A major historical shift began in the 19th century when new developments in chemistry increased the sophistication and understanding of distillation methods. These advances led René Gattefossé (1881–1950), a French chemist and perfumist, to begin a more rigorous study of essential oils in research and practice. In fact, Gattefossé is credited as the first to coin the phrase “aromatherapy.” Medical doctors in France (and other areas around Europe) dispensed essential oils in their practice and to this day receive some training in medical school regarding their safety.
The modern view of aromatherapy is evolving at a rapid pace as more research is being done on essential oils and their constituents. As technology continues to advance, extraction methods are improving and the many benefits of plant derivatives are becoming better understood. Traditional methods have certainly provided an excellent historical framework; however, much research is still needed to fully understand the massive potential of essential oils in managing wellness.