Essential oils have found application throughout history for a wide variety of wellness application. The Egyptians were some of the first ones to use aromatic essential oils for medicinal purpose, beauty treatments, food preparations and in religious ceremonies. Frankincense, sandalwood, myrrh and cinnamon were some of the essential oils which were considered very valuable cargo along caravan trade routes and were sometimes exchanged for gold.
The Greeks took the trend forward and started using essential oils for therapeutic massage and aromatherapy. The Romans were also known to have used aromatic oils to promote health and for personal hygiene. Influenced by the Greeks and Romans, as well as Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic use of aromatic herbs, the Persians began to refine distillation methods for extracting essential oils from aromatic plants. Essential oil extracts were used throughout the dark ages in Europe for their anti-bacterial and fragrant properties.
In modern times, the powerful healing properties of essential oils were rediscovered in 1937 by a French chemist, Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, who healed a badly burnt hand with pure lavender oil. The story of how he discovered the benefits of using essential oils is rather interesting. He was badly burned in a laboratory explosion which covered him with burning substances. He tried to extinguish these by rolling himself on a grassy lawn but both his hands were covered with a rapidly developing gas gangrene. Just one rinse with lavender essence stopped "the gasification of the tissue" and the healing began next day. The results impressed him greatly and possibly saved his life as well.
This started a fascination with essential oils and inspired him to experiment with them during the First World War on soldiers in the military hospitals." Later on a French contemporary, Dr. Jean Valnet, used therapeutic-grade essential oils to successfully treat injured soldiers during World War II. Dr. Valnet went on to become a world leader in the development of aromatherapy practices
The modern use of essential oils has continued to grow rapidly as health scientists and medical practitioners continue to research and validate the numerous health and wellness benefits of therapeutic-grade essential oil.