Absolute Essential founder Dr Bo Hendgen has long been interested in the power of nature and has over 35 years experience to back it up.
“Health is so essential that once compromised it has a measurable effect on everything else in life and we cannot buy it back.”
Passions are often discovered, but sometimes they are innate. The latter is true for Bo Hendgen,
a doctor of osteopathy, naturopathy and aromatic medicine.
Born in Germany, Bo grew up in a small countryside village on a self-sufficient farm. She also spent a lot of time in France, around Provence and Alsace, where her extended family lived and made wine.
“With two French grandmothers passionate about herbs, they dragged me through the forest once I could walk,” she says. “I would harvest different mushrooms, berries and herbs, make cough syrup, cheese and chop firewood. We produced most of the healthcare solutions for the family, which were completely natural.”
It was the norm for Bo to help others; there was never an “aha” moment. “It was always clear that I would be working in the health sector,” she says. As a young adult, Bo went on to work as a lackey for a doctor of aromatic medicine in France, which at the time was an accepted form of treatment. “I assisted in making creams, blends, prescriptions for suppositories, pessaries, pills and powders, all containing high standard medicinal quality essential oils that I had collected from local farmers,” Bo explains. “When I arrived in New Zealand in 1985, I could not find any essential oils close to a French therapeutic standard.”
After reaching out to producers in Europe, Africa and India, Bo started importing medicinal grade oils to use in her clinic. Over time she began selling to other professionals and subsequently founded her retail range Absolute Essential in 1988.
“Once you have essential oils in your life, they become part of your daily routine. They’re like best friends you can’t live without.”
The brand has now grown to become one of the only, certified organic company that sources sustainable, medicinal quality plant oils from over 50 artisan producers worldwide. Aromatherapy isn’t a word Bo tends to use, as it’s often associated with the fragrance and flavour industry that overheats and exploits oils. “We use the words therapeutic plant oils because this is what they really are,” she says. “It’s medicine you can apply directly to the brain.” By this she means that the tiny natural molecules that you smell and absorb via olfaction work on the part of the brain that meets the inner workings of the nose and can directly impact emotional, physical and mental processes or diffuse the oils for a reaction, unlike digesting a pill.
Each essential oil has a function that stems from its source. We know citronella keeps the bugs away and the scent of rose attracts bees, which go on to pollinate. “If we’re extracting [the plant hormones] gently enough, so that all the molecules are still active, they can act like this inside us too,” Bo explains. “Our bodies think it’s a hormone, so therefore it responds to it.”
Essential oils have the ability to play a significant role in women’s health on several levels. “Women are overwhelmed with more responsibility than ever: working full time, carrying then bringing up children, running the home and, all the while, there’s the pressure to look a million dollars,” Bo says. Feminine Balance Pure Blend is a popular choice among Absolute Essential customers for its hormone support. Another best seller is the Sweet Rose Pure Blend, bringing comfort and solace in times of stress. For Bo, it’s all about integrating essential oils into daily life. When it comes to the home for example, take care of primary health as a family, rather than relying on antibiotics for common issues like coughs, colds and fevers. Highly acclaimed for its production quality and sustainability practices,
Absolute Essential has long been a pioneer in the industry. The certified organic and vegan products are made in Muriwai, New Zealand from artisan ingredients sourced from around the world. From composting waste to using recycled packaging, the company’s ethos is a by-product of Bo’s staunch, eco-minded, organic health ethic. “Good health starts with our DNA.
So, parents, give your babies and children the best possible start with a healthy diet during pregnancy, then throughout childhood,” Bo says. “I think the earlier we make good choices, and consistently, it will pay dividends later in life.”
There’s a balance to be mastered, but it should always tip in favour of healthy options. “My philosophy when it comes to health has always been holistic,” Bo says. “Everything in moderation.” Bo describes her own regime as great 80 per cent of the time: she exercises five days a week, is pescatarian, enjoys being outdoors and meditates. But, like many of us, she also enjoys a glass of wine, a piece of cake and Italian food in good company. And that’s okay too