what would you cook for them?

This is a really difficult one. I think I'd love to go back in time to before the witch trials and invite all of the Wise Women and Herbalists, much of whose knowledge and skills have been lost due to the burning of supposed 'witches'. I think they'd have a lot to say, and we could learn a lot from them!

We're delighted to be supporting the launch event of Ellen Rowland's new book The Healing Power of Scent, taking place in Bristol on 13th June, by providing organic spice and tea samples. For more information and to book your free place, please do look at the event page on Ellen's website. 

Book Credit: David & Charles Books