Greetings, essential oil lovers!
By now, you have probably opened up a bottle or two of essential oil, and you’re discovering your favorite ways to use them in daily life.
Have you ever wondered, “How did we get to this? How long have people been using essential oils?”
You’re in luck! Today, I have answers for curious minds.
THE HISTORY OF AROMATHERAPY: WHEN DID IT BEGIN?
The term “aromatherapy,” as defined by NAHA (National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy), is “the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize, and promote the health of the body, mind and spirit.” Basically, using aromatherapy helps to support overall wellness.
Although the term “aromatherapy” wasn’t used until the 20th century, the use of aromatic plants dates back thousands of years. The use of essential oils, specifically, dates back nearly 1,000 years, with the invention of modern steam distillation credited to Avicenna around the year 1000 AD.
EARLY METHODS OF AROMATIC EXTRACTION
This doesn’t mean that aromatic plants weren’t used and loved by many prior to this. Before the advent of steam distillation, aromatic plants were often infused in a vegetable oil or animal fat to extract some of the aromatic properties, burned as incense, or even simply infused in water. These aromatic infusions were used for anointing, perfumery, rituals, and of course, overall wellness.
Hippocrates (460-377 BC), the father of modern medicine, said that the way to health was with an aromatic bath and a scented massage every day. Cleopatra (69-30 BC) was famous as a lover of perfumes. Again, these were likely oil infusions.
MODERN-DAY ESSENTIAL OIL USAGE
As we move into the 21st Century, we see more and more people wanting to take their wellness into their own hands. We’re all looking for simple, cost-effective choices that can have a big impact on the wellbeing of our families. With the increased availability of information, we have seen many start to seek out essential oils for their wide range of benefits.
This is just a brief glimpse into the rich history of essential oils. Do you have any fun facts about the history of essential oils? Share them in the comments below!