Many of you know that we are a ‘fragrance free’ clinic. 

But do you know why? 

We’ve published a blog on this before, courtesy of our Ehlers-Danlos Support Group Coordinator, Wendy. Read it here. 

  1. Jacquelyn (that’s me!) had to make a decision either to give up her job as an osteopath (what a waste!) or ask patients not to use perfume.
  2. Many of our patients are allergic to fragrances and the chemicals of odours in washing powder, moisturiser, hair product, perfume etc.
  3. Odours stimulate the limbic system and bring back memories. We attempt to create a space where this doesn’t happen – imagine if it was a negative memory? That’s exactly what we don’t want before your osteo appointment?

So why? 

This is twofold: 

The practitioner’s perspective:

I didn’t have the sensitivity and reactions to odours before I started. However …

After nearly 20 years of working with patients and having skin-to-skin contact, my body has rejected the chemical transfer. 

At the end of each day (for about the first 10 years), I’d have to scrub my arms and I could tell which patient’s fragrance was on each part of my arms and hands. Often I couldn’t get it off and I’d have to sleep with my hand as far away from my nose as I could.

Not relaxing or conducive to healthy sleep!

I got eczema from the scrubbing. Remember, I’d have to do this daily. 

It was like having a perfume shop at the airport poured over my body and inside my brain – daily. I think most of us agree that this is associated with the word overwhelm.

So, instead of giving up my profession, I asked our patients to come in ‘non-smelly’. Body odour is fine by the way – it’s not full of artificial chemicals!

From the patients’ perspective:

Imagine coming into a waiting room that has the combined smell of Persil (the strongest washing powder I know of!), perfume, hairspray and essential oils (yes these can be overwhelming too if combined and added together over the day)? This combined fragrance is so strong that it lingers from the morning to the afternoon and even with doors open, we cannot remove it. 

Imagine the waiting room full of flowers and diffusers and you have a headache?

Imagine you have a concussion and you’re struggling with odours and light? That’s many of our patients. 

Imagine you have a long term sensitivity and have an allergic reaction to the fragrance that results in nausea, vomiting, headache and migraine?

These are all true reactions that have happened to me or patients. 


I’m doing my lactation training and I’ve just finished my milk composition exam. One of the very clear messages was the importance of the baby smelling mother (not perfume!) in order to bond and I remember the line from my training ‘the baby would prefer to smell the mother’s body odour and old milk stains than the mother after a shower with fragrances’. This disrupts the mother-baby bond. That’s non-debatable in the lactation consultant training. See the article below for more. 

Our promise.

  1. As practitioners we do not wear products with fragrance.
  2. We have reminders on the emails to avoid fragrances.
  3. We don’t have flowers anymore – simply as some patients are allergic.

What if I’m not sensitive and I like wearing perfume and aftershave?

It’s an interesting one if you’re not sensitive.  I wasn’t either until I worked as an osteopath. 

Think of it like this.

For some people, it’s like you’re putting gluten into their mouth and pushing it down their digestive system – and they’re coeliac. It really is!

You may not understand it and that’s fine. Just know that the reaction can be the same… and last for days.

So here we are, finally some mainstream attention to the issue of ‘smells’! The following article is what inspired me to do another blog on this. 

I’m pretty sure that many of us can relate to holding the baby and smelling Aunty Joan’s ‘Eau de Cologne’ or Uncle Max’s Linx on their skin afterwards!

Thanks for listening!

ABC Everyday: Luke Tribe/StockAdobe