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The History of Aromatherapy

Author: Ixchel Leigh April 6, 2020

What Really is Aromatherapy?
Origins of a word

For most people any scented product is aromatherapy. I don’t agree! Now that this is out of the way, I’m going to tell you about the original intentions of aromatherapy.

In the early 1900’s René Maurice Gattefosse, a French chemist, badly burned his hand in his laboratory. He quickly submerged his hand in a vat close to him, which was filled with essential oil distilled from the plant Lavandula augustifolia, (Lavender). He was surprised at how quickly the burn healed!

During World War I, Gattefosse was attending to soldiers on the frontlines in Europe when suddenly medical supplies were not available. He did what a conscientious doctor would do, he sent for his plants and tinctures from home. Gattefosse found the LAVENDER Essential Oil healed severe burns on the soldier’s bodies in less time, and with less scaring than the allopathic medicines being used at the time.

The French term Aromatherapie was first used in 1928. Originated by René Maurice Gattefosse, now called the Grandfather of Aromatherapy, it describes the therapeutic actions of aromatic plant essences. After WWI, his research continued with other essential oils as he also delved into their psychotherapeutic benefits.

So Aromatherapy really is the therapeutic use of the oils from plants and botanicals (NOT nature-identical scents created in a manmade laboratory) for healing and wellbeing on many levels.

Aromatherapy was once portrayed as a joke in movies when someone lit a so-called aromatherapy candle. Today True Aromatherapy, as practiced in France, Germany, England, and several other countries, is an ever-growing healing modality.


Inhalation – Aromatherapy’s Effectiveness

Inhalation is the primary avenue of use for aromatherapy. Inhaling the scent of essential oils is as simple as opening a bottle of therapeutic-grade essential oil and sniffing. To scent the environment, you can use a small diffuser (sends the scent molecules into a fine mist into the air). An easier version is to make your own mister. Place 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (preferably liquefied) into a 4-ounce/120 ml glass bottle with mister cap. Add 20 drops of preferred essential oil/s. Shake and spray the environment!

One of the best-known reasons for the effectiveness of inhalation is due to the Limbic System in our human brain. The Limbic System is where all emotions and memories are stored. It is also where smells are registered. So you smell something (anything, yes even a synthetic scent) and it triggers an emotion or memory in you! The Limbic System also registers other functions: behavior, long-term memory, and motivation. Thus our sense of smell has powerful effects on our lives.

Thousands of years ago, when we all lived in the wilds and in small villages, our sense of smell was vital to our survival: hunting prey, forewarning danger, and recognizing rancid food. We’ve lost much of this sense due to the lack of needing it for survival. Welcome to Aromatherapy, a magical world of modern science and ancient healing practices.