Martin Watt

Since the age of 15 I was in the print trade as a printer on a wide variety of presses and in various locations, finally becoming a sales office manager.

For many years prior to formal training below, I had been deeply involved in growing, processing and using a wide variety of herbs. I was a member of a University tree club where lectures from experts were given, as well as practical studies in the countryside. I conducted surveys of flora around the area that I lived and contributed this information to the County conservation organisation. I also grew and gathered herb and wild plant seeds and contributed those to a seed bank.

After giving up with the print trade, I studied a part time course on herbal medicine. Then progressed to three and a half years of full time training. From that I qualified as a Medical Herbalist(Cert phyt) in 1986.

The study included among others:
The medical sciences including tuition from doctors.
Botanical sciences.
Herbal materia medica, herb processing and pharmacology.
Clinical training in 3 clinics. 

Also in 1986 qualified as a masseur.

Following herbal training, I specialised in aromatherapy and essential oils. The trade in essential oils and their chemistry was learnt while working for an essential oils importer and analyst. During that time, many trade contacts were established, and a good inside knowledge of the essential oils and aromatherapy trade.

Years were devoted to investigating knowledge about plant medicines buried in various reference libraries. Finding scientific literature on the uses and safety issues of essential oils has been a major preoccupation. This was used to produce trade reference manuals and training materials.

I was the first in the aromatherapy trade to investigate in any depth the great importance of skin reactions to essential oils and to publish that information. Earlier aromatherapy authors treated the subject superficially, or tended to concentrate on toxicity issues. My publication 'Plant aromatics' was on the market for 18 years until 2010, and sold copies around the word.

My particular interest has always been in finding scientific research that supports ancient healing knowledge, or rejecting traditional knowledge when this is proven inaccurate. That rejection of unsound knowledge has often bought me into clashes with those teaching it as fact which has been common within the aromatherapy world.

All the above equipped me with an ability to judge the value or relevance of information (sorting the wheat from the chaff).

I was advisor on essential oils and aromatherapy to the ex Institute of Complementary Medicine - UK.

I was an advisor on Education to the International Aromatherapists and Tutors Association in Canada.

In the past I taught aromatherapy classes in the USA, Canada and Korea, as well as provided private tuition courses.

Several challenging articles of mine have been published in a number of aromatherapy publications and on the Internet.

Compiled referenced research data suitable for medical professionals. Gave advice on treating leg ulcers, bed sores and infected cellulitis to a hospital in Scotland. This included various oils and techniques for treating these problems.

Provided assistance and advice to a few aromatherapy authors and vetted training course materials.

Advised companies on product development, and on issues of legislation on the sale of botanical preparations.

Co-authored the book Frankincense and Myrrh with Wanda Sellar. Now only available from booksellers as an ebook.

Known for not accepting the hype in the aromatherapy trade. I do not support most aromatherapy trade organisations. These organisations are ultimately responsible for allowing a tremendous amount of poor quality education on aromatherapy to continue. They also have provided platforms for some very dishonest individuals and trading practices. I was well known on the old newsgroups for fighting the purveyors of hype and misinformation. Detested by the many con artists in this trade, and respected by a few caring therapists. That's good enough for me.

I detest everything about the commercial spying of facebook, twitter, google and social media sites and so do not participate in the way people are exploited on those platforms.Social media type sites have produced an explosion in the sales of dangerous and fake essential oils; dishonest suppliers lying about the quality of their oils, and untrained people giving poor and very dangerous medical advice.

This site has undergone a revision with over 100 articles compiled into a handful of files which should make it easier for archiving.

Extra info below, some may be duplicated from the above.

Aroma therapists may wonder what bought me as a Herbalist to conduct the research into essential oils culminating in 'Plant Aromatics safety manual'; other publications and the correspondence course. My interest in plant oils grew during my 3 and a half years full time training to become a qualified Herbalist between 1983 and late 86.

Having a very inquiring mind and doubting the accuracy of some of what I was being taught, I decided to investigate sources of research literature on medicinal and culinary plant extracts for myself.

Whilst doing this research I discovered that many Herbal tinctures which it was claimed "contained the active constituents of the whole plant", were severely lacking in the plants volatile components. This was because the alcohol used to extract some plants was not strong enough to ensure full extraction of the oil. So I thought, "why not add back to the tincture some essential oil from the same herb"? Unfortunately, about the same time, I found out that many essential oils on the market were adulterated with chemicals, so this inhibited my idea to improve some tinctures.

During my literature searches, I was pleased to find that a huge amount of data on herbs and oils of major importance to natural medicine was available in the major reference libraries. This research often confirmed traditional uses of the plants concerned. Conventional medicine supporters frequently state "there is little research done on natural remedies ", this is just not true. Huge amounts of research have been carried out on plant extracts by the food industry for flavours and preservatives; by the perfumery and cosmetics trades and even by the pharmaceutical trade for starting materials in chemical processes. It would seem it rarely enters the minds of science researchers that it is in these trades where a lot of good information on natural medicinal substances is to be found. They conveniently forget that "food is medicine" and "some medicines are food".

During 1986 I qualified in massage and started using essential oils externally and found they could produce great psychological effects as well as being ideal for local treatments for muscle and skin problems.

During this time I got to know the late Bernie of Butterbur and Sage who was a bibliophile. He agreed to sell me some of his collection of old pharmacopoeia and therapeutics books from about 1850 onwards. These books contain invaluable information on the uses and good research on essential oils. Around the early 1900s there were good opportunities for medical researchers to observe the effects of essential oils on humans. They used essential and fixed oils for a wide spectrum of medical problems because they had no antibiotics to treat serious conditions.

In 1989 I got to know Clive Bendon of Aromatic Essences (UK). His expert knowledge of the composition and sources of essential oils was invaluable. Due to his knowledge of the essential oils, perfumery and cosmetics trades, he knew what was likely to have been done to alter an oils chemistry. Using his analytical equipment he could determine the exact composition of oils and of course detect any adulteration. I learnt a lot about the commercial trade in essential oils, their sources and what traders bought and from whom. It also led me to realise that using Latin names of the plants used to produce essential oils is fairly meaningless.

In the early 1990s it was discovered that I would need an operation on my right wrist, involving a 2-year wait. During that period I would receive disability benefit being incapable of manual work. This provided a reliable income and an opportunity to pursue some intensive research in the UK science reference libraries. Despite all that research, and the volume of literature I assembled, it is clear only the surface has been scratched of what is available.

Following on from the publication of 'Plant Aromatics' I started to be invited to give lectures and classes for aromatherapists and others. This led to lecture tours in the USA, Canada, Korea and of course in the UK. I was deeply involved in providing advice and appropriate analysed oils to nurses in Scotland for treating infected leg ulcers and infected Cellulitis with impressive results.

I have done my best over the years to try and inject some truth into this trade by using reliable information. This has been done without any substantial financial support; my publications were aimed at a limited market and so only covered their production costs. If it wasn't for the harm some suppliers such as the multi level marketers cause to the reputation of natural medicine, I would have bowed out years ago, but I was determined to do what I can to protect the public's access to natural remedies and I am convinced this can only be achieved by using accurate research data.

Finally a piece of advice that I give to all students particularly of complementary medicine. Don't just believe everything you are taught, use your own mind, check important things yourself and always ask: Do my teachers know what they are talking about? Where did they learn this? Did the people the teachers learnt from know what they were talking about? Frequently in aromatherapy the answer is NO!