A Whistle Stop Tour of Botanica 2018

We are so delighted to share a Guest Blog Post from Essential Oils Consultant Laura Hoy about an incredible Herbs & Clinical Aromatherapy conference in Brighton, Botanica 2018.

Let’s dive straight in and find out what Laura’s takeaways were from this three day event:

Botanica Map


Last weekend I had the absolute privilege of attending the 3 day conference celebrating Herbs & Clinical Aromatherapy at the University of Sussex in our hometown of Brighton.

With over 400 people attending from 49 countries across the world from Syria to Tasmania there was a wealth of knowledge and experience shared. It’s impossible to encompass what was presented by 30 different speakers including scientists, medical researchers, distillers and practitioners so I’m going to give a sprinkle of the experience to give you a taste of what was offered.

The conference is organised biannually by Rhiannon Lewis who works in the field of clinical aromatherapy and as an educator. She pulled this event to fruition with support from many hands bringing a cocktail of people in the profession together to support and grow the community.

My first job was to set up a stand with my essential oils on show among another 30 exhibitors from copper still makers to herbal cocktail makers.

A Herbal Walk

With the help of my assistant I completed this task in time to attend one of the preconference herb walks around the grounds of the university. I chose the Cosmetic Herbal Walk with Vivienne Campbell The herbal hub who revealed how similar a Daisy (bellis perennis) is to Arnica, I will never take this little flower for granted again and am eager to make a maceration with it. I’m also looking forward to harvesting Cleavers (aka Sticky Willy) which apparently makes an effective natural deodorant.

Botanica 2018

Credit Lucinda Warner whisperingearth.co.uk


The opening speaker Holly Bellebuono asked ‘What is Healing’ and one of her memorable sharings was a quote from Hippocrates:

 ‘wherever the art of medicine is loved there is also a love of humanity

 – this made my skin tingle, even more so when Holly talked about elders passing on their wisdom to younger generations and asked each of us to be a role model to others/another in our life, calling us to appreciate what we bring and to be responsible in sharing our talents.


Danny O’Rawe also brought philosophy into his discussion on the topic of evidence based medicine and its limitations. He took us on a historical journey telling how we ended up with a culture of measuring medicine. An appropriate Latin phrase he shared ‘Quis custodiet ipsos custodes’ from Roman times translating as Who guards the guards? Or Who watches the watchmen… it reveals to me that we still face the problems of the past today and I wonder if we ignore our modern comforts, have we really moved forward at all?


A range of artisan hydrosol distillers from around the world were sponsored to travel to the conference to share their life of growing plants and the art of distilling them… Most were family run including The Indus Valley Rose Sustainability Project and Morning Myst Botanics. Hearing their intimate stories, understanding the hard work and commitment needed, along with inevitable difficulties harvesting a product without use of chemicals, made for a deep appreciation of the precious products that we have the pleasure of using.


Saturday took a more educational approach:

Jason Hawrelak discussed using herbal medicines to modify the microbiota. Something that really stood out in his talk was how some essential oils could actually wipe out beneficial microbes in the microbiota, Oregano is one of these, which rings true since it is a powerful anti-microbial and we are aware that a dose of antibiotics can wipe out our ‘good’ bacteria so why not essential oils that have strong anti-bacterial actions? In the last few years I’ve had plenty of people enquire about using oregano essential oil to take internally for digestive issues, so it could be doing more damage than intended. I’ll just take this opportunity to state that essential oils have the power to heal and the capacity to harm, they should not be used neat on the skin due to their potency and should certainly not be taken internally without professional advice, click here to find out more at Essential Oils and You.



Frankincense update – Zahra Osman Guelle informed us of the facts about frankincense and myrrh sustainability in her homeland of Somaliland, exposing how large corporations attempted to control all of the farmers, the demand and media around this topic. A chilling reminder of how important it is to know the source of your product, whatever that may be and to investigate beyond a Google search or newspaper article. I had the pleasure of meeting frankincense and myrrh suppliers at the last Botanica conference who I now use as my suppliers and have the pleasure of knowing the whole journey of their business and end product.

Click here to go to  Essentialoilsandyou.co.uk frankincense



One person that really touched the hearts of everyone in the audience was Marika Fleri from Malta, a lady that opened her heart and life story to all and shared how the first Botanica back in 2012 inspired her to be where she is now – Coordinator and executive secretary of The National Cancer Platform Association, as appointed by the president of Malta. Her passion probably brought a tear to more than a few eyes and her reminder that we all have the power to change the world ‘drop by drop’ was a grand reminder of how important each of our parts to play are.


A presentation of particular interest to me was on how smell training can help with post viral anosmia (loss of smell). Considering smell is such an underrated human sense and is intrinsically linked to taste, it was valuable to gain awareness of how debilitating it can be for people and that it is often linked to depression with very little support for sufferers. Apparently it is possible for olfactory nerves to regenerate and stimulation can encourage new cells to grow. For more information on this go to: www.smelltraining.co.uk 


Joseph B rose


Another of the highlights of the weekend was the evening movie special (accompanied by herbal flavoured popcorn) of the film ‘Uncommon Scents’: a documentary shining a light on the profound ways essential oils and aromatics are being used around the world, it opens up the conversation on some of the issues arising from this growing industry. Check out the website for a sneak peak of this film in the making.  https://www.uncommonscentsmovie.com


This was just a few drops of what I learnt at the fourth conference, the next Botanica will be in 2 years’ time and in another city yet to be decided… so I’d recommend to keep your nose out for details and to save up for an invaluable experience.


Post Botanica Garden Tour

After the conference attendees from around the world had the opportunity to tour gardens of England, since these are all on our doorstep I wanted to share them in case you have yet to discover them:

Royal Botanic Gardens Wakehurst – https://www.kew.org/wakehurst

Great Dixter House and Gardens – https://www.greatdixter.co.uk

The Garden Museum – https://gardenmuseum.org.uk/the-museum/

Chelsea Physic Garden – https://www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk


If you are interested in finding out more about any of the topics covered in this article please contact Laura directly laura@essentialoilsandyou.co.ukLaura Hoy

Laura Hoy is an Essential Oil Consultant who will begin offering massage and aromatherapy sessions at Brighton & Hove Therapies from next month. If you would like to book in please go to email her at laura@essentialoilsandyou.co.uk

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