The history of Aromatherapy can be traced back to 4000 BC. The first known use of aromatic oil is believed to be carried out by Egyptians. Ancient Egyptians used to burn incense made from herbs, woods and spices to please their god. Eventually these aromatic plants were developed into medicines, perfumes and cosmetics.
In the period between 18th and 25th century BC (1539-657BC), Egyptians started using these aromas as medicine and perfumes and Egyptian perfumery become famous in the whole Middle East. These were considered to be the finest perfumery found in the world. It is said that in 48BC after conquering Egypt when Julius Caesar returned home with Cleopatra, they were welcomed by tossing perfume bottles. Such was the reputations of those perfumes. Perfumed oils like Cedar, Frankincense and Myrrh were used by them to preserve the bodies of the royal family.
These valuable herbs used for perfumes were traded across China, Babylon, Greece, Rome, Asia and Persia by Arab merchants. Gradually other countries like China, India and many other countries of Asia and North Africa stated using many herbs as medicines and oils like Sandalwood and Patchouli. As Egyptian empire declined around 300 BC, Europe became the center of these Aroma techniques. These aromatic herbs steadily evolved into a scientific system of medicine and began to be used as a system of healing.
During 1200 BC, the earliest Greek physician named Asclepius used these herbs combined with surgery. He made such a huge mark that he began to known as the God of Healing in Greek mythology. Greeks and Romans made good use of these medicinal herbs for Aromatic oil. His method of treatment employed physical therapies, massage, baths or internal use of herbal medicine like fennel, parsley, valerian or hypericum. He has documented more than 300 herbs during his life time. He was the first person to believe that surgery should be used as last measure and proclaimed the entire body as an organism.
After the invasion of Alexander on Egypt in 3rd century BC, the use of Aromatic perfumes and herbs became more popular. New theories and studies came up. In Athens, a student of Aristotle – the great philosopher, Theophrastus wrote “history of plants” and many other botanical books on medicinal plants which served as reference for botanical science for centuries. He is considered to be the founder of Botany.
Aromatherapy’s modern era began in 1930 when Rene Maurice – the well known French Chemist first called the use of essential oils for therapeutic purposes as ‘Aromatherapy’. He was amazed to see the benefits of lavender in treating burns and removing all burn scars. This made him carry out research on the benefits of other essential oils as well. During Second World War, the French army used various essential oils in the form of antiseptics.
At present, aromatherapy has become extremely popular in the Western World. It is now considered to be essential for holistic healing and alternative treatment. Various books have been published and various studies have been carried out on the power of aromatherapy for aromatic, cosmetic as well as therapeutic benefits.