Although it is generally accepted that Rene-Maurice Gattefosse was the 'founder' of 'modern' day aromatherapy, there were many great herbalists and physicans who contributed much to plant medicine throughout the centuries and who inadvertently influenced aromatherapy as we know it today.
Last week, I profiled Hippocrates use of herbs and medicinal plants in plant medicine; Hippocrates became the inspiration of, and influence on, one of the greatest Arab physicians of all time - Avicenna (980 A.D. - 1037 A.D.). Avicenna (also known as Ib'n Sina) was accredited with the invention of the refrigerated coil in the distillation process of plants and made it possible to distil essential oils and floral waters (hydrosols). Although, distillation was in practice before Avicenna's invention, the refrigerated coil improved the distillation process.
One of the plants which Avicenna researched and experimented with a lot was the rose (Rosa damascena). The rose was revered in the ancient Arab world and consequently the rose became on one of the first flowers Avicenna distilled with the refrigerated coil.
Today, Avicenna is still a great influence on modern day medicine and plant medicine and it is possible to study the healing traditions Avicenna and the Middle East in many healing and medicinal practices.
To learn more on Avicenn'as work read The Use of Plants in Medicine by Avicenna