Origins of Massage Oils and Aromatherapy
When we think of a luxury massage experience no sooner have we thought about the spa but our mind suddenly thinks massage oils and aromatherapy. But why do we use these massage oils and do they even help to enhance the experience as people often tell us? We decided to take a look at the history and origins or massage oils and aromatherapy as a whole and discovered some surprising things.
The first uses of massage oils and aromatherapy date back almost 3000 years BC (before Christ), And that the Egyptians used aromatherapy in their daily lives and rituals. It is documented that they made and burned incense made from different types of aromatic dried woods and herbs for their gods. It is also noted that it was used in large quantities by Imperial houses and guesthouses to welcome important guests and to display a person’s wealth. It was used in the most ancient of healing practices to treat numerous and varied ailments. It was also used in sacred rituals and ceremonies and used to invoke gods, spirits and reach a more conscious state of mind.
In Egyptians times when kings had died, huge religious ceremonies were performed in temples it was sacred tradition to embalm the corpse and this is when the deceased king would be mummified and surrounded with aromatic and exotic oils. Ancient Egyptians believe very strongly that the oils used had a preserving property when mixed with other spices and herbs.
Prominence in Other Cultures
At around the same time as the Egyptians the Chinese and Indians were also discovering and using an ever increasing number of aromatherapy oils and ointments. Also like the Egyptians, they used them for many different things and used them for such things as religious events, medicine, burial ceremonies etc. The first record of aromatic oils used in China is 2697-2597 B.C.E during the reign of the legendary Yellow Emperor. The Yellow Emperors “book of Internal Medicine” contains numerous references to aromatherapy oils and their usage.
“Ayur-Veda” is the Indian term for traditional medicine and has used aromatherapy oils in medicinal use for over 3000 years. In the ancient Vedic scripts list an extensive number of ingredients used and their healing effects and list items such as cinnamon, ginger, myrrh and sandalwood as all having beneficial healing properties. India is the only country today who have not lost this practice.
Western and Modern Uses
Aromatherapy was slowly introduced to western cultures by knights who had travelled to the east during the crusades and had now returned with this knowledge they had learned whilst travelling were the knights acquired great knowledge in the healing properties offered by such plants and herbs.
It was later in the 19th century when modern medicine became more prominent did the use of aromatherapy become more well known and used. It wasn’t until around the 1920’s that it became popular again and was termed the commonly known name of aromatherapy when a French chemist named Rene- Maurice Gatefosse who was investigating the healing properties of plants, accidently burnt his hand during an experiment. Gatefosse in pain and panic put his hand in the only liquid he had available which happened to be pure lavender oil. Gatefosse noted how immediately his pain subsided and that his hand healed with no infections or scarring he coined this process aromatherapy. After he and a colleague experimented further it was introduced to hospitals throughout France. Rene-Maurice Gatefosse released his book aromatherpie in 1928.
Throughout the year’s aromatherapy has become more and more popular as an alternative form of medicine and healing, and is often used in combination with other ancient techniques such as massage therapy and has resulted in a large and varied market for massage oils and aromatherapy products.