Essential Oil Heritage: Jean Valnet, M.D.
Jean Valnet, M.D., is well known throughout France as a medical doctor, but his roots are in natural medicine. His grandmother was a midwife and herbalist, and Dr. Valnet observed her treat people with plants she had gathered herself.
As a fourteen-year-old, Dr. Valnet experienced a healing event by watching an old herdsman named Brenot. One day, this man was gashed in the cheek by the horn of one of the cows he and young Valnet were tending. As Valnet was about to seek an antiseptic, the old man applied a bit of cobweb to the wound. The next day the man created a poultice of herbs gathered from the side of the road. In a week, the wound had totally healed. The scientist in Jean Valnet could look back on this experience and understand that cobwebs indeed have an antiseptic property and that plants also have curative powers.
So it is not surprising to find that Dr. Valnet employed therapeutic essential oils in battlefield situations as he practiced surgery during World War II. Following the war, Dr. Valnet devoted his time to the study of natural therapies, publishing the book Aromatherapy: The Treatment of Diseases with Plant Essences in 1964. This work was translated from French and is available as The Practice of Aromatherapy: A Classic Compendium of Plant Medicines & Their Healing Properties (edited by Robert Tisserand, Healing Arts Press, 1990).
Dr. Jean Valnet was the first to establish dosages of essential oils for therapeutic use. In his aroma therapy book, he writes: “Internally, the essential oils are prescribed in the form of either capsules or drops, or most often, in honey water. They are given alone or in association with other oils. Depending on the case, dosage will vary between 5 and 20 drops of pure essence administered several times a day before or during meals, or between 20 and 30 drops taken four times a day in honey diluted in a half a glass of warm water.” 1
For “sluggish digestion,” Dr. Valnet wrote that one could take peppermint essential oil internally in a dosage of “2 to 5 drops several times a day, either in a draught [drink] or in honey water.” 2
During the holiday season, many people decorate an orange with dried cloves. This tradition, however, began as protection against communicable disease. Dr. Valnet notes that cloves were used in the original four thieves’ formula used during the plague, and he recommends taking 2 to 4 drops of clove essential oil three times a day. 3 (This formula is now updated in Young Living’s Thieves® oil blend and product line.)
In 1964, Dr. Val net wrote: “It is conceivable that the day will come when the true therapeutic value of natural substances will be given proper recognition.” Today, modern science has validated the worth of essential oils in thousands of medical studies.
2. Ibid., 173
3. Ibid. 115