History Of Essential Oils
Essential oils have been a staple in beauty routines across the world. These potent, yet fragrant oils are used for healing, beauty, grooming, and even promoting balance. Ancient civilizations used various oils to achieve naturally beautiful results.
A Brief History of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
Aromatic plants, essences and oils have been used for ages in:
- religious observances,
- beauty care,
- food preparation and preservation,
- and for perfumes.
Aromatic plants have also been the basis for herbal and botanical medicines and remedies for thousands of years. In fact, they’re the root of today’s pharmaceuticals.(Source)
The Egyptians are known for their innovative, and sometimes obnoxious grooming techniques. In 4500 BCE, they used a compilation of 16 oils and herbs called “Kyphi.”
Many of these oils were poured into wax cones and worn as headpieces. The idea was for the oil and wax to gradually melt throughout the night, leaving an alluring fragrance trailing behind the person wearing it.
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.(Source)
Not only did these oils serve as perfume, but they also regarded the use of aromatic oils to be spiritually enlightening. So much so, only priests could initially use them. As time went on, members of the high court like Pharaoh and Cleopatra were gifted with their specific blends.
The ancient Romans used essential oils in a more grandiose way. Popularized by their luxurious baths, the Romans mixed juniper, pine, and other extracted oils to further enhance their bathing experience. By mixing these oils with the heat surrounding the water, they were able to “soak in” the oil more efficiently.
This process helped to influence the modern day spa experience we see frequently. This practice was set aside only for the high class. In fact, the use of essential oils in this manner was associated with prestigious social status.
Indian practitioners, who popularized the medical term “Ayur Veda” are known for using essential oils as an antibiotic replacement. Much like the ancient Egyptians, they viewed these oils as sacred and philosophical.
The idea behind Ayurvedic medicine is to bridge the gap between healing and spirituality. Many institutions who practice this form of medicine still follow these ancient guidelines.
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