History of Aromatherapy


The history of Aromatherapy is not a new concept. It dates back to over 5000 years and has been a trusted practice that spans throughout the world. There are many countries that have contributed to this discipline of aromatherapy and dates as far back to 1200 BC where, in the book of Exodus, the recipe for holy anointing oil (myrrh, cinnamon and calamus, mixed with olive oil) is disucssed (Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, K. Keville and M. Green). According to the Institute of Holistic Phyto-Aromatherapy (2017), Greece and Rome’s contributors included Theopharastus whereby a formal study focused on oils and their therapeutic properties and Greek medicine believed in the notion of mental, emotional and physical balance. Rene’-Maurice Gattefosse’, a French chemist and perfumer perfected the distillation process of essential oils and after WWI, he began to investigate the medicinal potential of essential oils and their chemical components. In 1937, one of his last 2 works were published whereby the term of Aromatherapie” was first used (Essential Oils, 2nd Ed, J. Rhind). During the 1960’s French doctor Jean Valnet, an Army surgeon during WWII, utilized essential oils on soldiers’ wounds, burns and found that fragrances were successful in treating psychiatric problems (Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, K. Keville and M. Green). And finally, in 1977, Robert Tisserand published the book of “The Art of Aromatherapy”, strongly encouraged by the work of Valnet and Gattesfosse’ and included the medicinal approach for the “lay” person who could then explore the use of essential oil application without being under the care of a physician (Institute of Holistic Phyto-Aromatherapy, 2017). 


 The contributions from ancient times combined with the research and work conducted by the early pioneers led to the birth of modern aromatherapy as we know it today. These historical developments have created diverse classifications of aromatherapy to include, Medicinal & Therapeutic Aromatherapy, Energetic & Esoteric Aromatherapy, Holistic Aromatherapy and Psychotherapeutic Study of Fragrance (Institute of Holistic Phyto-Aromatherapy, 2017). 


What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is the extraction of essential oils via aromatic plants that help promote a person’s physical, mental and emotional balance.  Aromatherapy has been utilized since ancient times in numerous countries for purposes of religious rituals, meditation, medicinal purposes and behavior stability (Institute of Holistic Phyto-Aromatheray). Due to the aromas/scents of aromatic plants, the history of aromatic plants was researched by an array of theorists, scientist and chemists, herbalists who concluded over time, that aromas offered therapeutic properties via its odors and that the smell of the aromas had a direct affect on the brain.


Aromatherapy essential oils are volatile and have chemical constituents that offer therapeutic properties that offer an alternative to and/or compliment  western civilization medicine. Such therapeutic constituents help to ward off insects, elevate mood, stabilize abnormal behavior, calm nerves and anxiety, insomnia, ward off bacteria and viruses and can be used as natural cleaning aids.


Aromatherapy essential oils are extracted from trees and its bark, wood, gum/resin, flowers, roots, fruits and rhizomes. Essential oils are extracted via use of steam or water distillation, cold pressed or dry pressed methods (Institute of Holistic Phyto-Aromatherapy, 2017). 


Aromatherapy essential oils can be applied in various ways that include, inhalation, topical/external use and via a diffuser. Do not take essential oils orally/internally unless under the supervision of an Aromatherapist that has been trained to practice Aromatic Medicine. 


Aromatherapy is nature in a bottle and allows practitioners the opportunity to help people achieve an emotional and balanced well being, therapeutic effects on the physical and mental well-being and an alternative or compliment to western civilization medicine.

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