What is Aromatherapy?

What is Aromatherapy? - Tisserand Malaysia

Heard of aromatherapy and want to know more? You’re in the right place.  Most people have some sort of perception as to what aromatherapy is, but I’m here to clear up any confusion. This post will cover what it is and how it came to be. 

In short, aromatherapy is the application of essential oils extracted from plants to promote health and wellbeing. It’s a holistic healing practise that uses natural oils and their aromas to support the body, mind and spirit. There are many things aromatherapy can help with, including sleepmoodmuscle aches and pains. So how did this wonderful practice come to be?

When did aromatherapy start? And where does it come from?

The word ‘aromatherapy’ was first used by a French chemist, Gattefosse, in the 1930s. He studied plants in a scientific environment and began to understand their effectiveness in treating and supporting certain health conditions. 

In 1977, Robert Tisserand (recognise the name?) wrote The Art of Aromatherapy  to bring awareness to Gattefosse’s research and the power of the plants. His book has gone on to be published in many languages around the world and is still used today to understand aromatherapy and the use of essential oils. Despite the word being relatively new, aromatherapy isn’t a new concept. For centuries plants have been used by humans to support their health and wellbeing…. 

Aromatherapy through the ages

Evidence shows that ancient civilizations all used plants in their everyday life as a form of medicine. For example:

  • Texts on the Ancient Indian science of Ayurveda mention Sandalwood and Patchouli
  • The Romans extensively used plants to support their health, including Lavender
  • The Greek physician and father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, wrote about using herbs and plants as medicine
  • In ancient Egypt, plants were used for daily health, around the home, and in balms and tinctures.
  • As we race forward in time to the Middle Ages, plants were used by the physicians of the time to protect people against plagues and other illnesses. Skip to today, and aromatherapy is readily available and accessible to everyone.

3 ways to use aromatherapy

If you visit an Aromatherapist,  they will consider your overall health and create a bespoke blend of essential oils for your needs, then you will most likely receive a massage. But there are different applications and ways to use essential oils exist that also fall under the umbrella of aromatherapy.  


  1. Roller balls – a quick way to use aromatherapy on the go
  2. Diffuser oils – for you to use at home or in the office
  3. Massage oils – to soothe achy muscles or help you sleep

The future of aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the perfect blend (pardon the pun) of ancient wisdom and modern research. The knowledge that has been passed down for centuries is now being backed up by peer-reviewed experiments and trials, published all over the world. If you are new to Aromatherapy, or even a well-seasoned user, make sure to check out our blogs, where we share new ways to bring the benefits of essential oils into your life. Here’s to a future where everyone benefits from the power of plants!

About Jo Kellett

Our essential oil expert, Jo Kellett TIDHA MIFPA CIMI, graduated from the Tisserand Institute of Holistic Aromatherapy in 1996. She returned to the college in 1999 as Essential Oil Therapeutics Tutor, where she taught until the college closed. Jo runs a successful private Aromatherapy practice in Brighton, specialising in Women’s health. Jo is also an internationally published author and has lectured on the subject of Aromatherapy both in the UK and abroad.

For more information on Jo Kellett, check out her website or Instagram.