The history of Aromatherapy dates back at least to 4000 BC, although the term “aromatherapy” was first used in the 1920s by the French chemist René Maurice Gattefossé who accidentally discovered in his laboratory that lavender oil relieves pain and assists minor burns in healing. It is historically proved that the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Persians used to use aromatherapy oils, aromatic plants were also known in ancient China. Moreover, there is historical evidence in the Bible for the use of plants and oils for therapeutic but also religious aims.
In ancient Egypt, plant oils were widely used for cosmetics, spiritual relaxation, as well as for embalming and mummification of their deads. At that age, on special occasions women and men used to wear on their heads a gradually-melting solid cone that released its fragrance. As a consequence of the Egyptians’ love for aromatic plants and herbs, the fragrance industry and aromatic medicine were developed more than in any other ancient culture.
The history of Aromatherapy leads us to Ancient Greece. Greeks borrowed many healing and relaxation techniques from the Egyptians. They used herbs and aromatherapy oils for medicines and cosmetics. Asclepius (circa 1200 BC ) is the first known physician in history who experimented with herbs and plants in his surgeries. Hypocrites (circa 400 BC ), “the father of medicine”, studied the beneficial effects of hundreds of scented plants and herbs. He believed that good health can be promoted with aromatic baths and oil massage and therefore surgeries should be avoided when possible. Other Greek physicians who dealt with herbs and aromatic oils are Pedacius Dioscorides and Theophrastus who prescribed herbal and aromatic remedies.