Pioneers of Aromatherapy
A brief summary of the 20th Century pioneers contributions to the profession:
Rene Maurice Gattefosse (1881-1950)
Rene-Maurice Gattefosse was a chemist who discovered the benefits of essential oils quite literally by accident when, in July 1910, he was involved in a laboratory accident when he badly burnt his hands and turned to lavender oil; he was amazed at the speed with which lavender healed the burn, and how it reduced the pain and scarring that he had anticipated. It was Gattefosse who created the word "Aromatherapie", using it as a title for his book in 1928. Gattefosse believed that the power of essential oils not only restored the body but could also have a beneficial healing effect on the mind. What he discovered was that essential oils applied to the skin can be absorbed into the blood stream, where they may interact with the body’s own chemistry. Ahead of his time, he held the view that the oils were more efficient and safer to use when ‘complete’, rather than when extracted and used as isolated chemicals – the latter being more suitable for use in a pharmaceutical setting.
Dr Jean Valnet (1920-1995)
During the Indo-China war (1948-1959), a French army surgical assistant (Dr Jean Valnet) ran out of conventional antiseptic medical supplies so began using essential oils to treat wounds and gangrene. He found them to be far more effective at reducing infection than the usual methods of that time, i.e. using carbolic acid, which inflicted terrible burns on the patients. After the war, when he had formally qualified as a surgeon, Dr Valnet continued to use essential oils in clinical practice and was the first to use them successfully in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. In 1964 he published a book of his findings called, “The Practice of Aromatherapy” which was finally translated and published in English in 1980. Valnet’s approach involved selecting essential oils on the basis of their active constituents and relating the functional groups within essential oils to their potential therapeutic properties. The book mainly focusses on using essential oils as a substitute for pharmaceutical remedies, recording some impressive results.
Marguerite Maury (1895-1968)
Marguerite Maury was a biochemist and cosmetologist. It is she who is credited with bringing aromatherapy to England in the 1960s, adding to it the dimension of lymphatic drainage massage. In the 1940/50s, as a former student of Gattefosse she began her own pioneering research into the therapeutic and cosmetic uses of essential oils. Maury believed that beauty came from a person’s inner vitality and health. She studied the healing traditions of Tibet, India and China, and combining her understanding with holistic principles, together with an intuition about essential oils, she began to develop individual essential oil blends for each of her clients which were based on their own constitution and systemic imbalances. In addition, she also advocated the use of essential oils as psychotherapeutic substances, capable of bringing about changes in mood and introduced the practice of aromatherapy massage, emphasising the importance of applying essential oils externally and diluted in vegetable oil.
Micheline Arcier HMIFA (1923 - 2006)
The late Madam Micheline Arcier met Marguerite Maury at a beauty therapy conference in 1959, leading to her lifelong devotion to aromatherapy. She trained with both Maurguerite Maury and Dr Jean Valnet. Madam Arcier studied plant remedies, medicine and psychology before opening her famous Knightsbridge shop in 1981, and pioneering the practice of aromatherapy in the UK. She was one of the first training establishments accredited by the International Federation of Aromatherapists which was formed in 1985.
Daniele Ryman HMIFA
Daniele Ryman was a second assistant to Marguerite Maury. After the death of Marguerite Maury, Daniele continued her work. She has written many books on the subject of aromatherapy. In the early 1980’s she was the first to research and develop a range of natural products and treatments, to help passengers and airline crew members combat the effects of jetlag and travel fatigue. Programmes and products were introduced to 15 of her airline clients, including British Airways for whom Daniele is the Wellbeing in the Air Expert, as featured on BA’s in-flight entertainment programming.
Robert Tisserand HMIFA
The work of Valnet and Gattefosse stimulated and influenced Robert Tisserand, an Englishman, who started practising as a therapist in 1969. He founded a company to market aromatherapy products in 1974 and then in 1977 wrote the very first English aromatherapy book entitled “The Art of Aromatherapy”. This book became a reference for future authors for almost two decades. A further seminal book followed called “Essential Oil Safety – A Guide for Health Care Professionals”. In addition, he also a founder and honrary member of the International Federation of Aromatherapists. For 12 years he also ran his own training school (The Tisserand Institute) in London until 2006. Today, he lives in California and is one of only two recipients of the Alliance of International Aromatherapists Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr. Daniel Pénoël
A world renowned medical Aromatherapy expert, Dr Daniel Penoel is one of the pioneers of the therapeutic uses of essential oils, the cornerstone of his practice since 1977. He is highly respected in the medical world through his rigorous approach to teaching and clinical work. He continues to research and author books on the applications of essential oils in medical and holistic settings. As a medical adviser he is regularly invited to lecture at major International Institutions and Conferences. He is the founder of Medical Aromatherapy and has taught across Europe, USA, Australia, Japan and Canada for over 15 years. Dr Penoel is also the founder of Quantum Aromatherapy a brand new concept which revolutionises the understanding and use of aromatherapy.
Pierre Franchome HMIFA (& IFA Specialist Advisor)
Pierre Franchome is a lecturer, aromatherapist and pharmacologist who founded the International School of Aromatherapy in France. He is the Director of the Medical and Aromatic Plant Research Centre and has been a specialist in essential oils for more than 35 years. . He is responsible for inventing the concept of the energy of essential oils, and the fundamental notion of different "chemotypes " in therapeutic aromatherapy. Part of his body of work has been the discovery of the therapeutic uses of many essential oils including tea tree.