In fact, although the word aromatherapy has been used since the 20th century, humanity's use of aromatic plants for healing dates back thousands of years.
Aromatherapy, which aims to use essential oils obtained from aromatic plants for spiritual, physical and mental healing, is a supportive treatment method that comes to the fore with the effort of modern people to return to nature. The traces of this fragrant healing journey go back to the Chinese civilization, which is thought to be the first civilization in history to use plants for good life. We see that the Chinese used incense as a harmony and balance tool thousands of years ago and discovered the healing power of scents.
We know that the ancient Egyptians also harnessed the medicinal power of plants and even used various oils to embalm the dead. It is among the information recorded by the researchers that the scents of oils such as cedar, clove, cinnamon and myrrh were felt, albeit slightly, and some plant remains were found in some of the tombs opened at the beginning of the 20th century.
Although ancient Greek mythology spoke of aromatic oils as a gift bestowed only on the gods, the perfume “Megaleion”, made by the Greek perfumer Megallus and containing myrrh and cinnamon, was used to heal wounds with its anti-inflammatory properties. We know that Hippocrates, known as the "father of medicine" in history, frequently used aromatic oils in incense, massage and bath therapies.
Later, he compiled his book, which he compiled by building on the information he received from Ancient Greek and Egyptian civilizations, and examined about 500 kinds of plants. De Materia Medica With the Discorides, it left its mark on the period of the Roman Empire. De Materia Medica it is also known as the most comprehensive resource written about Anatolian medicinal plants.In the 11th century, the use and production of aromatic oils was developed by Ibn-i Sina and medicinal plant cultivation in the fields began to become widespread. One of the most famous examples of this expansion is the German high priestess Hildegard, who became famous for her lavender fields in the 12th century. Hildegard even expressed her passion and belief in lavender. Causes and Cures He describes it in terms of “pure knowledge and pure spirit” in his book.
Until the plague epidemic of the 14th century hit Europe, people still relied on herbal recipes, and it was even believed that perfumers, too busy with aromatic oils, were protected from the plague. 15th and 16th centuries; It went down in history as centuries when oils of many plants such as daily, rose, sage and rosemary were produced and books for herbal treatment were widely used. Considered one of the founders of modern medicine in 1536, Swiss-born German doctor and chemist Paracelcus became famous for his alchemical studies at that time to learn about the hidden forces of nature.
As perfumery started to turn into an art form from the 17th century, aromatic oils began to carry an emphasis on charm and beauty as well as being a source of healing. The rapid progress of the perfume industry towards the 20th century continued with the discovery of the separation of aromatic oils, which are the basic raw materials, into their components, and the use of synthetic chemicals, which are used instead of natural raw materials, has increased due to the fact that they are more economical today. This led to a decrease in interest in pure and natural oils.
The accident that the French chemist Gattefosse had in the perfume laboratory in 1910 paved the way for the beginning of studies that will bring aromatherapy to today's world with its modern approach. Gattefosse, who treated a fatal burn with lavender oil found in his laboratory, began his work in 1937. Aromatherapie: Les Huiles essentielles hormones végétales He wrote the first aromatherapy book. This source, which was in French, was later translated into English and took its place in the literature as the first reference book of aromatherapy.
Robert Tisserand, who carries the modern approach with the holistic health understanding of aromatherapy to the present day and is now accepted as a world authority on this subject, published in 1997. The Art of Aromatherapy He wrote the first aromatherapy book of the period published in English with his book. Tisserand completed in 8 years; His book, which also talks about life energy, planets and elements, added prestige by making it more respected in the aromatherapy community.
Aromatic oils, which enter our daily lives with shampoos, creams, massage oils and even cleaning products, are one of the focal points of holistic health today. The healing journey that has lasted for centuries; The ancient knowledge learned through tradition, the undiscovered mysteries of plants and modern science continue with the endless power of nature waiting to be revealed.
The views expressed in this article are written to shed light on alternative studies and to encourage conversation about these studies. Even if the articles contain the advice of physicians to some extent, they are for informational purposes only. This text; cannot replace professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment.
More for the curious:
2. Manniche, Lise, Sacred Luxuries: Fragrance, Aromatherapy, and Cosmetics in Ancient Egyp, Cornell University Press; 1st Edition (September 20, 1999)
3. Tisserand, Robert B. The Art of Aromatherapy workbook. London, UK: Thorsons, 1993
4. Keville K, Green M. Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art (2nd ed.). New York: Crossing Press; 2009
5. Baytop, Turhan Turk History of Pharmacy. Istanbul, 2001
About the author:
Ayşe İltaş - Certified Aromatherapist, Founder of Plant Therapy Wellness & Wellbeing
He graduated from Istanbul University, Department of Industrial Engineering. When her interest in healthy life and natural products focused on the field of aromatherapy, she received Professional Aromatherapist training at the Aromahead Institute School of Essential Oil Studies in the USA. In 2019, he established the My Plant Therapy platform, which deals with medicinal and aromatic oils and their usage areas. İltaş continues to receive permaculture design trainings on herbalism and medicinal plant production.