Essential oils: a brief history

History Essential Oils

Essential oils have long been considered extremely powerful, especially for health, beauty and wellbeing purposes, as they are highly concentrated oils extracted from plants. While we could reel of all the amazing benefits of these oils, instead we’d like to take a step back in time to take a closer look at the history behind them and why they are so wonderful for your skin.

Essential oils in ancient civilisations

Cave paintings in France that have been carbon dated as far back as 18,000 BC are believed to depict medicinal plants and promote their use in healing. They have also been used by some of the most progressive cultures and ancient civilisations.

The Ancient Egyptians were innovators in the use of essential oils. They used them in sacred rituals, such as mummification and anointing statues of the deities, and in daily life for religious rituals, medicine, makeup and bathing. The scented barks, leaves, stalks, rind and roots of plants were used to make powders, tablets, incense and perfume.

The Ancient Greeks picked up where the Egyptians left off, when soldiers marched into battle with ointments made from essential oils specifically designed to counter infection. Greek physician Hippocrates explored hundreds of plant extracts and how they complement the body’s natural healing process. Another prominent physician, Galen, categorised plants for medicinal purposes in findings that are still drawn upon today.

The Ancient Romans used essential oils in their bathing and massage routines and loved to cover their bodies in fragranced oils. When the Roman Empire fell, physicians rescued the texts of Galen and Hypocrites; they were later translated and spread the knowledge of essential oils.

Fast-forward to more modern times

It was not until many years later that 20th-century French chemist Gattefossé established aromatherapy as we know it, during a period when essential oils began to be rediscovered after a long lapse. Gattefossé’s book, Aromatherapie, explored how essential oils interact positively with the chemistry of the body when absorbed. Here at Oilixia, we’re particularly inspired by this fact, as our products are created to be easily absorbable and deeply nourish skin. Gattefossé’s findings were significant in protecting hospital staff during the Spanish flu outbreak and treating the injured during both World Wars.

The impact of essential oils on health and beauty treatments over the years is unparalleled. During the Dark Ages, monks would use herbal medicine to treat the sick, while aromatics were widely used in personal hygiene for their anti-bacterial properties. Under the Arabian Empire, Persian physician Avicenna wrote about the benefits of plant extracts and perfected the oil distillation process.

In ancient China, the great Yellow Emperor, Huang Ti, wrote The Yellow Emperor’s Book of Internal Medicine, which discusses essential oils and is still widely referenced in modern eastern medicine. In India, the 3,000-year-old Ayurvedic medicine system has its roots in the healing powers of essential oils.

Armies during the Crusades relied on herbal medicine to treat ailments while essential oils were burnt in the streets during the Bubonic Plague to ward off evil spirits.

Essential Oils Today

Thanks to their versatility, essential oils are still used across the world. Their varying uses, aromas and scents – refreshing, soothing, romantic – have made them ideal for use in alternative and holistic health and beauty treatments. Oilixia are proud to be part of such a long-lasting tradition with our products using natural ingredients that have been in use for thousands of years.

Our Explorer Blend Facial Oil uses an essential oil blend of Lavender (soothing and anti-bacterial), Neroli (helps with skin texture and tone), Bergamot (helps with skin brightness and radiance) and Patchouli (helps to rejuvenate the skin).

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