The Origins of Aromatherapy

lavender flowers

Aromatherapy is a popular topic nowadays.

Through incense, essential oils, soaps, cosmetics, and many other uses, aromatherapy has become a common theme in many people’s lives.

The aromas can be intoxicating, and promote clarity and relaxation.

But where did aromatherapy come from? Have humans always emphasized fragrances so much? Not quite. However, aromatherapy is indeed quite old.

Where it Begun

A long time ago, in ancient Egypt, balls of plant resin were used by royalty, both for general use, such as to mask the odors of everyday life, as well as in burial tombs. It is also believed that ancient Egyptians burned incense in order to honor their deities.

Some believe that incense was used even earlier then this, in ancient China, but even if that was the case, it’s use was not very prevalent until the Xia and Zhou dynasties.

Eventually, incense began to sprout a new leaf. In addition to the previously mentioned reasons, incense also began to be used medicinally. The same plant extracts used for incense were sometimes taken internally, and prescribed for all sorts of reasons, depending on the herbs which were used. It was thought that these plant extracts extended life and health.

At one point, Egypt was a popular trade hub, and much of this incense was exported and traded for needed goods. Traders would travel from all around the world in order to come to Egypt to buy these local plant extracts and incense balls, as well as other materials.

Many of these extracts were prepared by priestesses and the process to craft the blends would often take months.

Although some Chinese sub-cultures are believed to have used incense at an even earlier date, it’s use did not become prevalent until the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties.

Eventually, the use of incense begun to spread to other nearby regions such as India and the Middle East. After the Egyptians begun the practice of aromatherapy, the Middle East perfected it. Arab alchemists perfected the practice of distillation and begun to produce even purer materials.

Nearby, and not soon after, the same art took hold in India, who is now the largest producer of these materials, as well as the biggest incense exporters in the world.

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