History Of Aromatherapy

The history of essential oils is a very long one, going all the way back to the ancient Egyptians and beyond, confirming just how valuable and precious these oils really were, and still are. The word Aromatherapy came along a lot later but is still being practiced today, and is becoming ever more popular for many people all over the world.

A vial of essential oil next to some dried flowers

Aromatherapy - The therapeutic use of essential oils from plants for the improvement of physical emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years by many religions, cultures and civilizations for many different reasons.

The most ancient civilizations used these oils, and many believed that burning plants, herbs, flowers, and aromatic woods in temples didn't just purify the atmosphere, but would also please the gods.

Trevi Fountain in Rome

The Romans absolutely loved aromatic oils.

They loved Rose above all for wine making, perfumes and their all famous baths. They were known to fill swimming baths and fountains with Rose water.

Egyptian temple carvings.

The ancient Egyptians used aromatic oils in healing ointments and their mummification process. Perfume containing these oils were also used as they are today.

Queen Cleopatra was said to have bathed several times a day with essence of Rose and Orange Blossom.

An illustration of Queen Elizabeth First

In Elizabethan times, in Queen Elizabeth the First's reign, perfumed gloves were all the fashion.

The queen even had her own Stillroom for distilling oils to make royal perfumes.

Throughout history, aromatic herbs have been used to combat disease during epidemics, such as the Plague in the mid-1300s.

...the only people to survive the disease were people working in the field of aromatics and perfumery...

Herbs such as rosemary, pine and juniper were burned, and pomanders worn to keep contagion away. Essential oils have long been associated with healing so throughout the ages, aromatic baths, massages and inhalation have been used to rid all kinds of health problems.

One remarkably interesting report that was documented during the time of The Black Death, was that the only people to survive the disease were the people working in the field of aromatics and perfumery, and this was probably due to the antiseptic properties in the essential oils themselves.

In the 1920s, a French chemist called Rene Gattefosse brought the healing benefits of oils to the attention of the orthodox scientific world. Up to that point the benefits of these oils were ignored, and preference was given to the synthesis of more powerful drugs in the lab.

...he burned his arm badly and plunged it into a vat of lavender oil. The result was, to his delight, that his arm healed quickly with no scarring...

Gattefosse had a family perfume business, and it is said that whilst experimenting in his lab he burned his arm badly and plunged it into a vat of lavender oil, causing any swelling and inflammation to reduce rapidly. The result was, to his delight, that his arm healed quickly with no scarring. This was what inspired Gattefosse to devote much time researching essential oils and their medical application, particularly in relation to their benefit on the skin.

Dried lavender in an old metal spoon on a wooden table

In the late 1930s he produced a book called "Aromatherapy", the name he used for describing the healing benefits of essential oils is still used to this day.

A french army doctor, Jean Valnet read Gattefosse's research papers and was so interested in the subject that he began his own clinical research.

Valnet used the oils on injured soldiers as antiseptics and wound healers, and was so impressed by their effects that he went on to experiment with treating the emotional or psychological problems of war veterans, whilst recording his findings and writing extensively about aromatherapy.

In 1964, Jean Valnet's "Practice of Aromatherapy" was published and is now a standard text for all professional aromatherapists.

Jasmine flowers in a pestle and mortar next to some old books

However, the practice of aromatherapy as it is today, using essential oils with massage for health and well-being was popularised by an Austrian biochemist, Marguerite Maury who was married to a homeopath. She was particularly interested in the healing and rejuvenating properties of essential oils and carried out extensive research programmes on the effectiveness of oils when absorbed through the skin.

Maury also went on to write about essential oils and published "La Capital Jeunesse" in 1961, which has been reprinted and translated into English as "The Secret of Life and Youth".

Aromatherapy has come a long way and we are learning more and more about essential oils and their benefits all the time. Products available for home aromatherapy include Candles, Diffuser Blends, Wax Melts, Reed Diffusers and many more.

How are Essential oils made? Learn more.

Or head on over to my shop for a collection of natural scented candles and luxury home fragrances that have been made in my own home.

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