I have been using essential oils now for over 13 years. Ironically, my very first experience with essential oils was through my husband. I used to suffer from severe migraines at least once a month, during one particular bout he handed me an amber glass bottle with German writing on it that happened to be peppermint essential oil. He told me when he was serving in Germany (as a missionary for our church) a German woman had given it to him when he had a headache. I always kid him that he was the one who turned me into the "weirdo" he thinks I am by introducing me to essential oils. I soon began my study and love for essential oils, fast forward to today and there is so much information available on what essential oils are, how to use them, and where you can purchase them. I love to see how they are becoming well known and used in many households around the world. For those that are not as familiar with essential oils or for those that need a refresher I am excited to bring you this essential oil series that will begin with a brief history of aromatics and essential oils. My purpose in doing this is to educate others on how important these oils should be to have in your home using them daily especially in the world we live in where the healthcare and economy are not very stable. The information contained in this series is a combination of a dozen different essential oils books, scientific studies, classes I have attended and most importantly 13 years of experience in using essential oils.
I would like to begin the first part of this series at the beginning with a brief history of aromatics and essential oils through time.
Virtually all of the ancient cultures utilized the healing and rejuvenating properties of aromatics and essential oils. Cultures such as Egypt, Rome and Greece used botanicals daily for body care, medicine and religious purposes. The Egyptians bathed frequently and anointed their bodies daily with botanicals to keep their skin healthy and radiant and also as a natural means of sunblock as well as using these ointments as medicine. Rome had it's public bath houses where people would bathe in aromatic waters, followed by a "perfumed" massage. Other cultures also revolved their daily lives around botanicals; Ayurvedic medicine is the oldest known form of medicine that was developed in India, China and Japan both used aromatics for religious rituals, funerals, hygiene, beauty and medicine. Africans even joined in by anointing their bodies with oils to soften the skin, protect it from the suns rays and in preparation for marriage.
We all know the story of the Three Wise Men bearing gifts of frankincense and myrrh to the Christ child. These were not only the most valuable of commodities they were also highly medicinal and used for spiritual purposes as well. The bible also mentions many other essences such as cedarwood, cinnamon, coriander, cypress, hyssop, juniper, mint, myrtle, pine, rose and spikenard. There are in fact over 180 references to essential oils in the Bible.
Once Rome fell so did their influence in Europe and pretty soon the daily use of aromatics and botanicals all but disappeared. Only a select few still used and valued these treasures, like the apothecaries (physicians), alchemists, glove makers (who scented their gloves) and other artisans that would use botanicals as aromatics to scent their wares. One thing that is interesting to note is when the plagues came through Europe these are the only set of people that seemed "immune" to the effects of the plague. The crusades brought a new light to aromatics, oils and ointments as the Middle Eastern countries had continued to explore them. Soon trade was established and Europe was soon using essential oils for beauty, health, hygiene and medicine. In the 16th century religion was shaping the climate of Europe and the rise of Puritanism saw the use of aromatics as vanity and even witchcraft. The use and knowledge of essential oils (and herbs for that matter) soon fell out of favor and use.
In the 1920's a French chemist by the name of Rene-Maurice Gattefosse was experimenting with perfumery in his laboratory when he was burned very badly. He thrust his hand in the nearest liquid which happened to be a vat of lavender essential oil and was surprised to find the pain had subsided and his hand healed very quickly with no scarring. From then on he spent his life researching the therapeutic side of essential oils and actually termed the phrase "aromatherapy". Europe once again began using essential oils for beauty, hygiene, health and medicine and America soon followed in the 1980's. Since then you can find hundreds of books on aromatherapy and essential oils as well as schools, classes and essential oil retailers. Knowledge on the therapeutic properties of essential oils is available at the click of a button and companies to purchase them from are just as numerous. Ever since I began my use of essential oils, the knowledge and use has seemed to flourish and grow as many people are finding that these simple essences have very powerful properties.
I’m Annie, a Mother of Influence and Master Herbalist. Welcome to my place where I share what I have learned of natural and frugal living, healthy eating and living, gardening, homeschooling,herbal crafting, preparing temporally and spiritually, and love for God and Country.
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