What is the origin of aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy has a long and interesting history. Although it’s definitely trending today, it has been used for thousands of years by many cultures. Let’s take a look at the origin of aromatherapy and why it’s so popular today.
Why is aromatherapy so popular?
Aromatherapy is all about promoting wellbeing. And if self-care isn’t one of your top priorities, then it should be. It isn’t just about living the soft-life, it’s about making positive lifestyle changes that boost our psychological and physical health.
Aromatherapy is a natural therapy that can support us to feel happier, healthier and in control. It works by balancing the body and assisting our natural ability to heal ourselves. Aromatherapy works when nature’s own essential oils affect the limbic system in the brain. It actually changes the chemistry of our brain. And these changes influence our mood, feelings and emotions. The best thing is that it’s all completely natural because pure essential oils are plant-power essences with no nasties added.
In recent years aromatherapy has been trending as more and more people discover the amazing different ways these plant extracts benefit our wellbeing.
Essential oils can help with:
- Balancing and grounding
- Relaxation and promoting sleep
- Pain relief
- Building natural immunity
- Circulation and digestion
In basic terms, aromatherapy is a complementary therapy using scent. It can help with a range of physical, emotional and behavioural issues. More and more research is focusing on the benefits of using essential oils. But where did aromatherapy originate?
The history of aromatherapy
Ancient plant use
Plants and their extracts have been used for thousands of years. Some sources say herbs have been used medicinally since the palaeolithic period. Evidence of the therapeutic use of plants has been found all over the globe from India to China and Ancient Egypt. Our connection with the healing properties of plants could be coded into our DNA.
Scents like an Egyptian
The ancient Egyptians were the first in the Western world to grasp the art of aromatic medicine. Their complex perfumes were sought after throughout the Mediterranean world. The Egyptians passed on their knowledge to the Greeks. And so the study of herbs and aromatics continued.
It’s all Greek
Greek medical texts about the therapeutic use of plants have been preserved from the 4th Century BC. They created herbal mixtures of healing ointments, medicinal poultices and scented perfumes. Hippocrates, regarded as the father of modern medicine, wrote widely about the medicinal properties of plants and herbs. Way back then, Hippocrates was aware that burning particular plants could protect against contagious diseases. Greek soldiers would carry an ointment containing myrrh essential oil into battle. This was used for its antibacterial and wound-healing properties.
What have the Romans ever done for us?
Amongst other things, we should credit the Romans for their contribution to the world of perfume. The word perfume is from the Latin ‘per fumus’. This means ‘through smoke’. Originally scents were created by burning plants. We now have more sophisticated methods of extracting plant essences and preserving their scents in essential oils. The Romans were skilled in creating perfumes and aromatic oils which were used in Roman baths, for massages and even for seduction purposes. Cleopatra is said to have seduced Mark Antony with her enticing perfumes.
To the Tudor times
Until Elizabeth I, perfumes weren’t popular in Britain. The unsanitary conditions and poor hygiene practices of the middle ages, meant unpleasant smells were rife. To disguise these offensive odours, various methods were employed. Aromatic waters were created by distilling certain ingredients over alcohol. Some of the most popular blends included sage, rosemary, oranges and lavender.
During the 1700s and the industrial revolution, the science of chemistry progressed. This led to the synthetic production of chemicals found in nature. For example, salicylic acid, which is naturally found in willow trees. Salicylic acid is still used today for its exfoliating and anti-inflammatory properties. It is a common ingredient in acne treatments. Moving into the 19th Century, further advancements led to the large-scale processing of essential oils. Unfortunately, synthetic, cheaper versions were also being produced.
A happy accident
In 1910, a laboratory accident left the French chemical engineer René-Maurice Gattefossé with severe burns. He applied lavender essential oil and was stunned by the super-healing ability of the oil. In fact, it was Gattefossé who originally coined the term ‘aromatherapy’ after he started studying it as a result of his accident. This marked the movement towards the scientific study of essential oils and the benefits of aromatherapy.
Today, aromatherapy is a popular complementary therapy choice. The natural healing properties of herbs can safely be used alongside conventional medical treatments. The aromatherapy industry has boomed. It is used in health spas, hospitals, complementary health centres and the home. It continues to develop and progress as more products are created to support our health and mental wellbeing. From mood enhancing room diffusers to our own rechargeable ripple+ POD. We’re taking aromatherapy to the next level by bringing a plant-powered utopia to you.
Top tips for using aromatherapy
If you fancy diving deeper into the world of aromatherapy, here are our top tips.
- Get creative - conjure up your own blends of oils. Try out different blends for different moods. Whether you want something to relax and help you unwind or an energy boosting mix, test out some ideas.
- Take a course - if you want to max out your aromatherapy knowledge, you could find a course. Whether you just want to learn more than you can absorb on YouTube, or move into the world of professional aromatherapy, there's something out there for you.
- Use a diffuser - One of the easiest ways to get aromatherapy into your life is by using a diffuser. Room diffusers are relatively cheap and are totally amazing for adding delicious scents into your space. Don’t forget your ripple+ personal diffuser for an aromatherapy hit when you’re on the go.
- Book a massage - there’s nothing like the relaxing sensation of a luxury massage. Have a chat with your massage therapist and learn about what oils they’ll be using. It’s definitely one of the most relaxing and indulgent ways to use aromatherapy.
- Choose the best quality essential oils - as you know from learning about the origin of aromatherapy, synthetic oils are easy to make and much cheaper than pure essential oils. Always choose the best quality, most natural oils to be confident you are getting the full therapeutic benefits.