One of the latest fads, “Aromatherapy” has been around for more than 6000 years. It can be described as the use of buoyant plant oil, for the psychological and physical well-being of a person. In earlier days, use of aromatherapy was linked to mysticism, magic, and belief. However, the term aromatherapy was not used until 20th century. Read on to explore some more interesting information on the history of aromatherapy.
Interesting Information On Background & Origin Of Aromatherapy
The oldest use of Aromatherapy can be attributed to Chinese, as they are supposed to have been involved in the practice of burning incense for the well being of a person as well as to create harmony. It is believed that Egyptians were the ones who later on built a distiller that allowed the extraction of essential oils. Hippocrates, the first Egyptian to dismiss the widespread belief that illness was caused by supernatural powers, is believed to have studied and documented more than 200 herbs.
India and Persia are also supposed to have invented some kind of distillation procedure for essential oils, but very little is known about it. Even the Greeks are thought to have been very much inspired by the Egyptians and claimed to have recognized the medicinal and aromatic properties of these essential oils early on. However, in Greek Mythology, the perfumes and scents were highly attributed to gods and goddesses.
A major breakthrough in the use of aromatherapy came in 11th century, when a Persian person, named Avicenna, came out with a distiller, which allowed the plant vapor and steam to cool down more effectively. Avicenna's contribution helped therapists concentrate more on the benefits of essential oils. In 12th century, Germans discovered the process of distilling lavender, while the 13th century gave birth to pharmaceutical industry. With this, a new boom in the use of essential oil came into being.
In 14th century, the deadly pandemic called Black Death was at rise all over Europe and essential oils were used widely to make herbal preparations to save patients. By 15th century, an alchemist, known as Paracelsus, coined the term “essence”. He focused on using plants for medicine study and had a huge impact on the nature of alchemy. During 16th century, essences were so popular that they could be bought at an apothecary shop.
In 19th century, perfumery became a prosperous industry, with both women and men being equally enthralled by it. During this time, scientific methods were evolved to isolate the major constituents of essential oils. In 20th century, the isolation of major constituents of essential oils helped in the creation of synthetic chemicals and drugs. This discovery led to the rise of modern medicine and in turn, weakened the use of essential oil for medicinal purposes.
In the early years of 20th century, René-Maurice Gattefossé, a chemist from France, got intrigued with the use of essential oils for medicinal purposes. One day, the chemist burnt his hand by accident and plunged his arm into the nearest liquid, which was lavender essential oil. It helped him heal faster and without any scar. He is credited for bringing the medicinal uses of essential oils back into focus and also for coining the term “Aromatherapy”.
Many other physicists and biochemists, like Jean Valnet, Marguerite Maury, Robert B. Tisserand and Maria Treben, are recognized for their respective works in the field of aromatherapy. Many books were also published in this period, like, “History of Aromatherapy” and “Heath through God’s Pharmas”, written by Robert B. Tisserand and Maria Treben, respectively. Today, aromatic herbs are being used for cosmetic as well as therapeutic uses.