From the words itself, aroma therapy seems to be a bit misleading, you might have a perception that it is all about scents or smells, but I can promise you it is more than smells!
“Aromatherapy” is a words coined by a French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé in 1930s where he treated his badly burned hand with lavender essential oil during an laboratory explosion. The healing effect is amazing and with very little scarring.
Although the words coined only during 1930s, but when we study the history of aromatherapy, the use of aromatic plants is very much older. I couldn’t find any books clearly defined what aromatherapy is, and I also have difficulty in finding the reason behind Gattefossé use this word. His book Gattefossé’s aromatherapy: the first book on aromatherapy, did not give me any direct answer on my questions. But I found that his study is mostly related to the odour and properties of essential oils and perfume.
Balchin also pointed out that the definition of the term “aromatherapy” is quite confusing. I have gathered some of the definition provided by some famous author of aromatherapist, I hope it will give you a good hint of what aromatherapy is.
Robert Tisserand written:
“Aromatherapy can be defined as the diligent use of essential oils to promote or improve human health, hygiene and wellbeing.”
As for Jeanne Rose:
“I view aromatherapy as a branch of herbalism, and learning when use of the herb is preferable to use of the essential oil as an important aspect of aromatherapy training.”
“The controlled use of essential oils in a positive way to maintain good health and revitalize the body, mind and spirit.”
For me aromatherapy is an art and science of utilizing essential oil to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and soul.
Tisserand R (2011), Gattefossé’s burn, http://roberttisserand.com/2011/04/gattefosses-burn/
Maria Lis-Balchin (2006), Aromatherapy Science: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals, Pharmaceutical Press.