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90 Years: Pioneering Philosophy, the science of scent

90 Years: Pioneering Philosophy, the science of scent

Sometimes, a word becomes so normalised, so absorbed within our general parlance, that we forget there was a time this word did not exist. Indeed, it can be startling how recently some words were coined, how swiftly they become accepted and understood. 

Often, new terminology can be a result of a path of pioneering exploration, giving rise to evolutionary words that are inspired by new discoveries, founded on the shoulders of revolutionary thinkers, innovative scientists, ground-breaking creatives who challenge the status-quo, encouraging a shift in standards and normality. 

Etymology: The birth of a word, the start of an industry 

Using the power of plants for their therapeutic power is an ancient practice dating back to Egyptian, Roman and Chinese cultures, many thousands of years ago. Plant oils were used in sacrifice, celebration and to embalm the dead on their passage to the next life, in the belief that they were healing, restorative and possessed spiritual significance. These are the historical origins of what we know today as Aromatherapy. Latterly, leading scientists such as Louis Pasteur became interested in the power of plant essential oils in the 1800s, exploring the medicinal opportunities of the natural world.

However, while the practice of Aromatherapy is traceable throughout history, in actuality, the term was not coined until more recently in 1937 by Rene-Maurice Gattefosse. His work around the healing relevance of plants, his collaboration with lavender farmers, his perfumery creativity and inquisitive scientific mind, lead him to explore the potent healing power of essential oils. After an accidental burn from an experiment in his lab, he witnessed personally the healing power of lavender oil to rejuvenate and heal the skin at the site of the burn. Gattefosse had become prolific in his writing on the subject of the botanical healing, resulting in an array of published works, including the book ‘Aromatherapie’ in 1937.

Which came first Olverum or Aromachology?

Around a similar time, in Germany, original founders of Olverum, Franz and Edith Klein were unwittingly at the vanguard of the era of scent exploration, holistic wellbeing, spa culture and the study of how scent affects the brain’s limbic system with mood and emotion. Their precedent was to create a product that was uninhibited, that existed to soothe and restore – the zenith of natural wellbeing and restorative botanical synergy.

For 90 years, since 1931, Olverum has been creating within a sector that was not defined at its conception, carving out a brand identity before trends and labels; based entirely on principle, passion and the pursuit of excellence.

Since then, through wars and the blistering speed of innovation, the brand has maintained core touchstones, staying true to heritage and philosophy.

It was not until 1989 when the term Aromachology was coined by The Sense of Smell Institute (formerly The Fragrance Foundation). This immediately resonated with many of the principles of creation that had been utterly instinctual to Olverum since the beginning and to this day. 

But what is the difference between Aromatherapy and Aromachology?

Aromatherapy is the venerable study and practice of using the volatile active ingredients of plants, flowers, herbs and trees for their therapeutic, healing properties. The fragrance element for mood and emotional stimulation, is almost a secondary element, though undoubtedly a part of this holistic, complementary practice, the guiding philosophy is rooted in the belief that plant sources can have a physiological response.

Aromatherapy is as old as our written records from ancient civilisations and while gaps remain in our understanding, science is once again opening its mind to the power of plants for physiological benefit as modern life takes a toll on biological resources and mental health.

Aromachology is entirely science based. It is defined as the study of understanding “the range of emotions elicited by scents through stimulation of the olfactory pathways to the human brain.”(The Scent of Smell Institute).

For Aromachology, the scent does not have to be naturally derived – it is the mechanical understanding of the influence of scent and the limbic system, our emotional reactivity, memory recall and not whether the scent is plant origin or synthetic, that is the focus.

Each does not need to exist entirely in isolation, together both compliment an holistic wellbeing of the physical and mental. Yet, the advent of this definition, succinctly encapsulated the direction of Olverum to step beyond spa origins and into the realms of evidence based, science reasoned development of beauty and wellbeing solutions.

Olverum: Mindful Luxury – Powered by Nature – Finessed by Science

From the origins of the brand, to today’s modern evolution, the creation of every Olverum product, begins with the desire to impact mind, body or space. Each is crafted with ingredients, extracts and scent blends to achieve the desired impact with effective, results driven, luxurious formulations finished to our exacting standards and our signature attention to detail.

Whether you are conscious of the motivation for your choice of product or not, if a fragrance in a formula or treatment manifests positive memories and uplifting emotional triggers, whether that is comfort, energy, love, tranquillity…the connection with that scent will deepen the memory, building affirmative associations with the product.

Using products that engage this heartening mindset enable the product to support achieving that state of wellbeing once more.

For over 90 years, our development ethos and pledge to our customers is that your sense of wellbeing at the core of our choices. We only choose the finest ingredients, we leave out what has no place, we rest on science to elevate nature. We understand that products can become more than performing functional benefit, but instead become a part of your armoury to tackle life and all its challenges, how a scent of an oil can give you a sense of strength to face a difficult day, or enable a memory to flood back for comfort.

Our heritage - your wellbeing.

As it was then, it is now and will always be. No compromise. 


Noted Resources:

Essential Oils, Phytoncides, Aromachology, and Aromatherapy - A Review