The history of aromatherapy
Did you know the ancient Egyptians offered essential oils to their gods as gifts?
They even used them for cosmetics, medicinal purposes and even embalming. Servants were rewarded with essential oils, and from a medicinal point of view the first anaesthetics were derived from ancient Egyptian practices.
Also the ancient Greeks used aromatherapy to care for the body and aid with illness recovery! Hippocrates even used aromatic to attempt to calm the plague in Athens. This knowledge was documented and then passed onto the Romans.
We know from history that the Romans enjoyed Roman baths & spas, there is evidence that aromatherapy was used in this practice too- both for cleansing and massage.
AD900 is especially important as this is when Avicenna can be credited for the first distillation of essential oils, and he published many works on the use of plants & their healing properties.
However, in the 19th century as scientific knowledge developed- with the use of lead, mercury, opium and cocaine becoming popular medicinal treatments there was a natural decline in the use of nature and aromatherapy as a choice of therapy.
However in the 20th century there was a huge resurgence of the use of aromatics & essential oils, particularly in France. This was particularly due to a chemist named Rene Maurice Gattefosse. He had an incident with a cat of hot lavender oil, and subsequently gained a rather large burn, however he noted the healing properties of lavender & in particular its pain relieving qualities.
This subsequently encouraged him to research aromatherapy and his first book was published in 1937, and the French resurgence of aromatherapy continued as in 1950 Dr Jean Valnet was inspired to publish further books on aromatherapy due to his use of it in the treatment and recovery of World War two soldiers.
Maurgerite Maury, a chemist was also conducting research in the 1950s. She was not directly involved in the medical field however she is thought to be the first person outside that field to explore the penetration of essential oils into the skin; particularly through massage therapy and her closely related to that of Gattefosse.
In our current world aromatherapy is labelled as a complementary therapy, research rials & clinical trials are consistently being produced on the use of aromatherapy and its safety. It is even now used In the NHS as a complementary therapy, particularly advocated by many midwives.
In legislation aromatherapy comes under the House of Lords 2000 report as a classification of complementary & alternative therapies. It is described as a supportive therapy used in conjunction with conventional healthcare but is recognised as requiring less training than practices such as acupuncture. Therefore, aromatherapy falls into the same category as yoga, reiki, reflexology & counselling.
Aromatherapy can be defined as a manual therapy, a pharmacological therapy, energy based therapy & a psychological therapy.
Now how fascinating is all that?
Love Lucy Xx