Aromatherapy Roots: Getting to know Rene-Maurice Gattefosse

Aromatherapy Roots: Getting to know Rene-Maurice Gattefosse

Interesting story about Rene-Maurice Gattefosse…many who have studied aromatherapy, have heard his name as a leading pioneer in forging the path in aromatherapy. As the legend goes, it has been said that he burned his hand and stuck it in a vath of lavender oil to heal it. Well, that is not actually true.

The Lavender Legend

I first learned about that legend when I started studying aromatherapy almost 20 years ago. I recently attended an aromatherapy conference and heard Gattefosse’s granddaughter and great-granddaughter share his life’s legacy. Turns out, on 7/25/1910, he actually was working in his lab (as a perfumer), when he was splashed with boiling incense from a flash that exploded and burst into flames. He then jumped through the window and rolled on the ground to put out the flames. His head and hands were badly burned with 1st degree burns. Contrary to belief, he did not have a vath of lavender by him.

He treated his wounds with an ointment and bandages. He began to get a fever and the wounds started to become gangrene. He remembered that the lavender growers told him that gangrene and the burns can be healed with lavender. So, he coated skin with his ointment & lavender. Two days later his fever and the infection eased. His burns also healed without a trace.

Lavender’s Healing Power

How powerful! Lavender helped with gangrene! This is more profound than even healing the burns. After this amazing experience, Gattefosse was determined to share these benefits with the medical world as they were proven to have effective results. He continued studying about the properties and other benefits of essential oils. He conducted several experiments in military & civilian hospitals. Essential oils were shown to be effective during emergency surgery.

Gattefosse Legacy

Gattefosse not only paved the way for aromatherapy to shine in addressing health care needs, he created important blends, such as Salvol, the first aromatic antiseptic. He also documented important aromatic benefits, created bridges with the medical & scientific community, and helped so many with various health needs.

Gattefosse’s family started the Gattefosse Foundation as a way to continue Rene-Maurice’s legacy and support clinical aromatherapy in health care facilities.

As you can see, you are among incredible company when it comes to aromatherapy. It is important to honor those who came before you, know your aromatherapy ancestry and embrace the depths of those roots.

At the JennScents Aromaversity, that is our commitment…to honor past legacies, practice safely & effectively today, and to continue to strengthen the path for future generations of aromatherapist.


Source: Sophie Gattefosse Moyrand & Segolene Moyrand-Gros, Botanica Aromatherapy Conference 2020

Photo credit: Gattefosse Foundation 

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