Skip to content
You can now shop Delune on - Click here to visit our Amazon Storefront
Click here to shop Delune on
A Journey Through Time: The History of Essential Oils

A Journey Through Time: The History of Essential Oils

Essential oils have long been cherished for their myriad health benefits. As some of the most ancient and powerful substances used worldwide, pinpointing their exact origins as healing agents is a bit of a challenge. However, we've managed to compile some captivating historical insights just for you! So, sit back and join us on this scented adventure through time.

The Dawn of Aromatics: Cave Paintings in Lascaux, France

In the enchanting region of Dordogne, France, lies Lascaux, where we find the earliest evidence of essential oils. Cave paintings in this area, carbon-dated back to around 18,000 B.C.E., hint at the use of plants for medicinal purposes, offering a window into our ancestors' wisdom on essential oils.

The Egyptian Chronicles: Ancient Masters of Aromas

The Egyptian civilization, dating back to around 4500 B.C.E., was renowned for its expertise in essential oils, ointments, and cosmetology. Extracting oils from various trees, they transformed them for medicinal, cosmetic, and other uses.

During their heyday, essential oils were restricted to priests who sought oneness with their gods through these divine substances. Unique oil blends were designated for particular groups, like pharaohs, who used them for love, war, meditation, and more. Although the Egyptians employed numerous essential oils, they didn't produce all of them and imported many instead.

China's Fragrant Roots: Huang Ti's Aromatic Wisdom

In China, the first use of essential oils was recorded during the reign of the Yellow Emperor (Huang Ti) between 2697 and 2587 B.C.E. His famed work, 'The Yellow Emperor's Book of Internal Medicine,' detailed some essential oil uses and remains popular among Eastern medical practitioners today.

India's Ayur Veda: A Potpourri of Ancient Knowledge

India's renowned "Ayur Veda" traditional medicine, with a 3000-year history, incorporated various essential oils. During a Bubonic Plague outbreak, when antibiotics proved ineffective, Ayur Veda successfully controlled the situation. Indians also used essential oils for spiritual purposes.

Greek Beginnings: The Birthplace of Modern Medicine

Greece's essential oil knowledge, first recorded between 400-500 B.C.E., was adopted from the Egyptians. The famous Greek physician, Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.E), researched about 300 plants and documented their effects, inspired by Indian Ayurvedic medicine. His studies still influence modern medicine, as seen in the 'Hippocratic Oath' taken by doctors. Hippocrates was particularly known for studying and using oregano.

Another Greek with deep essential oil knowledge was Galen, who categorized plants based on their medicinal properties, a system known as 'Galenic' to this day.

Rome's Luxurious Touch: Bathing in Aromatic Delights

Romans lavishly applied perfumes to clothes, beddings, and bodies, and indulged in essential oil baths and massages, all derived from plant sources.

Persia's Prodigy: Avicenna the Arab and Essential Oil Distillation

Ali-Ibn Sana, commonly referred to as Avicenna the Arab, was a young prodigy who became an educated physician by the time he was only 12 years old. He wrote books about the effects of 800 plants on the human body. He also received credit as being the first person to discover and record how to distill essential oils. The methods he recorded are still being used today.

Europe: Crusaders, Plagues, and the Birth of Aromatherapy

The knowledge of essential oils spread to Europe during the Crusades, where the armies passed on the knowledge they had acquired from the Middle East. The knights brought with them perfumes and were also able to acquire knowledge about distillation.

During the Bubonic plague in the 14th century, pine and frankincense were burnt in the streets with the aim of warding off 'evil spirits'. A lesser number of people died of the plague in areas where this was done.

Later, a French chemist named René-Maurice Gattefossé came up with the term 'aromatherapie' as he was investigating the antiseptic abilities of essential oils. He published a book called 'Aromatherapie' in 1928, in which he showed different types of essential oils and their respective healing properties. The book influenced medical practices in France greatly. Gattefossé discovered the healing properties of lavender accidentally when an explosion that occurred in the lab caused serious burns on his hands. He immersed them in a tray that had liquid nearby, which he later realized was lavender essential oil. He was astonished to see that his hand healed without scarring or even getting an infection. Gattefossé went on to conduct further research on the healing properties of lavender essential oil with his colleague. He later introduced it to many French hospitals. There was a time when there was an outbreak of Spanish influenza where no hospital personnel died. This was later credited to the use of lavender essential oil.

The use of essential oils has also been recorded in religious texts. These oils have been used for anointing numerous times in the Christian and Jewish faiths.

There you have it!

A brief journey through the history of essential oils, revealing their ancient roots and significance in human culture. Today, we continue to benefit from these powerful substances in various aspects of our lives. At Delune, we're proud to share this green heritage and contribute to the modern-day use of these incredible natural resources.

Previous article The Power of Essential Oils: Unlocking Their True Potential
Next article Essential Oils and Bong Water: A Curious Combination

Leave a comment

* Required fields

Read more posts from our Delune lifestyle blog