Good scents – the aromatic journey of Dr Bo Hendgen, founder and CEO of trusted multi-award-winning therapeutic essential oil brand Absolute Essential

Dr Bo Hendgen knew how to make a cough medicine before she could read or write.

Growing up in France, her grandmothers dragged her through the forest picking herbs as a child. And while she didn’t realise it at the time, these important life skills were to set her on the path to helping others – not just medically and mentally, but by changing the lives of producers globally.

For the past 35 years, Hendgen and her team at Absolute Essential have produced professional prescription blends of pure, certified organic essential oils and carriers from the best of the world’s medicinal plant harvests, and for the past 22 years the company HQ has been based in Muriwai.

Over that time she’s travelled extensively, meeting suppliers face-to-face, working directly with them to ensure the organic or wild-grown ingredients she sources are making a positive and permanent difference in people’s lives from producer to consumer all the way through the lifecycle of the product.

Her lifelong passion for therapeutic essential oils began when she studied aromatic medicine with a doctor in France.

A subsequent trip to Africa to see where Frankincense came from in 1982 was a life-changing experience and a catalyst.

She was horrified to discover that while Frankincense essential oil was having an incredible effect on people’s health in the Western world, it created nothing but poverty and corruption at the source. “I came away from that thinking that there must be a different way,” Hendgen says.

Fast forward to today, Absolute Essential works with raw ingredients suppliers in 36 countries including Somalia, Sri Lanka, India, Bulgaria and Nepal, where it’s invested in distilling equipment and educates them on how to use it correctly and efficiently, to produce the best quality oils.

Absolute Essential also ensure the growing communities keep around 10 per cent of the product for their own use and are educated on ways to use it for maximum health benefits.

This approach has seen the company win multiple awards for ethics and sustainability including the Most Mindful of Transparency award – Best of Natural Awards 2022.

A doctor of osteopathy as well as a naturopathic physician, Hendgen has more than 38 years of hands-on, clinical experience, specialising in paediatrics and maternity care.

When she began practising in New Zealand it was logical to draw on her tool kit of essential oils but discovered quality therapeutic oils were not readily available here. What began as a quest to provide therapeutic oils for her clients, grew into a business as demand soared. “Only four per cent of essential oils worldwide are produced with a therapeutic intent,” she explains. “Ninety-six per cent are produced for the flavour and fragrance industry. These are fine for shampoos but for them to have an effect on your wellbeing you’re going to need something which works.”

Both have different extraction methods. The latter are extracted hot and fast in around 15 minutes at high temperatures as opposed to therapeutic oils which are low and slow, extracted over an 8-to-12-hour period at a constant 80-110°C heat.

“It’s all about the size of the molecules,” says Hendgen. “If the molecules are small enough, which happens with a low and slow extraction, when inhaled they make contact with olfactory cells and influence your mood and emotions.”

The correct use of therapeutic essential oils can have a powerful and positive impact on day-to-day living. In Hendgen’s opinion, Absolute Essential’s Vitality oil’s energy-producing effect is better than drinking a cup of coffee. You get the pick-me-up without the caffeine. “Plants have health-boosting phytohormones and our nervous system can recognise them as nature-identical hormone endocrine influencers. It’s the only medicine you can apply directly to the brain.”

An aromatic day

Integrate the health benefits of organic Absolute Essential oils into your day.

Morning shower: Wake up mind and body with the refreshing scent of Vitality. Following your morning wash routine, add 5-10 drops of Vitality to a wet facecloth and rub all over your body (avoiding sensitive areas).

During breakfast: Add 5-10 drops of Vitality into your diffuser.

Commute time: Add 1-2 drops of Stress Less pure essential oil blend to your wrists’ pulse points. This will calm and give you a sense of composure.

At the office: Both Vitality and Stress Less pure essential oil blends are very effective in an office diffuser, creating a positive mood and uplifting environment as well as killing airborne bugs.

Projects: If you need extreme focus, good memory and crystal-clear clarity of mind, add 5 drops of Brain Power to your diffuser or simply a tissue and keep it in your personal space. Refresh as needed.

Presentations: In moments where you need to feel confident about yourself, a job interview or meeting, use 1-2 drops of Confidence pure essential oil blend on your pulse points of the wrists. This will elevate your mindset about what is possible. Repeat every time you present. The brain works on association, so every time you smell the formulation you will remember the feeling of success and it will grow your confidence.

Home time: Place your diffuser at home on a timer to start 15 minutes prior to arriving home. Add 10 drops of a calm energy pure blend like Tranquility or Harmony. This will create a separation of work and home.


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