For thousands of years aromatic plants and oils have been used as incense, perfumes and cosmetics, as well as for their medical and culinary value. Civilizations such as the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs have utilized and burned natural substances for purification. Even today, Native Americans and monastics perform the same rituals and ceremonies. They still use herbs and incense to purify their thoughts and cleanse their environment.
The most famous era associated with the first aromatic substances is that of the ancient Egyptian civilization. The architect, Impotep, is often heralded for implementing the use of oils, herbs and aromatic plants for medicinal purposes. Also, hieroglyphics, on temple walls, depict the use of essential oils for emotional cleansings as well. The Egyptians were believed to be experts of cosmetology and renowned for their herbal preparations and ointments. Fine oils and herbs were utilized as perfumes, employed in the embalming process, used in temple purification, rituals and even valued as a source of wealth.
Natural aromatics were highly prized in the Far East and constituted one of the main trade items of the ancient world. Even the Bible makes frequent references to the knowledge and use of precious resins and oils. Most people are aware that frankincense and myrrh, as treasures from the East, were offered as prestigious gifts to Jesus at His birth.
The value of herbs and oils continued to be known throughout history. Pharmacists frequently documented the medicinal properties and applications of oils. Some were highly valued as antiseptics. Often these oils were used to ward off plagues. Even in modern times, some of the uses of these natural substances prevail.
The term aromatherapy is said to have been initially coined in 1928 by the French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse. Consequently, he is regarded to be the Father of Aromatherapy. Today, the practice of aromatherapy has expanded beyond the field of herbal medicine and alchemy. In fact, it is fast approaching mainstream society. At the present time, one can go into any mall and find evidence of aromatherapy products in soaps, cosmetics, lotions and candles.
In actuality, essential oils are one of the great untapped resources of the world. Modern day research has now confirmed centuries of practical use of oils to treat illness and promote health. They can be used in aromatic baths, diffused, sprayed and mixed into creams and lotions. They are absorbed into the body through the hair follicles of the skin or travel through the nose into the nervous system. Essential oils enter and leave the body with great efficiency, leaving no toxins behind. Lastly, they can cleanse the air by altering the structure of the molecules.