Traditional aromatherapy in the clinical context of a therapeutic community for the treatment of substance use disorders


  • Antoine Renard SACRe doctoral program, Paris Sciences et Lettres University. Address: 60 Rue Mazarine, Paris, France
  • Giorgia Tresca L’Alberoteca, Nucleo Basso 17, 6954 Sala Capriasca, Switzerland
  • Luigi Menghini Department of Pharmacy, University “G. d’Annunzio” of Chieti-Pescara. Address: Via dei Vestini, 31 Chieti, Italy
  • Rebecca Lazarou Laz Wellbeing Ltd, London, United Kingdom. Address: 4Heddon Court, Cockfosters Road, Barnet, United Kingdom, EN4 0DE
  • Gary Saucedo Rojas Center for Drug Addiction Treatment and Research on Traditional Medicines - Takiwasi, Tarapoto, Peru. Address: Prolongación Alerta 466, Tarapoto, Peru
  • Fabio Friso Center for Drug Addiction Treatment and Research on Traditional Medicines - Takiwasi, Tarapoto, Peru. Address: Prolongación Alerta 466, Tarapoto, Peru
  • Matteo Politi Center for Drug Addiction Treatment and Research on Traditional Medicines - Takiwasi, Tarapoto, Peru. Address: Prolongación Alerta 466, Tarapoto, Peru



Perfumeros, aromatic plants, traditional Amazonian medicine, ritual


Western medicine and psychotherapy have historically overlooked the potential of engaging the sense of smell for therapeutic purposes. However, in other medical traditions, such as that of the Peruvian Amazon, specific therapeutic interventions based on the use of aromatic plants are commonly performed in conjunction with other healing modalities. Traditional specialized healers locally known as perfumeros conduct such healing sessions. This research describes how this kind of traditional Amazonian aromatherapy is used in the context of Takiwasi center, a therapeutic community specialized in the treatment of substance use disorders. Participant observation was carried out by shadowing the healers in charge of specific aromatherapy sessions including the so-called plant baths, sahumerio, and saunas. Additionally, semi structured interviews were conducted with several members of Takiwasi’s therapeutic staff, and non-peer reviewed publications and audio-video materials present in the Takiwasi archive were consulted and used as original data for this research. Data on users that received a plant bath from July 2019 to February 2021, were also acquired and discussed. The cosmology beyond this kind of traditional aromatherapy includes concepts such as “energetic body” and “spiritual entities”, opening the discussion on something beyond the mere materialistic aspect of aromatic chemistry and pharmacology.


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How to Cite

Renard, A., Tresca, G., Menghini, L. ., Lazarou, R. ., Saucedo Rojas, G. ., Friso, F., & Politi, M. (2022). Traditional aromatherapy in the clinical context of a therapeutic community for the treatment of substance use disorders. Journal of Medicinal Herbs and Ethnomedicine, 8, 21–28.




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