Essential Oils and History of Medicine

It was back in the 80s that the ancient craft of aromatherapy resurfaced as a modern form of alternative healing in Western society. But it wasn’t taken very seriously at first.

Despite some very genuine healing practices, it rode into public awareness in the UK via some intuitive but not particularly qualified individuals during a wave of ‘new-age’ hippy culture. Many people were sceptical and saw essential oils as not much more than a fragrant accessory to massage.

And then later, especially in the US, essential oils were high-jacked as the must-have ingredient for mass-marketed domestic products. Probably, essential oils have been seen in the best light in quality perfumery and cosmetics (an equally ancient art that took hold in France in the 1900s, separately from aromatic medicine).

This might have something to do with the fact that cosmetic-grade essential oils maintain a standard of quality control that wasn’t visible for aromatherapy in those early days. And, probably also due to the limited understanding of olfaction that has only relatively recently, provided clear evidence that pure scent molecules are much more than just a nice smell.

But this is changing. Because all that fanfare was only one part of the picture.

Medicinal-grade essential oils have a potency that is 80-100% more than that of the original medicinal plants


That was when the perfumery chemist (Gattefosse) stuck his burnt hand in a vat of Lavender True and discovered instant pain relief and arrested burn development.

But actually, the seed had been sown already some 40 years earlier in the times of Louis Pasteur when research was confirming the antiseptic properties of certain Essential Oils.

By the time aromatherapy was the buzz word of the 90s, the clinical use of pure essential oils had quietly remained its own discipline to become an established tool of European medical practice.

When I did my training back in 1982 and later in the mid 1990s, with French MD Daniel Penoel, I gained an insight into the deepening scientific understanding of olfaction (smell) and learned about aromatherapy (aromatic medicine) as a serious medical proposition.

Dr Franchomme and Dr Penoel were one of a number of visionary professionals not intimidated by the less tangible area of aromatic healing, seeing far beyond the established anti-infectious properties that satisfied the more traditional European medics.

Organic molecular properties travel directly to our limbic system where our central emotional and physiological systems are regulated

Today, in the aftermath of the 90s boom and the following confusion of dubious associations, people are starting to notice the legacy of that original thread of clinical aromatherapy (Aromatic Medicine).

Pure, medicinal-grade essential oils offer a way to integrate with natural body systems that just isn’t possible with synthetic medicines. And currently their value for influencing natural relaxation and healthful balance is making its mark in traditional medical institutions around the world. This is significant not because medical science looks set to throw out all drugs in favor of natural essential oils, but because essential oils are helping to open up the world of allopathic medicine to a more holistic appreciation of patient health care.

People are the crucial ingredient in healthcare: nurture natural wellbeing and you have the best chance of a successful outcome

If you have a clinic or are involved in healthcare practice, you can easily start to benefit with a simple blend – one that will cleanse your working environment both physically & energetically. Invest in an Aromalight (tea-light) or Aromastone (plug-in) and diffuse 2-3 drops of each pure essential oil.

To create a calm, healing healthcare space:

Lavender True Oil
Geranium Rose Oil
Sandalwood Oil

Hospitals and clinics around the world are using clinical aromatherapy as an integral part of their medical practice

The Vanderbilt ER Center, in the USA, uses essential oils as the central focus of a staff wellness initiative. In a busy, high-stress environment, their study shows an almost 100% improvement on perceived stress levels, and an 85% accord among staff of a more positive working environment.

The National Health Service in the UK, has an active aromatherapy program on its maternity wards to promote natural birth and recovery.

At Memorial-Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, NY, they use essential oils to lower the anxiety levels during MRI scans.  In testing, 63% of patients exposed to the oils’ aroma experienced reduced anxiety.

And here are some other interesting links to give you an idea of how the field is opening up:

The effects of lavender scent on dental patient anxiety levels: a cluster randomised-controlled trial.

Peppermint Aromatherapy May Relieve Nausea

Black pepper essential oil to enhance intravenous catheter insertion in patients with poor vein visibility

The effects of clinical aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in the high risk postpartum woman

Validation of the anti-bacteremic efficacy of an essential oil rinse in a Brazilian population

Effect of sweet orange aroma on experimental anxiety in humans.


Medicinal-grade essential oils must be 100% pure. At Absolute Essential we use certified organic or wild grown (sustainable) plants to produce our oils and all extraction processes are strictly controlled to produce the best quality oil with a maximum purity and therapeutic value. www.absoluteessential.com