The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all used aromatherapy oils and techniques. The Egyptian physician Imhotep (an important figure in Ancient Egyptian medicine) recommended fragrant oils for bathing, massage, and for embalming their dead nearly 6000 years ago. He was the author of a medical essay, or treatise, that was noted as being remarkable since it was devoid of magical thinking. The Edwin Smith papyrus contains some of these writings on anatomical observations, ailments, and cures. In fact the 48 cases contained within the Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus concern:
Continuing down through history, ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, is referred to as the father of modern medicine in recognition of his lasting contributions to the field as the founder of the Hippocratic School of Medicine. This intellectual school revolutionized medicine in ancient Greece and established medicine as a profession. Hippocrates also used aromatherapy baths and scented massage in his practice of medicine. Even using aromatic fumigations to rid Athens of the plague.
It wasn't until 1910 that the modern era of aromatherapy arose. French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse was working in his laboratory when he badly burned his hand during an experiment. He plunged his hand into the nearest tub of liquid which happened to be lavender essential oil. He was later amazed at how quickly his burn healed and with very little scarring. This started his fascination with essential oils and inspired him to experiment with them further. During the first World War he used essential oil on soldiers in the military hospitals. He used oils of lavender, thyme, lemon and clove for their antiseptic properties. Gattefosse noted an increase in the rate of healing in wounds treated with essential oils and that the oils seemed to be free from the disadvantages present with other antiseptic agents in use at that time. Gattefosse is actually the one who coined the term aromatherapy for the therapeutic use of essential oils.
Additionally, during World War II, the French army surgeon Dr. Jean Valnet also used essential oils as antiseptics. Later, Madame Marguerite Maury elevated aromatherapy as a holistic therapy. She started prescribing essential oils as remedy for her patients. She is also credited with the modern use of essential oils in massage.
Medical disclaimer: The information provided herein is for personal interest and informational purposes only. It is NOT intended to offer medical treatment for any condition. Essential oils are very concentrated and are not to be used undiluted on the skin or taken internally otherwise instructed by your Doctor. Keep out of reach of children and pets.