History of Aromatherapy

The Return of Aromatherapy

Today, perfume, food, medicine, and aromatherapy products are viewed as separate entities, although aromatherapy is slowly reclaiming its medicinal heritage. A French chemist, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, coined the term aromatherapie in 1928. His family were perfumers, but his interest in the therapeutic use of essential oils began when he severely burned his hand in a laboratory explosion. He deliberately plunged his hand into a nearby container of lavender oil to ease the pain, but was amazed at how quickly it healed. He wrote numerous books and papers on the chemistry of perfume and cosmetics. Around the same time another Frenchman, Albert Couvreur, published a book on the medicinal uses of essential oils.

A new wave of aromatherapist practitioners was inspired by this work, one of whom was Dr. Jean Valnet, who, while an army surgeon during World War II, used essential oils such as thyme, clove, lemon, and chamomile on wounds and burns. He later used essential oils to treat psychiatric problems. Marguerite Maury, a French biochemist, developed therapeutic methods for applying these oils to the skin as a massage, reintroducing an ancient method of aromatherapy to the modern world.

To learn more about Aromatherapy and other alternative medicines, see:

  • Aromatherapy: Here you will learn about aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.
  • Essential Oils Profiles: We have collected profiles of dozens of plants that are used to produce essential oils. On these pages, you will learn the properties and preparations for the most popular essential oils.
  • How to Treat Common Conditions With Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used to treat a number of conditions, from asthma to depression to skin problems. Here you will learn how to treat some common medical problems with aromatherapy.
  • Home Remedies: We have gathered over a hundred safe, time-tested home remedies for treating a wide variety of medical complaints yourself.
  • Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies and aromatherapy can be very similar, and they stem from similar historic roots. On this page, you will find all of our herb profiles and instructions for treating medical problems with herbal remedies.

Kathi Keville is director of the American Herb Association and editor of the American Herb Association Quarterly newsletter. A writer, photographer, consultant, and teacher specializing in aromatherapy and herbs for over 25 years, she has written several books, including Aromatherapy: The Complete Guide to the Healing Art and Pocket Guide to Aromatherapy, and has written over 150 articles for such magazines as New Age Journal, The Herb Companion, and New Herbal Remedies. This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.