The origins of Aromatherapy may have its beginnings in antiquity with the use of volatile plant materials by ancient cultures. Aromatherapy as practiced by the ancients dates back about 6,000 years may just be one of the oldest forms of holistic medicine for maintaining balance and well-being. The practice of using plants and fragrant oils, the pure oils from plants now known as essential oils, were used therapeutically by ancient Egyptians not only for health benefits, but for embalming purposes. The essential oils such as cedarwood, myrrh, cinnamon, frankincense, cloves and juniper berry were recognized as oils that were part of the process to preserve the bodies during the mummification process. Throughout time, the Egyptians refined and experimented with the many different fragrant oils for perfumes, ointments, balms, incense, and basic medicinal purposes.
The ancient Chinese were efficient and accomplished in using some aspect of aromatherapy around the same time frame as the ancient Egyptians. They were skillful in the use of aromatic plants, woods, and oils to promote balance, well-being, and harmony. One of the oldest known Chinese medical books incorporates the use of aromatic herbs for over several hundred ailments. The ancient Greeks were known to use aromatic oils for medicine and early forms of makeup and skin treatments; an early Greek doctor even combined the use of herbs during surgery with amazing results. The ancient Romans developed and grew their knowledge of essential oils and aromatherapy from what they knew from the Egyptians and Greeks. It was believed that the ever popular scented baths and massages promoted good health and well-being.
The word, aromatherapy, itself was not fabricated and used until the 20th century, and became an alternate way to treat or even prevent different diseases or ailments. Essential oils are the natural essence of the plant, and all parts of the plant, such as the bark, stem, flowers, and even the roots. Though the essence is referred to as oil, the liquid is not oily to the touch, it is concentrated, and is typically distilled for use. Some of the essential oils that have shown to be beneficial for anxiety are sage, geranium, lavender, and sandalwood; for stress reduction, jasmine, geranium, grapefruit, rose, and lavender have been helpful; and frankincense, lemon, sandalwood, bergamot, orange, and rose will inspire an overall feeling of well-being.
Studies have shown that tea tree oil and lavender are beneficial in helping to heal burns, and minor wounds, and oftentimes used in soaps, moisturizers, and lotions. Lemon oil is said to be uplifting and helps to brighten and boost the mood, and another very effective mood enhancer is orange oil. Sweet orange oil encourages a positive outlook and elevates an overall emotional feeling of well-being, and blends well with other oils. The ever popular peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils also are mentally stimulating and work well in a traditional sauna, and when you need to relax, lavender and chamomile work well to help you unwind. German chamomile has a calming effect, has exceptional anti-inflammatory properties, and is effective in managing migraines.
Memory and concentration can be helped with a little essential oil from basil, lemon, cypress, rosemary, and peppermint; and if you are exhausted and feeling lethargic, the very aromatic oils from clary sage, cypress, lemon, ginger, basil, rosemary, patchouli, jasmine, bergamot, and even black pepper will go a long way to uplift, restore and balance body, mind, and energy level.
There are many different oils and aromatic substances that offer therapeutic benefits and promote health in a natural non-invasive approach to help the body’s inherent ability to regulate and maintain itself. It is important to do your due diligence, and be selective before indulging. The evolution of the application of aromatherapy for therapeutic uses for physical and emotional well-being is used and practiced in many parts of the world. Empirical research has shown that the health benefits of aromatherapy warrants taking a closer in-depth look at this ancient medicinal holistic approach to whole body health and fitness.