Egyptians were the first
to recognize the therapeutic
properties of essential oils.
is the practice of using essential oils to bring health and
clarity to one's mind, body, and spirit.
The key to pure aromatherapy
is using pure essential oils. These oils are acquired by extracting
them from aromatic plants. Today, synthetic or man-made oils
may be appealing, but they have no real therapeutic properties.
and priests burned incense in the temples. The wealthy and
royalty covered themselves in various oils practically from
head to toe. What we might consider mental or emotional problems,
the ancient Egyptians considered to be evil spirits. To ward
off these evil spirits or bring someone to a deeper plane
of meditation, burning incense was necessary.
different beautiful blends were also created for perfumes
and cosmetics. It is said that Cleopatra used her unique combination
of aromas as a love
potion to win the heart of Mark Antony. Even in the afterlife,
Egyptians embalmed the bodies of their dead with aromatic
plants and ointments. Which plants and ointments were used
depended on how much wealth the person had while alive. Ironically,
the Egyptians learned much of what they knew about cosmetics
from what they learned through the embalming process.
The Indians, the Hebrews, the Babylonian Empire ... in fact, most
ancient cultures practiced along the same lines as the Egyptians.
The Babylonians took it a step further and made it
a law that all people be doused with fragrance!
not only learned from the Egyptians. They discovered more
in the way of medicinal healing. Hippocrates, "the father
of medicine," taught people to heal themselves using
their diets and plants. Theophrastus, "the father of
botany," suggested many of the common 4th century
from De Materia
Medica, the "bible" of
in turn learned from the Greeks. From bathing in bath houses
to civic ceremonies, aromatics were found in abundance. In
fact, after each Roman conquest, the Romans brought their
botanicals with them thereby introducing them to their new
lands. When the Roman Empire collapsed in the fifth century
most of what was known regarding aromatherapy and the use
of botanicals disappeared. The Arabs, however, continued experimenting
and exploring the world of perfumes. Avicenna, an Arab physician,
was the first to extract essential oils using distillation.
Fast forward to the sixteenth century when the sky-high popularity
of aromatics (especially among the French) resulted in everything
from public fountains to drinking water being fragranced.
However, this did not last past the eighteenth century, when
better hygiene and public health policies no longer necessitated
the need for one aroma to cover up another!
Eventually, religion turned the focus off of the aromatics.
The pagans and witches used oils and botanicals for their
spells and cosmetics brought the attention to a woman's outward
beauty and away from religious devotion. Some British lawmakers
actually tried to pass a law prohibiting women from wearing
fragrances in the belief that this "sorcery" often
allowed women to disable men's decision making capabilities
or to lure them into marriage! The law did not pass.
Aromatherapy in the modern era
essential oils prevailed until the days of modern medicine
and antibiotics. Yellow fever was treated with sandalwood
and thyme, typhoid fever with cinnamon, and TB with lavender.
Around the middle of the 19th century these oils became
even more popular used in perfumes and cosmetics.
the 1920's lavender was
rediscovered as a cure for
burns, sparking a renewed
interest in aromatherapy.
Essential oils were slowly
replaced by synthetic chemicals in most medicines and perfumes
because they were cheaper to make. By the twentieth century,
the natural beauty of essential oils, not to mention their
healing power, were all but forgotten.
In the 1920's, French chemist Rene-Maurice
Gattefosse burned his hand severely. Immediately, he plunged
it into the nearest liquid to relieve the pain. The liquid
and his hand healed remarkably fast and there was no scarring.
This accident ended up being the beginning of a revival. From
that point on he spent his life unveiling the therapeutic
properties of essential oils, and began calling the healing
power of aromatic essential oils "aromatherapy."
People today are taking a much deeper interest in the natural,
or holistic, approach to medicine. Staying away from synthetics
and trying to find a more pure form of emotional and physical
healing has brought aromatherapy to the forefront of many
hearts and minds.
Unfortunately, today the future of aromatherapy remains in
doubt. Essential oils are rare, and take time to extract, a fact that drives up costs. Today, cheap low-cost synthetic oils dominate the
market, leaving consumers generally unaware of natural oil's
healing power something the Egyptians recognized centuries
What started with the ancients and spread throughout so many
different cultures over centuries remains the fine art of
aromatherapy. Although there are different uses and traditions,
the essential oils they use are still the same.
getting back to basics with alternative ways for holistic healing
has refueled a growing interest in aromatherapy. Let's not
let centuries of knowledge fall by the wayside. Make a choice
to heal and change your life. Educate yourself about the wonders
Home Holistic Online
- Its history and modern usage, including information on essential
oils as a remedy for diseases, physical ailments and emotional
stress, along with a beginner guide with safety tips and hazardous
oils to avoid.