Essential oils have been used by many cultures thousands of years ago. Throughout that time there have been many successful historical characters who laid the groundwork for the essential oil industry we see today. Hippocrates, The father of Greek medicine, along with another Greek physician named Galen both laid the groundwork for essential oils being a part of Greek medicine. The two physicians documented hundreds of plants collectively and began drafting books that spread through Rome and surrounding countries for hundreds of years to come. At the time, essential oils were influencing the daily lifestyles. Romans and Greeks both used oils in baths, during massages, on bedding, and as perfumes, and considered the oils to be part of a healthy life.
After thousands of years passed, our next big essential oil founding father came along. A 12-year-old child by the name Ali-Ibn Sana was a working physician in 992 AD. His major contribution to essential oils was the discovery and recording of the process of steam distilling essential oils, a method still used to this day. He went on to write books that detailed the properties of over 800 plants and their effects on the human body.
About 650 years later, In Europe Nicholas Culpeper wrote the book “The Complete Herbal” which the text is still referenced, and while not all of what is in it stands up with today’s modern science, a lot of it is does still get referenced today.
It wasn’t until the 1900s in France that aromatherapy was introduced to the world by a French chemist named Rene-Maurice Gattefosse. He studied the antiseptic properties of essential oils. In 1928 he wrote a book titled “Aromatherapy.” The book explains the various healing uses of essential oils in relation to historical medical cases. One of the cases outlined in the book was a personal one. While working in his lab, an explosion burned Gattefosse. In desperation, he submerged his hands in the nearest pool of liquid, which happened to be lavender essential oil. Much to his own surprise after the explosion, his burns never got infected and healed without scarring which motivated him to explore so deeply into other essential oils and their uses. It is documented that in France during an outbreak of Spanish flu many deaths were reported in surrounding areas of Spanish flu, but none occurred in the hospital Gattefosse worked in which became the landmark for heavy interest into the uses of lavender we still research today.