History of Aromatherapy
Essential Oils are...
Highly concentrated volatile fragrant liquid essences - not actually oils at all, extracted from various parts of a variety of plants:
Flowers, blossoms, leaves, seeds, fruit, berries, needles, bark, twigs, grass, roots…
Usually the oils are extracted from the plant by the steam distillation process. Citrus fruit being cold pressed and delicate blossoms obtained by solvent extraction aren't strictly speaking essential oils.
Each essential oil contains a unique, complex composition of approximately 300 to 500 different chemical constituents, giving them their particular therapeutic value.
The name given by French perfumery chemist, Rene Maurice Gattefosse in the 1920's.
He discovered the healing benefit of lavender when he applied it to his burnt hand - It healed rapidly and without scarring.
Researching other essential oils he determined they were more effective in their whole state rather than an isolated component or active ingredient of the plant or of any synthetic replication of it.
More about that here Rene Maurice Gattefosse
Often referred to as the "life force" of plants, essential oils are the “active ingredient” in our formulas.
Come to find out that aromatics in one form or another were being used as far back as
3,500 BC - in Egypt, China, India, Greece and by the Romans.
These more modern day pioneers began bringing aromatherapy out of the dark ages and, in various ways into our lives today:
translated Gattefosse's book into English in 1993.
In 1977 he wrote the first of his own books, The Art of Aromatherapy, bringing awareness to this art and science. And the Essential Oil Safety - setting safety standards for using essential oils.
More about Robert Tisserand here
Dr. Jean Valnet a medical doctor and surgeon during WWII successfully treated and healed both physical and emotional conditions with essential oils.
More about Dr. Jean Valnet here.
Madame Margurite Maury an Austrian biochemist opened the first aromatherapy clinics in France, Britain and Switzerland.
Her approach to “treating” her patients was to consider all aspects of their life, taking into account their emotional as well as physical states before creating blends for them.
Her book Guide to Aromatherapy was published in English in 1964
More about Margurite Maury here.
The aromatherapy bandwagon…
The next wave in popularity came again around the 1990’s when aromatherapy became quite the buzz word.
The recognition for the benefits of aromatherapy as a healing art became diminished and even negated as aromatherapy became popularized and overly commercialized …
You couldn’t get away from it! Essential oils found their way into just about everything you bought, household cleaning products, candles, soaps, creams… you name it. It was the latest and greatest, the be all and end all to just about everything.
Still, being commonly associated with mood and emotion aromatherapy was being offered along with spa and beauty treatments.
The next wave of popularity and commercialism is for another time. I will say though that there is no such thing as a “therapeutic grade” essential oil. The name was “manufactured” along with the products produced.
Thankfully, there are many more now who are passionately involved in research and education of safely growing, manufacturing and safe applications, contraindications or precautions of using essential oils.
Hopefully the general public as well as those on the “essential oil bandwagon'“ will take the time to educate themselves…