Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WHO INVENTED AROMATHERAPY?? PART 1



The History of Aromatherapy

Pt 1: 3,500 BC - 199 AD


The roots of Aromatherapy can be traced back more than 3,500 years before the birth of Christ, to a time when the use of aromatics was first recorded in human history. In reality, the history of aromatherapy is inexorably linked to the development of aromatic medicine, which in the early days was itself combined with religion, mysticism and magic.
This was a time when the ancient Egyptians first burned incense made from aromatic woods, herbs and spices in honour of their gods. They believed that as the smoke rose up to the heavens, it would carry their prayers and wishes directly to the deities. Eventually, the development of aromatics as medicines would create the foundations that aromatherapy was built upon.
Look to eternity
During the 3rd Dynasty (2650-2575 BC) in Egypt, the process of embalming and mummification was developed by the Egyptians in their search for immortality. Frankincense, myrrh, galbanum, cinnamon, cedarwood, juniper berry and spikenard are all known to have been used at some stage to preserve the bodies of their royalty in preparation of the after-life.
The valuable herbs and spices they needed were laboriously transported across inhospitable deserts by Arab merchants for distribution to Assyria, Babylon, China, Egypt, Greece, Rome and Persia. The most sought after materials were frankincense and myrrh, and because during those early trading years demand outstripped supply they had a value equal to that of gems and precious metals.
Masters of perfumery
The Egyptians loved to use simple fragrances in their daily lives and did so at every opportunity. At festivals and celebrations women wore perfumed cones on their heads which would melt under the heat, releasing their beautiful fragrance. After bathing, they would anoint their bodies with oil to protect them from the drying effects of the baking sun and to rejuvenate their skin.
During the period between the 18th and the 25th Dynasty (1539-657 BC), the Egyptians continued to refine their use of aromatics in incense, medicine, cosmetics, and finally perfumes. Until just a few hundred years before the birth of Christ, the Egyptian perfumery industry was celebrated as the finest in the whole of the Middle East and beyond. So great was their reputation as master perfumers, that when Julius Caesar returned home with Cleopatra after conquering Egypt around 48 BC, perfume bottles were tossed to the crowds to demonstrate his total domination over Egypt.
Enter the Greeks
The richness of the Egyptian botanical pharmacopoeia had already been assimilated by many other cultures during previous millennia; the Assyrians, Babylonians and Hebrews had all borrowed from their vast knowledge of aromatic medicine. As the Egyptian Empire crumbled into decline around 300 BC, Europe became the heart of empirical medicine, where new methods were steadily evolving into a more scientifically based system of healing.
The earliest known Greek physician was Asclepius who practiced around 1200 BC combining the use of herbs and surgery with previously unrivalled skill. His reputation was so great that after his death he was deified as the god of healing in Greek mythology, and thousands of lavish healing temples known as Asclepieion were erected in his honor throughout the Grecian world.
The Father of Medicine
Hippocrates (circa 460-377 BC) was the first physician to dismiss the Egyptian belief that illness was caused by supernatural forces. Instead, he believed the doctor should try to discover natural explanations for disease by observing the patient carefully, and make a judgment only after consideration of the symptoms.
His treatments would typically employ mild physio-therapies, baths, massage with infusions, or the internal use of herbs such as fennel, parsley, hypericum or valerian. Hippocrates is said to have studied and documented over 200 different herbs during his lifetime. He believed that surgery should be used only as a last resort and was among the first to regard the entire body as an organism. Therefore we have Hippocrates to thank for a concept fundemental to true aromatherapy - that of holism.
Founders of botany & pharmacology
After Alexander's invasion of Egypt in the 3rd century BC, the use of aromatics, herbs and perfumes became much more popular in Greece prompting great interest in all things fragrant. Theophrastus of Athens who was a philosopher and student of Aristotle, investigated everything about plants and even how scents affected the emotions. He wrote several volumes on botany including 'The History of Plants', which became one of the three most important botanical science references for centuries to come. He is generally referred to today as the Founder of Botany.
The next great luminary was the Greek military physician Dioscorides (40-90 AD) who served in Nero's army. In order to study herbs, Dioscorides marched with Roman armies to Greece, Germany, Italy and Spain, recording everything that he discovered. He described the plants habitat, how it should be prepared and stored, and described full accounts of its healing properties. His results were published in a comprehensive 5 volume work called 'De Materia Medica', also known as 'Herbarius'.
This epic publication was the first ever systematic pharmacopoeia and contained 1000 different botanical medications, plus descriptions and illustrations of approximately 600 different plants and aromatics. His magnificent work was so influential he has been bestowed the accolade, the Father of Pharmacology.
Of gladiators and emperors
Perhaps the most brilliant and influential of all Greek physicians was Claudius Galen, who lived from 129-199 AD and studied medicine from the age of seventeen. He began his medical career aged 28 under Roman employ treating the wounds of gladiators with medicinal herbs. This unique experience provided him with the opportunity to study wounds of all kinds, and it is said that not a single gladiator died of battle wounds while under the care of Galen.
Due to his phenomenal success he quickly rose to become the personal physician to the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, and since Rome was a thriving academic center during the lifetime of Galen it was the ideal place for him to conduct further research. Galen was the last of the great Greco-Roman physicians, and within 100 years of his death the Roman Empire would begin to decline, plunging Europe into the dark ages.
As the Romans began pulling out of Britain, much of their medical knowledge was discarded and all progress in the Western tradition of medicine came to a halt for hundreds of years. During this period, Europe sank into the lowest depths of barbarism recorded in history, and it would be the turn of another culture to carry the torch of aromatic medicine forward.

1 comment:

Geoff said...

Hi Brenda,

A friendly word of advice.

This article is subject to copyright and belongs to Quinessence.com

If I were you I would either give them a credit or remove the 2 part article before anybody from their company finds it.

And they will find it.

Fiona