You might be wondering what exactly aromatherapy means. Find out where the word aromatherapy comes from, what it represents and how it can help you in your daily life. Discover the fascinating and old history of aromatherapy in ancient civilizations. You will learn the answers to all of these questions, and more, in this article.

In essence, aromatherapy is the practice of using aromatic compounds and essential oils for the well-being of the mind and body.

Aromatherapy has a fascinating and old history, going back as far as prehistoric times when Juniper berries were used as a disinfectant and as food flavoring. There is a lot of evidence that shows plants and herbs have been used over the millennia to treat all kinds of ailments.

Even though the name aromatherapy only started to be used from the 20th century onward, the history of aromatherapy and usage of aromatic oils goes back much further than that. Many ancient civilizations have evidence and records of using aromatherapy. And the distillation of aromatic compounds goes back as far as one thousand years ago.

One of the first examples of using aromatic compounds for improving well-being could have been the Chinese culture. Their practices included burning incense in order to increase balance and harmony.

The Egyptians have been known to use plant resins and oils in their mummification rituals. Jars of frankincense have been found in tombs and myrrh was used for embalming.

The Ancient Greeks owe much of their knowledge of using plants as medicine to the Egyptians. However in Greek mythology the knowledge of the use of perfumes and plants as medicine is credited to the Gods.

In the Middle Ages a Persian physician named Avicenna used the process of distillation to create various essential oils. He documented, in extensive detail, the various usages of the essential oils he produced to aid well-being and good health.

It was only in 1910 that a French chemist and perfumier named Rene Maurice Gattefosse accidentally burnt his hand, and by a stroke of luck happened to re-discover the healing properties of lavender oil over burns. After this incident, Gattefosse went on to experiment in treating soldiers with wounds and published his findings in a scientific paper in 1928. This was the first time that the newly coined term “aromatherapy” was used.

Since then there has been a growing interest in aromatherapy. And there is a modern resurgence in the popularity of using aromatherapy to treat various conditions ranging from anxiety and stress to all kinds of skin conditions. Various aromatic compounds and incenses are commonly used to balance energies around us and help relieve stress.

Lavender flowers in a glass jar on a table

The positive effects of using aromatic compounds in aromatherapy are finally being proven scientifically all around the world in our modern times. Even though the empirical knowledge of the usefulness and effectiveness of aromatherapy was well known in our ancient world, it survived being passed down to only a small number of cultures in our modern world.

With the resurgence in interest and new scientific findings being published every so often, aromatherapy seems to be on its path to regain its role as an important tool in improving and maintaining our mental and physical well-being.

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