AROMA-CHOLOGY® is the term coined by the Olfactory Research Fund (now known as the Sense of Smell Institute) in 1989 to describe the concept which is developed to scientifically study the interrelationship of psychology and fragrance technology. Studies sponsored by the Fund at colleges and universities around the world are designed to investigate a variety of specific feelings (such as relaxation, exhilaration, sensuality, happiness and self-confidence) which are elicited through odors via stimulation of the olfactory pathways to the limbic system or “pleasure center” of the brain. Before the Fund developed the concept of Aroma-Chology®, the findings of which have been acknowledged by the scientific community and embraced and utilized by mainstream society, the effects of fragrance on behavior were generally included under the misnomer of AROMATHERAPY.

The following chart is meant to finally clarify the distinction between Aroma-Chology® and Aromatherapy and to become a standard point of reference.



Aroma-Chology is a concept based on systematic, scientific data collected under controlled conditions. It was developed in 1989 under the leadership of the Olfactory Research Fund (now known as the Sense of Smell Institute). Aroma-Chology is dedicated to the study of the inter-relationship of psychology and the latest in fragrance technology to transmit through odor a variety of specific feelings (such as relaxation, exhilaration, sensuality, happiness and achievement) directly to the brain.


Aromatherapy is a concept based largely on anecdotal individual case studies and folklore. It prescribes the use of natural essential oils and herbs for the treatment of various mental and physical disorders. It is generally used in combination with body massage, the result of which is described by advocates to heal, beautify and soothe the body and mind.

From the Sense of smell institute

Comments from AbdesSalaam Attar, Composer Perfumer

The small ®  that follows AROMA-CHOLOGY  clearly indicates the kind of commercial mentality that runs the organization. The most diminutive definition  given in this page of the Aromatherapy, a science rooted in all traditional medicine that is becoming a real World trend and a huge expending field of research, is a pathetic tentative to deter potential customers (companies interested in olfactory marketing) from opting for the real thing. In fact my experience with people is that anybody who tried the natural essences will never go back to the chemical ones and will develop a strong aversion towards them.

There is a tentative going on to develop confusion between the two terms in order to shift the aromatherapy trend towards aroma-chology but the small ® makes it difficult for the fund and eventually people could keep to Aromatherapy calling it Aroma-chology. Nevertheless the customers that the fund is trying to win are not the people (us), for whose health and well-being it has no interest at all, but the multinational companies to whom it proposes to sell new coercive instruments of marketing. There is a real danger that our life could become filled with chemical fragrances as a result of the fund’s research, with a heavy toll to pay in mental, physical and emotional health, but people will fight against that as they are now fighting against transgeny or pollution, and this fight is just in the nature of things. It is not, as they will say, fight of science against ignorance but rather fight of man’s avidity of against the generosity of nature, as the small ® clearly shows.

For more on the subject see  Risky perfumes
Greenpeace: The ultimate toxic fragrances