History of Aromatherapy

History of Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the use of plant oils derived through various method of physical and chemical extraction for treatment of a variety of physical and psychological indications as well as to balance emotion, boost the immune system and to promote mental well-being.

When Did People Begin Using Essential Oils?

Anthropologists believe that primitive perfumery for cosmetic, medicinal and spiritual reasons began perhaps more than 4,000 years ago by the ancient Mesopotamians, Indians and the Chinese. There is evidence found in the archaeological digging sites of prehistoric peoples that indicates essential oils and other physical matter derived from plants and their seeds, leaves, flower and barks were burned, boiled or infused in to oils to be used in funerals, purification, ritualistic behavior and as decoration.

How Were Essential Oils First Used

In fact, traces of essential oils, still with faint scent detectable by the nose, were found in the tombs as well as clearly depicted in original paintings, pottery and artworks of ancient Egypt and elsewhere. Still other evidence indicates that juniper berries were used as an antiseptic by Germanic and early northern European tribal peoples. Finally, crude distillation equipment has been found and attributed to likely being invented by early shamans to capture the essence of cedarwood and other scents for spiritual use.

Later, Greeks and Romans, including the so-called “Father of Medicine” Hippocrates, practiced fumigations, studied the effects of essential oils on health and promoted their use for medicinal and therapeutic benefits. Some believed myrrh could be used to reduce swelling and as an anti-inflammatory.

In the 11th century the creation of a clever coiled cooling pipe by a Persian scientist allowed plant vapor and steam to be more effectively cooled and isolated leading to a wider discovery of new essential oils. Later in the 14th century, it is said that some people used herbal concoctions of distilled essential oils such as rosemary, clove and cinnamon for their believed antiseptic effects and potential ability to ward off disease such as the Black Plague.

History of Aromatherapy Info-graphic

Essential Oils Become Popular

However, it was not until the 18th and 19th centuries that perfumeries began to operate. People viewed perfumery as an art form and promoted the widespread use of plants to create scents thought to conjure beauty and allure.

Then, in 1928, the French chemist Gattefosse became interested in the use of essential oils for medicinal use after he accidentally discovered the healing effect of lavender oil mistakenly used to treat a burn caused in a laboratory experiment! It is said that he later went on to coin the term aromatherapy and write the first book dedicated to aromatherapy, essential oils and their health benefits.

Shortly afterward, with advances in modern chemistry, the knowledge of separating the constituents of essential oils developed much further setting the stage for the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries to create synthetic chemicals and drugs to mimic the effects of the natural plant materials.

Thereafter, many fake products, widely sold and used in modern society, have been developed with extra strong, ultra-stable and long-lasting aromas, but with absolutely none of the potential health merits. In 1977, the highly respected book “Art of Aromatherapy” was published and helped once again encourage the use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes and sparked a modern revival in their prevalence and use.

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History of Aromatherapy

 

40 thoughts on “History of Aromatherapy

  1. Dana Rodriguez says:

    I knew they had been used for a very long time but didn’t realize just how long. This is a really interesting post!

  2. LAC says:

    I have always appreciated and been impressed by the fact that essential oils have been used throughout history — they aren’t just a modern “fad.” And they wouldn’t have had such an extensive history if they didn’t do what they’re intended to do. They’ve stood the “test of time.”

  3. Rheea says:

    I already use essential oils for aromatherapy for my anxiety and stress, as well as tea tree oil for my skin ailments. This is a greater insight into one of the many avenues of the utilization of essential oils.

  4. Rheea says:

    I already use essential oils for aromatherapy for my anxiety and stress, as well as tea tree oil for my skin ailments. This is a greater insight into one of the many avenues of the utilization of essential oils.

  5. Gina Hernandez says:

    I have recently heard that essential oils in different combinations may help me with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. I love them all so need to learn which combinations will help with my illness.

  6. Heather Mills says:

    Being that essential oils have been around for thousands of years, I think it is safe to say that essential oils are a better and more natural way to healing as well as relaxation.

  7. Teresa Henson says:

    I’m a firm believer in aromatherapy. Aroma’s can do so much. Most of the “old time” remedies work just as good, if not better, than all the chemicals used to make medicine these days. I just turned on my oil burner. lol

  8. Teresa Henson says:

    I’m a firm believer in aromatherapy. Aroma’s can do so much. Most of the “old time” remedies work just as good, if not better, than all the chemicals used to make medicine these days. I just turned on my oil burner. lol

  9. Sue E says:

    People back then probably discovered a lot of medicinal ways to use plants and oils! It’s not like they could catch an Uber and go to the nearest pharmacy! Now science has its hands in everything. Plus their “meds” have more side effects than cures!! I pinned the History of Aromatherapy. Thank you for sharing!!

  10. Joyce Sinsley says:

    This information on “ The History of Aromatherapy “ is really interesting. I just ordered a diffuser from Organic Aroma with lavender scent for my daughter. Another daughter recommended this company.

  11. Joyce Sinsley says:

    This information on “ The History of Aromatherapy “ is really interesting. I just ordered a diffuser from Organic Aroma with lavender scent for my daughter. Another daughter recommended this company.

  12. Diana says:

    A great an interesting read. I’ve always loved the use of essential oils in natural home products and scents. Good to get some insight on some history.

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