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Aromatherapy - A Brief History

Aromatherapy has become very popular over the past few years, serving as a means of relaxation and relief. Comprised of a blend of a variety of essential oils and massage oils, it is widely used throughout the world to help calm and rejuvenate the entire body. That is why it is also known as health for the body, mind, and spirit.

The term Aromatherapy comes from two words: 'aroma', meaning fragrance, and 'therapy', meaning treatment. It is a healing art based on nature and is said to be very successful in effecting the body, mind, and spirit. Increasingly used in society today, Aromatherapy is a fast growing therapy in holistic medicine. Even as far back as 18,000 b.c., flowers and plants were used for healing, relaxing, and energizing the body. Aromatherapy was used by three of the most ancient civilizations: Egypt, China, and India, and is reputed to be at least 6,000 years old.

Aromatherapy, as we know it today, began with the Egyptians who used the method of infusion to extract the oils from aromatic plants to be used for healing purposes. In additional to medicinal uses, Aromatherapy was also used for both cosmetic reasons and for embalming. During this time, certain plants were used for specific conditions, whereas others were used for religious purposes. Some were even believed to have the power to raise the level of consciousness or promote a state of tranquility.

The Egyptians understood the uses and benefits of Aromatherapy and incorporated it into their cooking as well. Here, specific herbs were used to help the digestive process while others protected against infection and helped build the immune system. After bathing, the Egyptians believed in being massaged with fragrant oils.

It is also believed that there is a strong possibility that the Chinese were using some form of aromatics at the same time as the Egyptians. The Shen Nung's Herbal book is the oldest surviving medical book in China and is dated about 2700 B.C. and contains information on over 300 different plants and herbs. The Chinese used aromatic herbs and burned aromatic woods and incense as a way of showing respect to God.

Traditional Indian medicine known as ayurveda has been practiced for over 3,000 years. The Greeks also continue to use Aromatic oils, along with many other countries and cultures. Pretty soon the use of Aromatherapy spread, and it is now one of the most widely practiced natural forms of healing all over the world. Drawing from what was used in ancient times, the Aromatherapy of today is a blend of the different cultures and is enjoyed by many people on a regular basis.


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