Essential oils have taken a journey through the ages. Dependent on the culture, essential oils have been applied for religious, healing, and therapy purposes. Let’s take a look at how essential oils have evolved throughout different times in our history.
As early as the 4500 B.C.E., Egyptians were using essential oils, aka aromatic oils, as part of their everyday lives. The oils and pastes from plants were used to produce cosmetics, ointments, and fragrances in the form of pills, powders, suppositories, medicinal cakes, and ointments. At one point, the use of essential oils were limited to only priests – as they believed essential oils were a necessary element to be at one with the gods. Each deity had a specific fragrance and their statues were anointed with these exclusive oils.
China saw a prevalence of essential oil use during Huang Ti’s reign during 2697-2597 B.C.E. Primarily used for medicinal purposes, Huang Ti outlined the uses in his famous book “The Yellow Emperor’s Book of Internal Medicine”. Did you know that this book is still considered a great source of information by essential oil practitioners in eastern medicine?
The Greeks began using essential oils at about the 400 B.C.E. time and actually adopted its use from the Egyptians. The famous Greek physician Hypocrites, a.k.a. the Father of Medicine, created a study of over 300 plants – including thyme, saffron, marjoram, cumin, peppermint – and documented the effects of each. He documented in his research that a “perfumed bath and a scented massage everyday is the way to good health”. We definitely agree.
In Persia, a child prodigy named Ali-Ibn Sana, a.k.a. Avicenna the Arab, became a renowned physician at the young age of 12. He wrote several books documenting the properties and effects of 800 plants. This young prodigy also discovered the method of distilling essential oils, a method that is still being used in today’s practice!
French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse coined aromatherapy, or aromatherapie. He founded aromatherapy based on research of antiseptic properties of essential oils. He then later wrote the book “Aromatherapie” that describes essential oils and the healing capabilities of each – which became an influential piece for medical practice in France.