Meanwhile, as the U.S. Government was quietly growing and distilling essential oils to research their medicinal benefits, and the FDA was taking steps to ensure that only patentable, synthetic drugs approved by them could ever be used to treat any illness, Gattefossé’s work was not entirely forgotten in France.
Jean Valnet was born July 26, 1920 in what is now the city of Châlons-en-Champagne, France (formerly known as Châlons-sur-Marne, the name was changed in 1998). As a boy he had opportunity to observe the healing power of plants on many occasions, used by adults who seemed to be aware of the medicinal properties of many of the local plants surrounding them, and who seemed to accept them in a matter of fact way without really understanding how they worked. Jean Valnet wanted to know more, and tucked this observations away in his enquiring young mind for future reference.
He served in combat during World War II (1940-45) and began to study medicine at the Military Academy of the Arrow, at the School of the Military Department of Health, and the Medical College of Lyon. From 1944-1945 he was Assistant Chief of Surgical Services for Evacuation Hospital 412, and he earned his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1945, as well as Diplomas in Forensic Medicine, Psychiatry, Microbiology, Hygiene, and Colonial Medicine. As a soldier, he earned many honors. He was an OfficerCroix de Guerre 1939-1945 of the Legion of Honor and held the Croix de Guerre during the years 1939-1945. He earned six Cross TOE (Theatre of External Operations) citations and the honors he held included ” Cross of the Fighter,” “Cross Volunteer Fighter ,” “Cross of Resistance Fighter Volunteer ” and ” Medal of the Free French .”
Following his graduation in 1945, he was appointed Lieutenant and served as Assistant Surgeon for Evacuation hospitals 412 and 501 in Germany. He also served as doctor for the School of Application of the Infantry, and the prestigious Special Military School of St. Cyr, which is the foremost military academy in France.
This academy had originally been founded in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte at Fontainebleu near Paris, using the historic buildings of the Maison Royale de Saint-Louis The Maison Royale de Saint-Louis was originally founded in 1685 by Louis XIV for impoverished daughters of noblemen who had died for France. Several other moves of the school followed, and in 1808, the cadets eventually settled west of Paris in Saint-Cyr.
In 1948 he was promoted to the rank of Captain, and served as Surgeon of the Advanced Surgical Unit at Tonkin, the leading surgical unit in this location, from 1950 – 1953. In 1954, Valnet earned a Bronze medal for his scientific work. He found consistent results and great success in using many essential oils and aromatic solutions in dressing the wounds during this time. Later, he served as chief physician to the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the French armed forces, including the Chief of the Secretary of State for War, Staff of the Army, and Office of the Secretary of the Army. Dr. Valnet also earned the academic decoration of being appointed Commanding Officer of the ” National Order of Academic Palms ” at the age of 36 for his exceptional scientific research and services to Higher Education. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1958 and served as commanding doctor and physician for Emergency Services. Other awards included the Golden Civic Star and Silver Medal of Physical Education. Valnet was also Officer of the Franco-British Alliance, Commander of the League for Protection of Children, and Commander for the National Order of the Ivory Coast as well as a member of numerous medical and cultural organizations.
Dr. Valnet retired from the military in 1959 and continued his medical practice at his Paris surgery in the Avenue Kléber, continuing to advise his patients that a healthy diet and phyto-aromatherapy were important in maintaining wellness. He chaired the first Symposium of Medical Aromatherapy in Paris in 1960, and his first reference work, titled “Aromatherapy : the treatment of ailments by Plant Essences” was published in 1964. This was followed by a second book, “The treatment of ailments with vegetables, fruits and cereals” in 1967. He wrote “Doctor Nature” in 1971, and “Phytotherapy : the treatment of ailments by Plants” in 1972. These works were based on Dr. Valnet’s clinical observations, and spurred him to continued research in studying the anti-infectious properties of essential oils. In collaboration with Dr. M. Girault of Dijon, he coined the term “aromatogramme” to describe a method using essential oils to test antimicrobial
susceptibility. Valnet also foresaw the dangers of overusing antibiotics.
Dr. Valnet founded the first association for the research and study of phyto‐aromatherapy in 1971, and from 1976 until his death in 1995, he organized a a major annual international phyto‐aromatherapy conference which was widely attended by medical doctors, research scientists, and academics. In 1981, Dr. Valnet also founded the college of phytoaromatherapy and field‐based medicine in the French language. As a result of Dr. Valnet’s extensive research, he is generally considered by many as the “father of modern‐day phyto‐aromatherapy”.
The forward thinking ideas of Dr. Valnet were well ahead of his time. In his book, the Practice of Aromatherapy, published in 1980 as a culmination of his research and clinical observations, he wrote, “Normal preventive medicine, which consists in giving healthy people drugs and injections of products whose future effects are unpredictable, is an aberration. Bringing about change by non-toxic means is the only efficacious course, among which aromatic plants and their essences have been, are, and will remain in the front rank.” Dr. Valnet was the first to record the specific properties, indications, and dosages of essential oils useful in medical practice. His work is credited for being the foundation of two great trends, which are the clinical and scientific approach which is regularly used by doctors in France, and more general popular trend of aromatherapy geared towards wellness and a healthy lifestyle.
Dr. Valnet formulated his own line of 44 specifically recommended essential oils, and in 1985 selected Cosbionat Laboratory to produce his famous preparations. Cosbionat is located in the beautiful Loire Valley of France, on the fringes of the Vendômoise forest. The laboratory was originally founded in 1981 by Marie-Thé Tiphaigne and her late husband Jackie Tiphaigne, who had followed Dr. Valnet’s teachings for 13 years.Dr. Valnet continued to review and update his rearch until his death in 1995, after which the Tiphaigne’s continued to market his exclusive line of essential oils. Following the passing of her husband, Marie-Thé Tiphaigne still continues the work begun by Dr. Valnet. The oils are carefully sourced from long-time organic growers across five continents and steam distilled at low pressure. Citrus oils are cold pressed. Each batch is then tested against certified benchmarks for gas chromatagraphy, density, optical rotation, refractive index, and sensory testing of color, smell, and taste. Additional tests are conducted for environmental contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals.
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