French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé (1881-1950) is credited with coining the term aromatherapy (aromatherapie): which is the therapeutic use of essential oils. His contribution to aromatherapy includes a personal story – burned in a laboratory accident, Gattefossé develops gas gangrene, a potentially deadly infection of the skin. He employs the help of lavandula angustifolia which successfully treats the infection.
René-Maurice and family made great contributions to aromatherapy, and his legacy lives on in the large corporation that carries his name: Gattefossé. The company continues to be involved in the production and research of aromatherapy – from distillation of essential oils to formulating cosmetics and pharmaceuticals with essential oils and their isolated constituents.
The company had a documentary created of René-Maurice Gattefossé from archives of photographs and videos. Available here, in English, for your viewing pleasure is Monsieur Gattefossé’s story:
R.M. Gattefossé: The Founding of Aromatherapy (2005)