A Brief History of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy has many followers, but its history and use goes back 1000’s of years to ancient civilisations. In more recent time the French chemist – Rene Maurice Gattefosse, has been credited with the ‘re-discovery’ of the value of plant extracts.
Aromatic plants and oils are used by different cultures all over the world. They are used in oils, perfumes, in incense, in religious ceremonies, in cooking and in medicine. Many of the medicinal products that are in use in our modern world are originally derived from plants and herbs, all be it that today it is the synthesised equivalent that is used by the pharmaceutical companies rather than the natural product.
Aromatherapy has been used by ancient civilisations for thousands of years.
The Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Indians all used essential oils for their well-being. Hippocrates – the Father of Modern Medicine is reported to have regularly used aromatherapy baths and oils. When a Roman doctor – Discorides in 50A.D decided to further the work of Hippocrates, the result was a 5 volume book called the ‘De Materia Medica’. This book gave a detailed outline of the healing properties of plants and how they affected the body.
However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that Europe began to reap the benefits of essential oils, when a French chemist – Rene Maurice Gattefosse, having burnt his hand reputedly plunged it into the nearest cool liquid, which happened to be a beaker of Lavender oil. He subsequently found that not only did the wound heal quickly without infection, but neither did it leave a scar. It was he who coined the phrase ‘Aromatherapy’ derived from ‘Aroma’ meaning perfume or smell and ‘Therapy’ meaning treatment.
More recently Robert Tisserand pushed Aromatherapy to the fore, and now there are many books, Aromatherapists and suppliers all able to help with many of today’s ills, aches and pains, stress and of course the simple pleasure of relaxation. Nature always has a way of trying to heal, whether it’s the body or the mind and Aromatherapy can certainly help.
Aromatherapy can be used in many different ways, the most common and popular being aromatherapy massage, but you can also use essential oils in baths, or in a diffuser. This method uses a ring around a light bulb to which the oils are added and as they evaporate they are dispersed into the room or a similar arrangement using a special candle holder with bowl above. This has a the added benefit of relaxing by candle light. You can also use hot water to disperse the oils into the air by putting a few drops into a bowl of hot water, ideal for using on babies and young children with coughs and colds – do keep the hot water out of reach!