Aromatic oils, or essential oils as they are more commonly called today, have a long and illustrious history. Ask anyone about pure essential oils and they might remark about how they were used in Biblical times, or used in the embalming process of the ancient Egyptian mummies. What’s not so commonly known is most cultures throughout history have used some form of essential oil practice in their medicine, health, and beauty regimens.
Thankfully, essential oils are becoming commonplace once again. This is because modern-day scientists have been examining essential oils and their benefits, and holistic health care practitioners have been strong proponents of the health benefits of essential oils. Because these oils are gaining popularity again, it’s a good idea to look back over history and see how our ancestors used essential oils. This will give us insight on how we might be able to incorporate them further into our health and beauty routines, plus we will have more evidence these aromatic oils truly are beneficial.
All Natural Beauty
Aromatic oils were used by ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman Societies. They’ve also been used in Indian Ayurvedic beauty rituals as well. Many are familiar with a famous queen of Egypt – Cleopatra, who is famous, not only for her love affairs and infamous death, but also for her incredible beauty.
Women throughout history have done research to try and find what made Cleopatra such a head-turner, besides good genes. If you look on the internet, you will find website after website claiming to have the ancient secrets of this Egyptian beauty. Some things that seem consistent were her uses of milk, honey, and aromatic oils. These ingredients were used to soften her skin, making her look youthful throughout her life and giving her a healthy glow.
Since that time, many have used aromatic oils to reduce breakouts, even out the skin tone, give skin a radiant glow, and also as an all natural perfume.
A History of Essential Oils in Medicine
Pure essential oils are not just for the health and beauty of our skin; they can do much good for our overall health and wellbeing. In addition to beauty treatments, the ancients of Egypt, Greece, and Rome used essential oils as a way to stave off infections – viral, fungal, and bacterial. They even used certain oils, like lemon essential oil, as an antiseptic.
Fathers of Medicine, such as Hippocrates and Huang-ti, the Chinese Yellow Emperor, were both strong advocates of essential oil use in medicine. In fact, Huang-ti’s book entitled “The Yellow Emperor’s Book of Internal Medicine” promoted the use of essential oils for total health. In this book is a list of hundreds of essential oils and their benefits. Hippocrates, famous for being the Father of Modern Medicine, is quoted as saying what everyone needs for exceptional health is a daily perfumed bath and scented massage.
In our more modern history, French scientists found definite benefits for essential oils. They found that these oils could be used to heal wounds, whether the wounds were received from burns or being injured in war. In fact, in World War II, the French used pure essential oils extensively to heal wounds received by gunshots and found the oils to be even useful in the treatment of gangrene.
The ancients valued pure essential oils so much that it was traded for gold and used in most culture’s religious ceremonies. Jews, Muslims, Christians, and more – all have used aromatic oils in some form in their worship ceremonies. In fact, in the Old Testament, spices and oils were used in the temple, and it was noted as being a “sweet smelling odor” to God. Some oils, such as Frankincense and Myrrh have an automatic religious connotation when mentioned to most people. Our ancestors definitely didn’t take the health benefits of pure essential oils lightly.
Modern scientists have been studying oils to see if the ancient healers who used essential oils were really doing their patients any good. More and more evidence is coming out of laboratories proving there are real benefits of pure essential oils. They’re finding the benefits are staggering. Just as Cleopatra used aromatic oils for beauty treatments, cosmetic scientists are using these oils in modern beauty and skin care products. Essential oils are also being recommended by holistic physicians and wellness practitioners as ways to do everything from naturally cleaning your home to aiding in digestion. There are even some mental and emotional benefits which come from the use of pure essential oils.
It’s no wonder the people of ancient societies valued essential oils so much. We do well to follow their example and incorporate pure essential oils into our wellness practices.