Study Abroad: Aromatherapy in Indonesia May 2013

Feb 28, 2013 9:06:00 AM | indonesia Study Abroad: Aromatherapy in Indonesia May 2013

Exploring the Indonesian Herbal Tradition – Jamu By Dorene Petersen What inspired ACHS President Dorene Petersen to put together the study a

Exploring the Indonesian Herbal Tradition – Jamu

By Dorene Petersen

What inspired ACHS President Dorene Petersen to put together the study abroad program this May? Read more below! Click here to receive detailed information about the trip in May 2013. If you have questions, feel free to email Dorene at

Bali Stone Statues

Last May, I was invited to speak at the Asian Aroma Ingredients Congress & Expo on the beautiful Indonesian island of Bali. This biannual conference brings together producers, processors, exporters, scientists, and educators (like me!) to discuss essential oils, essential oil products, and the future of the industry. At this conference there were more than 300 participants from 17 countries!

My lecture, “U.S. Trends in Aromatherapy,” focused on an overview of the use of Indonesian/Asian essential oils in the aromatherapy market in the U.S. To collect my data, I surveyed key communicators within the U.S. aromatherapy industry, including members of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists, National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy, and Registered Aromatherapists with the Aromatherapy Registration Council.

The results of the survey were interesting and confirmed my feeling that U.S. Aromatherapists have a high awareness of important factors that influence therapeutic viability of oils, such as organic production. What the research also revealed was the Indonesian essential oil industry can have a significant impact on the professional clinical and retail aromatherapy markets in the U.S. if there is marketing and educational outreach focusing on new and emerging oils. I was delighted to learn that organic patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) is the Indonesian essential oil with the highest retail sales  in the U.S. I love the warm, spicy aroma that lingers as patchouli fades out, but I know not everyone feels the same: particularly if you are a baby boomer like me. Truthfully, I had expected the most commonly used Indonesian oil to be clove (Syzygium aromaticum) bud.

Free eBook: Holiday Gifts

You can read more about the trends in Indonesian essential oil use in my white paper here. 

For those of you who have been to Bali, you already know it is a beautiful island, rich in culture, lush color, and very warm people. It is a part of Indonesia, a country with a long tradition of herbal medicine use. This traditional plant heritage struck me from day one. You don’t see street vendors offering herbal medicines here in the States, and you’re not likely to get a recommendation from the locals to use cajuput (Melaleuca leucadendron) essential oil with insect bites either.

Cajeput leaves 2 resized 600

Cajeput leaves in Indonesia. Photograph by Dorene Petersen

In Indonesia, the ancient art of herbal healing is part of the everyday culture. It’s called Jamu, which promotes inner and outer health and beauty through the use of herbal powders, ointments, lotions, massage, and ancient folklore. A dose of Bali belly provided a great opportunity to experiment with the locals’ recommendations, which included rubbing my belly with neat cajeput oil and ingesting one drop of patchouli oil. I did both and within 24 hours was feeling almost back to normal.

 Patchouli aged 2 resized 600

Different grades of Patchouli oil in Indonesia 2012. Photograph by Dorene Petersen

What struck me most was the easy coexistence of the two approaches: Western medicine and traditional herbal medicine used hand in hand with encouragement, cooperation, and assistance from the Indonesian government. Health and healing  accessible to all was clearly the focus. Now back in the States, this is a powerful reminder and motivator for me to keep doing what we do here at ACHS: provide research- based accredited programs empowering student success in the holistic health and wellness arena. Experiencing Jamu showed me how much can be achieved when all sectors of the healthcare industry cooperate towards a common goal. And whether or not you have the opportunity to travel to Bali yourself, Jamu shows us all that health and wellness is a cultural and a community affair, and that we have the knowledge, the tools, the herbs at our fingertips. So, spread the education and wellness!

Free eBook: Holiday Gifts

If you’re interested in learning more about Jamu, I’ve put together an Indonesian aroma study tour for May 2013, including a tour of botanical gardens and distilleries, day trips to remote villages to learn about local, green medicine, and several cultural landmarks. I hope you can make the trip with me! Click here to receive detailed information about the trip in May 2013 and if you have questions, feel free to email me at

Dorene Petersen, ACHS Founding President

Written By: Dorene Petersen, ACHS Founding President

Dorene is the Founding President of the American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS). She has over 45 years of clinical teaching and lecturing experience in aromatherapy and other holistic health subjects. She has presented papers on essential oils and clinical aromatherapy at the International Federation of Essential Oils and Aroma Trades Annual Conference (IFEAT) in California, USA; the Aroma Environment Association of Japan (AEAJ) in Tokyo, Japan; the Asian Aroma Ingredients Congress (AAIC) and Expo in Bali, Indonesia; the International Center of Advanced Aromatherapy (ICAA) at the WonGwang Digital University in Seoul, Korea; as well as the AAIC Expo in Kunming, Yunnan, China. Dorene is a founding member of the Aromatherapy Registration Council (ARC) and served as its chair until 2023. Dorene is also involved in the distance education community and has served as a volunteer, committee member, and standards evaluator for the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). Dorene is a travel junkie, and has led ACHS Study Abroad programs to India, Indonesia, Greece, and Hawaii!