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Monday, October 01, 2007

A Brief History of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is a Greek word, aroma means fragrance and therapy means treatment and the term "aromatherapie" was created by French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse in about 1928.

The history of aromatherapy dates back to about 4500 BC and there is evidence in the Bible of the use of Essential Oils for therapeutic and religious purposes (Frankincense, Ravensara and Spikenard).

There are historical evidences to prove that essential oils were used by Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Persians. In ancient Egypt the essential oils were used for mummification and for embalming the dead bodies and the plant oils were also used for mental relaxation and therapeutic use.

Hippocrates, referred to as the father of medicine, used and experimented with herb oils to relieve pain and some ailments. He promoted the beneficial effects of herb oils by advocating oil baths, oil massages and cosmetics prepared from essential oils. There is a consensus that the use of herbal oils first originated in Egypt where they used the herb oil for mummification and embalming the dead. Thereafter, it was borrowed by Greeks and from which the Romans learnt it to treat wounded gladiators.

The Romans were good chemists and they knew the art of extracting oils from plants and flowers. They made new composition of oils by importing raw material from east India and Arabia. The most important discovery made in Persian civilization was steam distillation of plants which produced true essential oils.

Earlier methods used only produced herbal water. Ibn Sina was the man who invented a pipe in which the plants were steam distilled to create a medicine. He was also the first one to distill alcohol and perfume.

There is evidence in an old Chinese medical book about the use herbs for the treatment of various ailments. The uses of herbal medicines by the Chinese were of the same period as the Egyptians.

In the nineteenth century many industries were set up which produced essential oils and they were marketed as perfumes and cosmetics.

The history of aromatherapy can be noted in India in the form of treatment called ayurveda, which is about three thousand years old. Even today this form of medicine is very popular. Kerela, a state of India is very famous for producing medicinal plants and essential oils. The medicinal qualities of these herbs are well known and attract people from all over the world for treatments of various diseases.

Aromatherapy is a natural alternative therapy using essential oils, also known as Aromatherapy Oils. As you can see this practice has been used for thousands of years and is still extremely popular in today's society.

- Thanks to Louise Smith for this article.

*The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

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