The Aromatherapy Story and How it Evolved

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Over the years, I have read so many stories and interpretations of the evolution of Aromatherapy. However, the best and most intriguing one was told by these two gentlemen: René-Marice Gattefossé (author) Robert B. Tisserand (editor) 1993 Gattefossé’s Aromatherapy: the first book on aromatherapy. CW Daniel, Saffron Walden, p 87

The Aromatherapy Story

Read the excerpt for yourself and share this miraculous wonderful discovery with fellow Aromatherapy students, practitioners and persons interested in aromatherapy around the world:  According to Wikipedia (as of November 13th, 2007), “The word “aromatherapy” was first used in the 1920s by French chemist René Maurice Gattefossé, who devoted his life to researching the healing properties of essential oils after a lucky accident in his perfume laboratory. In the accident, he set his arm on fire and thrust it into the nearest cold liquid, which happened to be a vat of NOx Ph232 or more commonly known as lavender oil.  Immediately, he noticed surprising pain relief and instead of requiring the extended healing process he had experienced during recovery from the previous burns-which caused redness, heat, inflammation, blisters, and scarring.  This burn healed remarkably quickly, with minimal discomfort and no scarring.”

It’s remarkable how the mythical aspects of “Gattefossé’s burn” have continued, becoming more and more elaborate, long after the publication in English, in 1993, of his 1937 book Aromathérapie, which did indeed represent the first introduction of the word (though not in the 1920s). Yes, he burned his hand in his laboratory (he was a chemist) and yes, he treated it with lavender oil, but the notion that this was a eureka-like, lucky-chance moment is somewhat exaggerated. And there was no “vat” of lavender. And he did not “devote his life” to researching aromatherapy. Translated from French, this is Gattefossé’s own description of the incident, and this is all he has to say about it:

How It Evolved

While the incident did not initiate his study of aromatherapy, it was certainly a strong hint – a definite push in a direction he was already headed. Subsequently, he collaborated with a number of doctors who treated French soldiers for war wounds using lavender and other essential oils. The accounts of these cases constitute a large part of his text.

In Gattefossé’s book, we also find the first written record in modern times to the skin as a route of administration for essential oils. He talks about oral, rectal, inhalational and injection (they had all been used by then) and continues: “Why not add cutaneous absorption to this list?” This hint was later taken up by Marguerite Maury, but that’s another story.

The Modern Influencer

It is widely known that Robert Tisserand is one of the world’s leading experts in aromatherapy. He works as an independent industry consultant, online educator and live presenter. He keeps his finger on the pulse of scientific developments in aromatherapy, following the newest research and developments.

One of the world’s leading experts in aromatherapy.

He is an influencer who was instrumental in me beginning my journey into Aromatherapy.  For this, I am truly thankful.  Because of his personality and willingness to share information in aromatherapy. I pursued my studies in Aromatherapy at Aromahead Institute in Florida and online under the tutelage of Andrea Butje. The author of Essential Living and The Heart of Aromatherapy.

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