The term Aromatherapy was not coined until the 1930’s, but the history of Aromatherapy stretches back thousands of years. Here are a few interesting facts you might not know about essential oils!
Note: You should never ingest essential oils without specific instruction from a trained and qualified specialist.
1. The Middle East and China have left us with the best records of essential oil use. The “Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine”, China’s oldest surviving medical book, lists over 300 different plants and their medicinal uses. Egyptians are credited with developing one of the first distillation machines to extract oils from plants.
2. Arabia was the first to develop perfumes and were used to aid in healing of injuries. Soldiers returning from the Crusades brought back the use of essential oils and fragrances to Europe.
3. When the Plague hit, millions of people died. During the times of plague, writings describe the use of aromatic plants to combat the deadly disease. Massive fires were built in strategic areas in towns and villages and aromatic plants such as juniper or cypress where thrown on the fire to “cleanse” the air. It was reported that the only people to not succumb to the plague were workers involved in perfumery and aromatics, most likely due to the highly antiseptic properties of essential oils.
4. During the Dark Ages, Aromatherapy was banned by the Catholic Church and forced to go underground. The Catholic Church believed that the only way to cure illness was not through natural remedies but by praying and blood-letting. The ban lasted for centuries.
5. Captain James Cook first mentioned tea tree oil in 1772 during his voyage to Botany Bay, Australia. Captain Cook watched the indigenous Bundjalung people of eastern Australia use tea tree oil to treat cuts and wounds. They also made a tea to help with healing. He and his crew made a tea from the leaves to prevent scurvy and then to brew a type of beer.
6. The actual term "aromatherapy" first originated in 1937 when French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse invented the word after a burn incident spurred his curiosity about the healing power of essential oils. On July 25, 1910, René-Maurice was working in his lab when an explosion occurred. He wrote this about the event;
“After a laboratory explosion covered me with burning substances which I extinguished by rolling on a grassy lawn, both my hands were covered with a rapidly developing gas gangrene. Just one rinse with lavender essence stopped the ‘gasification of the tissue’. This treatment was followed by profuse sweating and healing began the next day.” Gattefossé’s Aromatherapy.
Gattefosse became the "Father" of Aromatherapy, dedicating his life to the research of essential oils.
7. French surgeon Jean Valnet used essential oils to help heal soldiers' wounds in World War II, proving the medical benefits of aromatherapy. Dr. Valnet was the first to record the specific properties, indications, and dosages of essential oils useful in medical practice.
8. Research in Ireland has found a few essential oils to be beneficial in fighting the superbugs that are becoming a problem in today's hospitals. Both Cinnamon and thyme essential oils have been shown to be effective in killing Staphylococcus germs on surfaces.
9. 66 Lbs of Eucalyptus leaves are needed to make 4 cups of Eucalyptus oil. In comparison, one of the most expensive oils, Bulgarian Rose Otto, takes on average 500 pounds of rose petals to make 1 ounce of rose oil. A 5 mL bottle of high quality Rose Otto should cost between $150 and $180.
I've been a Licensed Massage Therapist since 2006. In my free time I enjoy hiking with my husband and dog. I also have a passion for cooking, baking and gardening.