The History Of Aromatherapy
The use of aromatic oils in perfumes and in healing dates back over a thousand years, but the term aromatherapy did not appear until 1918, and is credited to Rene-Maurice Gattefosse. His accidental discovery of the use of plant oils for medicinal purposes came when he severely burned his arm. He pushed his arm immediately into the nearest liquid, which turned out to be lavender oil. His arm headed quickly and left no scar. This caused him to coin the term “aromatherapy.”
Previously, oils from plants were used mainly as perfumes but the history of aromatherapy also shows the Egyptians used the oils from Cedar wood and other plants, including clove and cinnamon as embalming fluid. During the 19th century, perfume was a growing industry and chemists worked to isolate the essential oils of plants and vegetables.
In the next century the different parts of essential oils were separated to make synthetic drugs with many believing that by separating them, the essential oils could have a profound effect on medicine. Along with the use of this new modern medicine, came synthetic fragrances and the perfume industry began to detract from the oils’ use in medicine. This slowed down the development of the therapeutic use of oils for the purposes of aromatherapy.
Additional History Of Aromatherapy Traced To China
It is believed that the Chinese culture embraced plant oils for their therapeutic value and burning incense, made from essential oils, was believed to offer healing properties as well as to create harmony. Different aromas were thought to help balance different emotions, much the same as we believe today. With a history of aromatherapy in the background, naturalists and holistic healers have a firm faith in its benefits.
India has used aromatherapy for centuries for therapeutic massage and still today, their traditional medical system uses fresh and dried herbs in treatment. The Greeks learned most of their medicine from the Egyptians and they used perfumed oils for cosmetics as well as for medicinal benefits.
The Romans were famous for their scented baths, with a massage with oils typically following, to reap the benefits of the aromatic oils. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, during what is called the Dark Ages, the history of aromatherapy almost vanished.
Throughout history, man has learned to use whatever was available in his environment to improve his health and lifestyle. Aromatherapy is one aspect of human evolution that has not only endured, but has matured over the years.