Aromatherapy's natural appeal drives sales

October 4, 2015

Long eclipsed by modern medicine, demand for aromatherapy with its sensual fragrances and soothing powers has surged as more people are attracted to natural products.

Fans of the plant-based as a means of tackling physical ailments and promoting have helped propel sales, which in France for example jumped by around 16 percent this year.

In Germany, aromatherapy has even made its way into hospitals for treating bedsores.

But the appeal for many users of the therapeutic essential oils, which can be administered in several ways including massage or inhalation, is the chance to take charge of their own wellbeing.

One company riding the wave of aromatherapy's rising popularity is Puressentiel, which has grown rapidly since its founding a decade ago.

It now employs about 100 workers and has five branches around Europe in Belgium, Britain, Italy, Luxembourg and Spain.

The family firm rang up sales of 70 million euros ($78 million) last year and aims to better that by a fifth this year.

From the company's delicately scented headquarters in an upscale neighbourhood of western Paris, Marco and Isabelle Pacchioni have ambitions to turn Puressentiel from France's leader in the field to the world's number one.

The company recently opened a subsidiary in Canada, and is now eyeing the massive US market.

In France alone, aromatherapy sales in pharmacies and other outlets came to 180 million euros for the 12 months from July 2014, a 16-percent jump compared with the same period a year earlier.

'Not treating illnesses'

With that growth fuelled by a desire for , Puressentiel sources its ingredients worldwide, which are then steam distilled. Its bestselling product boasts no fewer than 41 essential oils.

"We realise that the users of our products want to take charge of their shape, their well-being and their little everyday ailments," said Isabelle Pacchioni, whose mother was a herbalist and her father, a naturopath.

"They're asking themselves questions which for a long time have been hidden by a sort of lobbying by synthetic chemicals," she added.

Aromatherapy claims to offer preventive and healing remedies for a gamut of ills, such as colds, headaches, insomnia, fatigue, stress and insect bites.

Isabelle Pacchioni said aromatherapy fans were no longer seduced simply by the fact of using plant-based products, but needed to see that the products actually produced results.

But there are limits of what they can achieve. "We're not going to treat illnesses, but treat the environment" of those who are sick, Pacchioni said.

In Germany, around 30 hospitals employ essential oils for cleaning or preventing bedsores, especially in elderly people.

"We often notice that the costs are lower than with conventional pharmaceutical products," Monika Werner, a German specialist in alternative medicines and a speaker on aromatherapy, said.

"The view of many doctors has changed on aromatherapy, but the road has been long and there will always be sceptics," she added.

Don't look for miracles

But experts warn against the effects of the misuse or abuse of essential oils, not least because of the risk of dashed hopes.

"The trend for the public at large to go back to nature" can lead to a tendency "to go looking everywhere a bit for a miracle" said Anne Landreau, a biodiversity researcher at Nice University.

As a trained pharmacist, she also cautioned that essential oils, like medicines, are made up of active compounds which must be used in precise cases, following good guidance and in the correct quantity.

She does not advise their use for pregnant women and babies, for example.

She added, however, that a scientific study on essential oils that she carried out herself at the anti-poison centre of a public hospital in Angers, western France, had concluded that it was simply not possible to say whether they were dangerous or not.

"It depends on their composition, the quantity used and reactions of each person," she added.

Explore further: Aromatherapy: more than just a pleasant scent?

Related Stories

Aromatherapy: more than just a pleasant scent?

April 26, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Aromatherapy is beginning to enter the medical mainstream, with groups as diverse as the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs touting the use of fragrance as a therapy that can ...

Two alternative treatments may help relieve postoperative nausea

August 22, 2013
Two simple, non-drug treatments—aromatherapy and intravenous administration of a simple sugar solution—may offer effective new approaches to relieving nausea and vomiting after surgery, report a pair of studies in the ...

Short-term exposure to essential oils lowers blood pressure and heart rate

November 29, 2012
The scents which permeate our health spas from aromatic essential oils may provide more benefits than just a sense of rest and well-being.

Recommended for you

Your heart hates air pollution. Portable filters could help

November 13, 2018
Microscopic particles floating in the air we breathe come from sources such as fossil fuel combustion, fires, cigarettes and vehicles. Known as fine particulate matter, this form of air pollution increases the risk of cardiovascular ...

Simple tips can lead to better food choices

November 13, 2018
A few easily learned tips on eating and food choice can increase amount of healthy food choices between 5 percent and 11 percent, a new Yale University study has found.

No accounting for these tastes: Artificial flavors a mystery

November 13, 2018
Six artificial flavors are being ordered out of the food supply in a dispute over their safety, but good luck to anyone who wants to know which cookies, candies or drinks they're in.

Insufficient sleep in children is associated with poor diet, obesity and more screen time

November 13, 2018
A new study conducted among more than 177,000 students suggests that insufficient sleep duration is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle profile among children and adolescents.

New exercise guidelines: Move more, sit less, start younger

November 12, 2018
Move more, sit less and get kids active as young as age 3, say new federal guidelines that stress that any amount and any type of exercise helps health.

Some activity fine for kids recovering from concussions, docs say

November 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—Children and teens who suffer a sports-related concussion should reduce, but not eliminate, physical and mental activity in the days after their injury, an American Academy of Pediatrics report says.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.