Aromatherapy is one of those super popular alternative treatments right now. It is right in the mainstream of several disciplines, including both the health and the beauty industry. Naturally, there is a reason for this. Aromatherapy not only works, but it works in the most pleasant manner. I can’t imagine that there is a person on earth who doesn’t like a beautiful aroma, and the greatest scents of the world are infused with the numerous essential oils that are part of the wonder of aromatherapy. So, where did aromatherapy come from? How and when did it get its beginnings?
The history of the use of natural essential (volatile, natural oils derived from plants and flowers) goes back much farther than written history. In fact, although the term aromatherapy is new, the practice of using essential oils to heal people is a practice that has been used by every recorded ancient history, including that of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Indians, and the Chinese. Even the ancient Aztecs from South America have been found to have used essential oils in healing, and had extensive knowledge on the subject. In fact, the use of aromatherapy goes back much farther than the 6000 years of recorded history that documents it. In fact there are some historians who claim the use of essential oils for healing has been practiced for 20,000 years, and others claim the use of aromatic essential oils as far back as 40,000 years ago! We know this because, even when the ancient people were drawing and writing about its use, it was clear that this ancient medicinal discipline was one they were expert in and that there were certain people specialized in the use of such essential oils. It was an established practice, even then. In fact, their use has been mentioned in every religious text ever to have been written, including the ancient Jewish scriptures, the Bible, and the Qur’an, along with Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, and others.
The ancient Egyptians and others developed methods of distillation in order to extract the volatile essential oil from the plants and flowers. Since essential oils are mostly the volatile (easily evaporated) oils which are like the plants “hormones”, they would easily be collected through this and other methods. Rose water and orange blossom water are two derivatives of the distillation process. So, when you use them to flavor your foods (they are very popular flavorings, particularly here in the Middle East) you are actually using aromatherapy in your food!
Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine) was well known for his practice of healing with essential oils and plants derivatives. During the Dark and Middle Ages, particularly in Europe, the use of essential oils was a part of every day life. This was never truer than when the plague broke out in Europe. People used essential oils to stave off the devastating disease that was rampant and lethal. It is said that the perfumers (who had constant, daily contact with essential oils) were practically immune to the plague!
In fact, it was only at the dawn of what is considered “modern medicine” that the use of essential oils for healing
The modern day revival of aromatherapy in the West occurred when a chemist by the name of Rene Maurice Gattefosse began using essential oils to cure various ailments in the 1930’s, and it is he who referred to it as “aromatherapy”. He began is journey into the amazing uses of essential oils when he accidentally burned his hand and instinctively plunged it into pure lavender essential oil. He soon discovered the amazingly fast healing qualities of the oil, when his burn healed in record time, and with absolutely no scarring.
In the years following, aromatherapy has taken off, and in the past 20 years or so, its use has skyrocketed. In fact, there is a little known fact about aromatherapy. This quaint alternative healing method was extensively used by medics in World War II, particularly by a French surgeon called Jean Valnet. He used essential oils as strong antiseptics, to ward of infections and the spread of disease, which was rampant at that time. A Frenchwoman called Margaret Maury (who was a biochemist) began using essential oils combined with gentle massage for healing purposes (which is how many modern aromatherapists practice aromatherapy) as it was found to be a very effective method for introducing the essential oils in the bodily systems. There have been several studies that show that application directly to the skin is the ideal method for the use of essential oils, and that they are readily absorbed and miraculously seem to go directly to the needy organ, bypassing other organs that are not in need of the benefits of the oils.
At this point in history, aromatherapy is at its peak, and it shows no signs of slowing down. There is a reason for that. It works and it works well! Aromatherapy is used for beautification and healing purposes right up to the present day. Many claim that there are some essential oils that are so beneficial to the skin that they are considered virtual “fountains of youth”, for example frankincense, rose, and neroli oils. I might add that these are three of the most expensive oils in the world.
From a medical point of view, the use of essential oils is often far more beneficial than any drug that the doctor can give you. It has been documented that there have been people who have had heart attacks, and were clinically dead, who were revived by the use of rosemary oil on the heart reflex of the feet, combined with vigorous reflexology! Now that is amazing!
Presently aromatherapy is being extensively practiced in clinics, hospitals, and salons all over the world, and is particularly popular in England and other European countries. In fact, there is practically no country in the world where aromatherapy is not being practiced in one form or another. That is certainly a tribute to aromatherapy’s value from a medicinal and beautification point of view. If essential oils didn’t work, people would surely not be using them from the days of ancient history right up to the modern ages, would they? If you are suffering from an ailment or disease, or if you just wish to enhance your skin, try aromatherapy for a most effective treatment.
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