Origins of Aromatherapy

What is aromatherapy? It’s the use of essential oils, little bottles with natural healing power and a strong scent, that are extracted from different parts of plants. Everything is used including the berries, leaves, bark, flowers, and fruit.

Aromatherapy has been used for at least five thousand years. Evidence points to Hippocrates himself having used essential oils for scented massage. The use of aromatherapy began in the times of the ancient Egyptians. Originally they used essential oils for not only healing, but in their embalming process as well. The ancient Chinese used aromatherapy as well. A book from 2700 BC was written about the experiments of Shen Nung, an Emperor of China said to have tried over three hundred plants and herbs until one finally killed him.

The Greeks and then the Romans began using plants with unusual healing properties. They didn’t use the term aromatherapy, but it was nonetheless the same process. Then came the Middle Ages and it all disappeared. People using aromatherapy were branded as witches. The only ones that continued their use were those hidden away in the privacy of the monasteries.

The use of aromatherapy was resurrected around eight hundred years ago in Europe and then spread to North America when man began to inhabit the continent. They were surprised to see that the people native to the land already used their own type of aromatherapy.

It wasn’t until the 1930s that a french chemist began to use the word aromatherapy. Rene Maurice Gattefosse badly burned his arm and thinking he was putting it in water, actually submerged his arm into a tub of lavender. The amazing thing was that the lavender took away the pain of his burns and healed them without leaving any scars. Aromatherapy is so useful that during World War ll they used essential oils as antiseptics.

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