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Aromatherapy How Tos > History of Aromatherapy

Chapter One Excerpt

This is an excerpt from Aromatherapy At Home Workshop:




Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils to restore harmony and balance to the mind body and spirit. The use of aromatic oils dates back between 4000 and 5000 years. It is difficult to pinpoint a specific time.

The use of aromatic oils and various formulas  are documented   on the walls in Egyptian temples in the form of hieroglyphs.

Essential oils were used in the embalming process  to help the spirit of the deceased transition to the other side. The  Ancient Egyptians are also recognized for their use of aromatic cosmetic treatments.

There is a legend that states that Cleopatra loved the scent of Neroli oil so much that she  had  the walls of her home washed and scented with it. She also  Perfumed herself with the very expensive oil that is derived from orange blossoms and is used in skincare to preserve the elasticity of the skin. It is also considered an aphrodisiac which might explain why so many men were intoxicated by her presence.




The Bible speaks of carrier oils such as olive oil as well as essential oils. Most people are familiar with Frankincense and myrrh being gifted to The Holy Family on the birth of Jesus. But essential oils are mention  about 188 times in the Bible. These oils were used for anointing and healing. 

Most people are familiar with Frankincense and myrrh being  gifted to the Holy Family on the birth of Jesus. The oils were considered more precious than gold. Their functions were to heal. Frankincense was used to alleviate depression and restore balance to female hormone system. In cosmetics it was used to help reduce stretch marks and fine lines and wrinkles.  The resin is still burned today during funerals  to ease grief and purify the air.

Fragrance of  certain healing plants were used to bring a closer connection to the divine spirit of God. 





Throughout the centuries the use of essential oils phased in and out of popularity.  In 1328 the Black Plague began to  spread from China to Europe following all of the Trade Routes to every country. The devastating illness was swift and fatal.  7500 Victims of the disease were dying every day. 




The Elizabethan surgeons wore long black robes, leather gloves, hats a beak-like mask.

This mask contained drops of Bergamot oil which has antibacterial and anti-infectious properties among others. They also carried amulets of herbs such as rosemary, lavender, bay and sage., which were used throughout history for burning in order fumigate rooms where there was illness.

So most of the world ‘s  only hope for medicinal assistance was fro the “Wise Women” and some church members who held knowledge of medicinal herbs. 

The herbs were gathered together in a bouquet .They were used as an inhalant to boost the immune system, offset the smell of death and burned to purify the air.

Ring Around The Rosies was actually a very morbid nursery rhyme that referred to the rose- like look of the sores on the bodies of the infected. The bouquet which was either carried in hand or was stored as a “pocket full of posies”.  

Any and all forms of healing arts were called into action to combat the spread of the disease.

Some of the most common herbs and oils used were for specific symptoms of  the disease and are still used for those symptoms today.

Many of the people who lived in the mountains  covered with lavender fields seemed to escape the illness. So they were employed to come into the villages to remove the bodies of the deceased.

They also came with herbal remedies.  





Since there were few qualified physicians the “Wise Women” and people of the church knowledgable in healing herbs and oils were the only hope for the victims of the black death.

 As the death toll rose and treatments were failing Fear began to escalate.

No one knew the disease  was caused by the fleas that travelled throughout the world on rats that infested the trade ships.

The blame was placed on evil spirits, demons and Satan and the humans that must be helping them. The very people who trying to be of assistance became targeted with the fault of disease. Especially when their remedies did not cure the afflicted and did not affect the healer.

The healers ,Out of fear for their lives, not from the plague, but of their fellow human beings retreated and ceased to record or speak of  any remedies. 




In 1937 a French chemist Dr. Rene-Maurice Gattafosse  coined the phrase aromatherapy. His interest was inspired  when he burned his hand in the lab and  he submerged his hand into a vat of lavender oil which close by. He noted the relief , antiinflammatoryaction and quick healing.

A French physician Dr. Jean Valnetused the medicinal research of Dr. Gatafosseto further his own use of essential oils in his practice. He used the oils in the treatment of wounds on war injuries during World War II. The most popular oil being Tea Tree, known for its antibiotic properties. 




  Copyright Notice: All articles and photographs and logos on these pages are the sole copyright of Patrina Rutherford-Vickers © 2012-2015 No permission, either implicit or explicit is given to reproduce or use these articles or photographs or logos in any format or media. All Rights are Reserved 

Patrina Rutherford



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* Consultant your physician before incorporating the use of any integrative, vintage, complementary therapy into your lifestyle. This newsletter is an informational guide and collection of uses from clients, friends, family and books. It is not a substitute for professional medical care or treatment.


Copyright Notice: All articles and photographs and logos on these pages are the sole copyright of Patrina Rutherford-Vickers © ,2020-2023 No permission, either implicit or explicit is given to reproduce or use these articles or photographs or logos in any format or media. All Rights are Reserved