Acces Boutique

Short history of the aromatherapy

The aromatherapy is almost always associated to the phytotherapy and
many specialists use the term of phyto-aromatherapy.

Until XVIth century, the history of medicine is basically the history of the art of healing through plants of the antic civilizations ( the word is derived from the Greek words “phyton”, for plant, and “therapeuein”, to cure ).
Even if we are able to attest the use of distillation and extraction methods in China or India, we consider Egypt as the original country of the distillation process.
In Greece, Dioscoride mention the use of aromatic oils. The Romans use the active ingredients taken from plants as plant butters and oils, extracts, powders.
The legend consider the Arab alchemist Jabir Ibn Hayyan as the inventor of the distillation still at Xth century. Thereafter, the plant extraction process slowly improves and after XVIth ceintury, it is used in the daily life, in the form of concoctions, infusions or poultices.
The first classification of the active principles of the odoriferous molecules comes at XIXth ceintury and allows their specific use.

In 1910, the French chemist René Maurice Gattefossé, when researching new parfumes, had serious accident after an explosion in his laboratory where his hands were badly burnt.

Considering the methods used at the time, his injuries soon deteriorated and become gangrenous. The legend says that after taking away his bandages, he decided as a last hope to apply fine lavender essential oil to his injuries. The results were stupefying and confirmed what he already knew: fine lavender essential oil had real antiseptic and healing properties. Since then, an important part of his research work was dedicated to the study of the benefits and the use of essential oils.

René Maurice Gattefossée introduced the use of the word “aromatherapy” in the everyday life (from the Latin word “aroma” and the Greek word “therapeia”: healing through the use of essential oils or essences).
During the 60, Dr Jean Valnet followed the path open by Gattefossé and published different reference studies in this domain.

Dr Jean Valnet and René Maurice Gattefossé are considered to be the pioneers of the modern aromatherapy. Their work was continued and developed by Pierre Franchomme, who defined the notion of chemotype and contributed to the improvement of the quality of the extracts.

At the end of XXth century, the aromatherapy is rapidly developing due to the new methods of analyses like the chromatography. The precise distinction between the different aroma compounds allows a better understanding of their medicinal properties and therefore, a more specific prescription for medical applications or other purposes.

The essential oils are very expensive and precious substances. But they are often adulterated by inferior materials : adjunction of other, less good quality oils or synthetic products, much cheaper. The conservation of essential oils is very important because they deteriorate when exposed to sun, high temperature or oxygen. Find the purest essential oils produced in a traditional way and certify their high quality on a case by case basis is everyday work that needs a lot of know-how and experience. In France, like in the most European countries, the marketing and the distribution of essential oils and the practice of the aromatherapy are not precisely defined as a legal obligation. Therefore, it is very important to work with direct producers and specialists in aromatherapy in order to guarantee the effectiveness and the quality of the essential oils.

Route de Gordes - D2 - 84220 Coustellet
tél. +33 (0)4 90 76 91 23