History of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

Throughout history, all around the world, plant extracts, herbs and oils have been used for their medicinal powers. As long as 40,000 years ago it is thought that Native Australians used natural remedies.

The ancient Egyptians used aromatic oils for medicine and cosmetics, their dead Pharaohs being embalmed in exotic oils. The Romans and Ancient Greeks loved to use aromatic oils, particularly in their bath houses, where they were used on the advice of the famous "Father of Modern Medicine" Hippocrates (460BC), who advocated that "the way to good health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day".

The "Perfumes of Arabia" were first discovered by western man and brought back to Europe by the Crusaders, where they became popular and fashionable with the aristocracy.

During the Middle Ages the antiseptic properties of Essential oils made them a useful aid to the doctors of that time. It is said that some doctors carried these antiseptic and aromatic oils in the handles of their walking sticks, which they held to their noses whilst visiting patients. The re-discovery of the properties of essential oils prompted the beginning of scientific research during this era.

What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are highly concentrated volatile aromatic substances extracted from a single plant part. for example, the petals of the rose and jasmine, the leaves of the rosemary bush, the wood of the sandalwood, the rind of the lemon and orange. These oils are often referred to as the hormones or life force of the plant.

Essential oils are used in aromatherapy, a term which was coined early last century at term which simply means 'therapy using aromas', by a famous French chemist, Dr. R.H. Gattafosse who was involved in considerable scientific research in to the properties of essential oils.

How Essential Oils Work

Essential oils enter the body and have their effect by two routes, the nose and the skin.

How do you feel when you smell the sweet scent of a garden? Do you open up your lungs and take a deep breath? When you enter a hospital or sick room, does your breathing become shallower? Does the whiff of a long-forgotten scent bring back sensations and feelings from the past? The sense of smell has profound effect, influencing us even when we are not necessarily aware.

When inhaling the oils, tiny particles are taken to the roof of the nose where the olfactory system is located. Here the cilia (thin hairs) transmit information to the olfactory bulb that is situated behind the eyes. Smell signals are then decoded and sent on throughout the body.

It is now a scientifically-acknowledged fact that toxic material can penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream. However, it is also a fact that essential oils have this same ability. Particularly when blended with a carrier oil. The essential oils have a tiny molecular structure, which is minute enough to permeate the skin via the hair follicles and pores. From there the molecules are carried through the bloodstream via tiny carrying capillaries.

In this commercialized and polluted world, essential oils offer a cost-effective way to use remedies which have been in existence since ancient times through the tools supplied to you from Mother Nature herself. Most importantly, they allow you to be in control of the substances you put into, and onto, your own body.

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