Aromatherapy is one of the oldest healing practices around, bringing comfort and healing for over 5,000 years. The Bible alone contains 188 references to essential oils! While uses and origins vary greatly, our ancient Egyptian ancestors deserve a shout-out of on the history of essential oils.
Egyptian History of Essential Oils
The Egyptians have been using aromatic oils from as early as 4500 B.C.. This magical culture played a huge role in the innovation of herbal medicine. Egyptians were renowned for their knowledge of cosmetology, healing ointments and aromatic oils. Their most famous elixir “Kyphi” was an herbal blend of 16 ingredients that could be used as incense, perfume or medicine – talk about versatile!
The Egyptians used balsams, perfumed oils, scented barks, resins, spices and aromatic vinegar in everyday life. They used oils and pastes made from plants to create pills, powders, suppositories, medicinal cakes and ointments. These potions were considered sacred.
In fact, only priests (who also happened to be doctors) were allowed to use aromatic oils, because they were considered necessary to be at one with the Gods. Specific blends were dedicated to each deity, and their statues were anointed with these oils by their followers. Pharaohs were given special blends for different intentions, such as meditation, love or war.
But perhaps their most famous contribution is their use of aromatic oils and resins for mummification. Embalmers would artfully prepare the deceased for their voyage through the afterlife, using Frankincense, Myrrh, Cinnamon, Sandalwood, and Cedarwood. The anti-microbial properties of these oils helped to protect the body from decay, and offered support on their spiritual journey. These resins and oils were considered very valuable during this time, and were sometimes exchanged for gold.
We owe so much of what we know about Aromatherapy today to our ancestors; their ingenuity, curiosity, and documentation have shaped holistic healing as we know it.
As we continue our quest for radiant health in the 21st century, there is much to be gained by using the tools Mother Earth has provided. Our ancestors gathered flowers and herbs to create medicines, cosmetics, perfumes, and tools for emotional and spiritual clarity.
Then, through advancements of modern medicine, chemical drugs were introduced. The concentration and strength of these medicines created quite the allure, though we’ve learned the hard way over time that synthetic drugs come with a price; creating side effects and new ailments of their own, and focusing primarily on symptoms, as opposed to the whole person.
Today, we begin to embrace this concept yet again, as millions turn to Aromatherapy to help re-establish the mind-body-spirit connection in our fast paced world. With that said, there certainly is a time and place for modern medicine, and we are extremely fortunate to be living in an age where we can take advantage of both!
What are your favorite essential oils to use? Comment below!
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