The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines aromatherapy as “the use of natural oils that have a pleasant smell to make a person feel better especially by rubbing the oils into the skin”. Yet aromatherapy is so much more than that. True, oils can have a pleasant smell and , absolutely, they can make a person feel better but that is just the start. There are so many oils that can help with so many things ranging from headaches to anxiety, digestive problems to skin disorders and the list goes on.
My love of aromatherapy was inspired by one of the true pioneers in this field; Madame Micheline Arcier. Born in a small French village where her grandmother owned vineyards, Mme Arcier grew up surrounded by aromatic plants, vines and olive trees and inherited her grandmothers knowledge and love for natural remedies, created in the family kitchen.
She trained and worked in beauty therapy in Paris before moving to England, where she attended a lecture by Marguerite Maury, who is accredited for bringing aromatherapy to the UK in the late 1950’s. Mme Maury’s revolutionary methods of combining oils and massage techniques focusing on the nervous system proved an inspiration to Micheline and she worked as her assistant before going on to open her own Knightsbridge clinic a few years later.
For more than four decades, Mme Arcier perfected her unique aromatherapy massage techniques and developed hand-blended oils to meet the needs of her clients. She worked with aromatherapy clinician Dr Jean Valnet to deepen her knowledge of the medical background of aromatherapy and the potential of essential oils and inspired countless people through her treatments and teaching, becoming one of the pioneers of true aromatherapy.
I was lucky enough to work at the Micheline Arcier clinic for 3 years, after I qualified as an aromatherapist. Taught by Germaine Rich, one of Mme Arcier’s first assistants, I was able to hone and refine my skills under expert tutelage. An experience which enhanced not only my knowledge but also my love of this amazing therapy.
Today, essential oils are my go to remedy for so many things that it’s hard to imagine not having used them forever. I don’t claim that essential oils can cure everything but, from both my own and client experiences, I do believe they are incredibly beneficial for health and well-being.
Although the Micheline Arcier clinic closed in 2009, her traditions are still being carried forward by Germaine Rich and Catherine Milne, who now own the company. Germaine continues to hand-blend beautiful aromatherapy oils using Mme Arcier’s recipes and I am delighted to once again be offering Mme Arcier’s carefully crafted aromatherapy massage, facial and pregnancy massage, using her blends, at Bodymatters Clinic in Belsize Park, London NW3.
You can read more on Mme Arcier and her legacy as a try pioneer of aromatherapy in the article, written by Germaine, on the Micheline Arcier website.