Use of plant oils, essences and extracts dates back several centuries. Arts, writings and other references from some of world’s most ancient civilizations such as Indian, Chinese, Persian, Egyptian etc. show that plant oils and essences were used and valued by healers as well as spiritual leaders (due to their energetic influences). For example ancient Egyptians were known to have used oils such as clove, eucalyptus and lavender to treat skin disorders. They were very known to have used various aromatic oils and essences for medical (healing) and cosmetic purposes. Also, when Tutankhamen’s tomb was opened, it contained many scent pots filled with exquisite essential oils such as of Frankincense and Myrrh.
Since ancient times, plant essences have been used for healing thru various means. The benefits of these essences have been experienced thru incense (refer- incenseandaromatherapy.com for more information on the use of incense in aromatherapeutic healing), perfumes and aromatic water, embalming ointments and culinary uses. There are many references in the bible to various plant essences and oils as well as their usage in healing rituals. These essences and oils were also used for their effect on the general sense of well-being.
The distillation process of obtaining essential oils has been used even before the 11th. century. It was in the 11th. century that a Persian philosopher called Avicenna reworked and finessed the distillation process to obtain purer oils of much superior quality. This Aromatherapeutic usage of plant essences and oils was probably introduced to Europe by the Romans. In 1957, a German physician Hieronymus Braunschweig is known to have published a list of 25 essential oils and their corresponding uses.
The term “Aromatherapy” was coined in much recent times by the French Chemist, Rene Gattefosse. He had an accident in his laboratory, where he badly burned his hand and to cool the skin and diminish the pain, he is said to have dipped his hand in a small vat of lavender essential oil. He was amazed at the speedy recovery of the burn as well as the fact that the skin healed very well with minimal scars. This also led him to study the “healing properties” of lavender and other “aromatic” plant essences oils, thus giving birth to “Aromatherapy” as we know it today.
Few other notable contributors in the modern Aromatherapy include two other French men- Goddissart who is known to have treated wounds, skin cancers and gangrene by using essential oils with a good success rate. The other French man is Dr. Jean Valnet is known to have used essential oils to heal wounds and reduce scarring in World War II. He later published his work and findings in 1964.
Sandhya Bhat: http://www.sandhya-bhat.com/; http://www.healingwitharoma.com/; http://www.knowincense.com/