Brief History of Aromatherapy

bigstock-aromatherapy-treatment-63098854Brief History of Aromatherapy and the ways we still use Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is an ancient art that has its written roots in Egypt, following behind them are the ancient Chinese, Greece, Roman and Native American. All cultures since the prehistoric times have used plants and herbs in one fashion or another for healing and religious rituals. Smashing the different parts of plants and flowers has been the medicine of many of our ancestors. Different parts of the plants are used for different medicinal and religious purposes, roots, flowers; stems all have a different outcome.

Perfumers, spiritual advisors, healers, and high priests (Shamans) were some of the first people to use aromatherapy. The word per fume is Latin and means, “through smoke”. Incents and aromatic gums gathered from trees and plant parts where used (as we use smudge today) for medical, religious and ritual services. The Ebers Papyrus, is perhaps the earliest historical record dating back to 1500 B. C. documenting over 800 different herbal remedies and healing practices. The process of embalming and mummification was developed by the Egyptians. Frankincense, myrrh, galbanum, cinnamon, cedar wood, juniper berry and spikenard are all known to have been used at some stage to preserve the bodies. Royalty and the families associated with them used many of these on their way to the afterlife.

The Egyptians also used makeup eyeliner, eye shadow and other cosmetics. Most of the cosmetics were a formula of goat fat and herbs. The Egyptians also favored ointment and perfumes for nails, hair and skin (these may have been similar aromatherapy formulas that were used in the temples and for healing.

Asclepius was a Greek physician that used herbs and oils in his work as well as Hippocrates, “Father of Medicine”. Hippocrates used physical-therapy, baths, massage along with herbs and aromatherapy. Hippocrates practice considered the body as a whole and therefore treated the body with movement, massage and aromatherapy.

The Romans used aromatherapy to clean temples and public buildings. They used perfumes regularly on their body as did the Egyptians.

One physician in France, Dr. Moncière, during World War I used essential oils extensively for their antibacterial and wound-healing properties.

In 1907 the father of aromatherapy, René-Maurice Gattefossé, Ph.D., Documented his use of aromatherapy. Dr, Gattefosse collaborated with Jean Valnet, MD.  During World War II, Dr. Valnet used essential oils on soldiers. The therapeutic results well surpassed what the doctor expected saving the lives of many soldiers.

Dr. Paul Belaiche and Dr. Jean Claude Lapraz, expanded on Dr. Valnet’s work.  They clinically investigated the antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties in essential oils. It is due to Dr Belaiche and Claude that essential oils have regained their prominence in healing.

Today we use aromatherapy for mood elevators, decrease stress and tension for our minds and our bodies, decrease swelling, antibacterial antivirus anti-fungal, just because we like a smell and for many other reasons. Aromatherapy can be purchased anywhere the real reason you are using it is important. Medical grade essential oils are important for direct contact with skin for burns and the medical properties. When using them as aromatherapy or smell therapy, I still like the therapeutic grade many people do not feel the necessity.

The ancients mixed flowers and other plant parts not excluding saps with oil to create balms and ointments. Resins and oils were used in religion ritual. Today aromatherapy is used either by diffusion (smells in the air) applied in cosmetics, body warps, sprays or applied in massage oils to the skin. The interesting part of this wonderful art is that one can use it for emotional up lift, decrease in virus, depending on the oil that one uses the result is different. An important aspect of aromatherapy is that our sense of smell is connected to our brain by way of Cranial Nerve I. The olfactory nerve is cranial nerve. Our sense of smell is connected with memories and emotions. If you are working on an issues of any kind find a therapist that can help you.

Categories: Aromatherapy


Ellen Delaney
Ellen has been has been educating massage therapist since 1990. She also taught nurses and Sunday school before moving on to a more wholistic approach to living and teaching.
Ellen has a gift for teaching her passions are brought to her writing, art work and the class room. A love of outdoors, trees, water and flowers nature within and out.

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