Essential Oils – Know Their Ancient History

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Ancient History of essential oils 

Avid essential oil users may have a hard time imagining life without them, but have you ever thought of how essential oils came to being?

There’s been a rising trend in the use of essential oils in recent years, but essential oils aren’t even a remotely new invention. In previous posts we have talked about how essential oils have been mentioned in many ancient Indian texts. Evidence of the use of essential oils date back even further than the Vedas.

The first known use of essential oils, or at least the equivalent of it, predates ancient history itself. Analyses of pollen found in the remains of Stone Age settlements may indicate that aromatic plants were used for preventing and treating illnesses as far back as 10000 BCE.

The advent of aromatherapy itself can be attributed to the ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Indian civilizations. However, usage varied a lot. Primarily, aromatic plants were used in their crude forms, either directly, or in mixtures with other plant products and saw number of uses which ranged from religious uses to medicinal.

While that isn’t the same as using essential oils, oils extracted from such aromatic plants have also been found to exist in these ancient civilizations. Preserved storage vessels containing plant-based oils have been discovered in the Indus Valley and in Ancient Egyptian tombs, which would imply that Essential oils have been extracted and used as far back as 4000 BCE.

Many findings also indicate the practice of the distillation processes for extracting oils in ancient Turkey, Persia, and India, dating back as far as 3000 BCE. Quite a few of these ancient cultures used these oils as perfumes for therapeutic, cosmetic, and religious purposes, although they were often reserved for priests and rulers.

And that isn’t all. Coming back to Ancient India, we have spoken about how aromatherapy is recorded in the Vedas, the Ayurveda to be exact. Ayurveda deals with the knowledge of life, and references hundreds of uses of herbs and aromatics for healing and religious purposes. Essential oils were also being used for massages back in ancient India and China. Greek physician Hippocrates, known as the father of medicine, had listed over 200 medicinal plants in his text, including aromatic plants, and described their uses and efficacies.

It might seem wild to imagine that the essential oils we use today has its roots in ancient history, but it gets easier to picture it once you realize that the source of these oils are the very plants and flowers that you see every day in the world.

Although history itself isn’t clear about specific origins, if you dive into the history of essential oils and aromatic plants, you’ll learn that a lot of the knowledge was shared over time and across the world. Plants native to one civilization was brought and shared to other places. Over the many centuries, many new and improved uses of medicinal and aromatic plants were discovered. So, next time when you’re enjoying a relaxing aromatherapy session and wonder who were the first people to use essential oils, maybe this post can answer that question. 

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