Ancient Luxury: The History of the Essential Oil

The History of Essential Oils is a grand and epic tale.  Essential Oils have been used for various purposes for over five thousand years!

Let s take a trip back in the time stream and explore the magnificent world of Essential Oils in Ancient Times!


The Egyptians had the first intelligent Essential Oil system.  Their extraction methods included steam distillation, as well as the very painstaking enfleurage method.  The Egyptians saw the vast application of these aromatic salves and applied Essential Oils to religious ceremony, beauty and even food preparation!

Though the Ancient Egyptians used many types of essential oils, the most common were: Frankincense, Sandalwood, Myrrh, Cinnamon and Cypress.


Some say that the story of Essential Oils in India is as old as time itself.   Archeological digs have turned up records that show even the earliest Indians in 3000 BC used essential oils.  Their methods of extraction included pressing, pulverization and distillation.

Around 1000 BC the tenants of Ayurveda, the Indian dietary, self-care and medicinal system, became codified.  What had previously existed as an oral tradition was written out into large documents.  Within these documents included a method for Aromatherapy, and Beauty through the use of attars (another name for Essential oils!)  

Most loved oils in Ancient India included: Rose, Jasmine, Sweet Orange, Sandalwood Patchouli and Amber


Under the leadership of Alexander the Great, the Greeks were exposed to Ancient Egyptian and Indian teachings. They travel far to India and even owned the great Egyptian Library in Alexandria.  It is through these cultures that the Greeks learned of the power of Essential Oils.  

The Greeks adopted these discoveries and built upon them.   Hypocrites, the famous Greco-doctor, wrote, A perfumed bath and a scented massage everyday is the way to good health.  Hypocrites went on to detail the powers of over 300 different plants and plant ointments!  

Favorite Greek Essential Oils include: Sage, Marjoram, Cumin and Peppermint.


Around 140 BC the Roman Empire had grown in numbers, size and strength.  They now had the force and might to expanded into Greece.  The Romans became at once the ruling class but also apprentices of Greek knowledge.  They adopted many practices from the Greeks, including the secrets of Essential Oils!

In Ancient Rome, lavishly applying perfumed oil to bodies, bedding and clothes was a standard self-care practice.  Rome was studded with public bathhouses that used Essential Oils in tons. Romans also used essential oils to fumigate their temples and political buildings

The Romans enjoyed distillations of: Rose, Myrrh, Cinnamon, Cardamom and Melissa.  In their bathhouses, the particularly enjoyed the use of Lavender Oil.  The name Lavender comes, in fact, from the Latin word for bathing: lavare!


After the fall of the Roman Empire, the sophisticated learnings on Essential Oils became lost.  During the Middle Ages plant medicines were considered to be witchcraft and so essential oils was not only abandoned, but also shunned!  Today, however, essential oils are making their exquisite comeback.

Though some think that using essential oils is a new-fangled idea, history shows it s been done for millennia!

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