Essential oils, known in the past as aromatic oils, have been used for centuries by many different cultures around the world. Depending on the culture, their uses often varied from healing the sick or wounded to religious practices.
We have not been able to pinpoint exactly when these natural oils gained popularity as healing agents, but eventually the knowledge and effectiveness of essential oils in treating the sick spread throughout the world.
The overall history of the creation of essential oils actually goes back to pre-historic times as cave paintings discovered in the Dordogne region of France that date back nearly 20,000 years shows the use of medicinal plants and the oils they created for everyday use. Let's take a look at the history of essential oils in these countries: Egypt, China, India, Greece, Rome, France.
Recorded history and evidence have shown that the early Egyptians used aromatic oils as far back as 4500 B.C.E. They used perfumed oils, balsams, aromatic vinegars, scented barks, spices and resins in their everyday life.
They transformed plants into pastes, powders, oils, medicinal cakes, pills, suppositories, and ointments. They also used fragrances for religious purposes, dedicating specific fragrances to each deity and anointing statues with their chosen oil.
Myrrh and Cedar were used in the process of embalming and traces of these aromatic oils have been found on mummies throughout Egypt. Interestingly enough, despite the wealth of resources around them, the Egyptians never actually distilled their own oils and actually imported them from other places, even those of cypress and cedar.
One of the first publications on the use of essential oils was found in China between 2697-2597 B.C.E during the reign of Huang Ti, the Yellow Emperor. His famous book “The Yellow Emperor’s Book of Internal Medicine” contains many uses for aromatic oils and even today is considered a useful text by eastern medicine practitioners.
In today’s aromatherapy world, along with contributing the valuable historical plant medicine texts, China is one of the most prolific producers of essential oils.
Essential oils have been a core element of the Indian Ayurvedic health care system; a natural healing system blending spiritual, philosophical and practical elements. Indian medicine has a 3,000-year history of incorporating aromatic oils into their healing salves and potions. Some of their written book (Vedas) list over 700 substances including ginger, cinnamon, sandalwood and myrrh as effective healing agents. During the outbreak of the Bubonic Plague, or 'Black Death' as it was commonly called, their medical techniques, called Ayur Veda, were successfully used in the place of ineffective antibiotics.
The purpose of essential oils and aromatic plants were also believed to be a godly part of nature and this played a vital role in the philosophical and spiritual outlook of traditional Ayurvedic medicine.
Between 400-500 B.C.E. the Greeks started to record their knowledge of essential oils which came mostly from the Egyptians. The Greek physician Hypocrites (called the 'Father of Medicine' at the time) documented the effects of over 300 plants including cumin, saffron, thyme and peppermint. According to historical records, he fumigated the city of Athens with an aromatic oil saving the city’s inhabitants from a devastating plague.
The Romans were known for using perfumed oils on their bedding, bodies and clothing. They also used oils in baths and for massages. During the fall of the Roman Empire, Roman physicians brought books written by Hypocrites with them and these texts were later translated into Arabic, Persian and other languages.
Chemists were credited with discovering the antibacterial properties of essential oils in 1887. The modern term aromatherapy was coined by French chemist and perfumer Rene-Maurice Gattefosse. After burning his hand in a laboratory accident in 1910, he treated it with lavender essence, or lavender oil. He explained that after applying lavender, his pain diminished, the gas gangrene ended, and over time, his hand healed without infection.
Inspired by the results of Gattefosse’s experiments, Dr. Jean Valnet used essential oils to successfully treat the infections and wounds of soldiers during World War II. During the 1950s, Marguerite Maury began diluting essential oils in carrier oil for direct topical application and invented essential oil blends for specific health conditions.
Now, you should know some of the history of essential oils. It have not only stood the test of time, they have proven their efficacy and effectiveness on every level. With the renewed interest in essential oils, and resurgence in their use, there are many, many new clinical studies and publications documenting the efficacy and benefits.
Therefore, we hope that you can join me in using homasy E.O.. Prepare some of the most commonly used lavender essential oils, and you will soon discover its benefits.
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