Essential Oil Heritage: Rene-Maurice Gattefosse and Aromatherapy

Essential Oil Heritage: Rene-Maurice Gattefosse and Aromatherapy

Rene-Maurice Gattefosse (1881-1950) was born into one of France's most important chemical and perfumery families. His father, Louis, founded the Gattefosse Group in Saint-Remy de Provence in the south of France in 1880. R. Gattefosse's keen scientific mind led him to study chemistry, and he excelled in developing perfumes and scents.

Gattefosse joined with a large group of scientists in 1907 to investigate and publish studies on the properties of aromatic substances.

Researchers had long concluded that essential oils had [great potential]. Doctors Chamberland, Cadeac, and Meunier published their research in the Annales de l'Institut Pasteur in 1880 and 1881.

What set Gattefosse apart from other essential oil researchers was his vision. Robert Tisserand wrote: “Not one of his predecessors, during the thousand years since the invention of distillation, had seen that the therapeutic application of essential oils constituted a discipline in its own right.”1

Today, aromacologists and essential oil devotees owe the existence of the very word “aromatherapy” to this dedicated French chemist, for he is the one who coined this term.

Gattefosse's understanding of the therapeutic value of essential oils came first and foremost at his own experimentation. […] He knew the healing power of lavender and [often] resorted to this jack-of-all-trades essential oil. […]

And what better healer is there than the plants of Mother Nature? Gattefosse wrote that from time immemorial, “Aromatic plants have always been considered the most effective treatment for the diseases afflicting mankind. In many cases, the essential oil is used, which is evidence that the volatile part is the most effective.” 3
[…]

Gattefosse developed the idea that essential oils had psychological effects and that an interplay between different oils resulted in a powerful synergy. Anyone who has used Gary Young's essential oil blends Thieves®, Purification®, or Aroma Siez™ can agree wholeheartedly!

As the father of aromatherapy, Gattefosse wrote of his beloved essential oils: “[they possess] undeniable healing power and extensive therapeutic properties.”5

Rene-Maurice Gattefosse advanced the new science of aromatherapy and opened the door for thousands of peer-reviewed studies of these marvelous oils.

References:

  • 1. Rene-Maurice Gattefosse. Gattefosse’s Aromatherapy. Ed. Robert B. Tisserand. Saffron Walden, England: C.W. Daniel Company, 1995.
  • 2. Ibid 87.
  • 3. Ibid 32.
  • 4. ibid 83-84.
  • 5. Ibid. xii.

Reprinted with permission of Young Living, Lehi, UT 84043

content in brackets removed or edited by Diana Kelley to comply with FDA regulations