Aromatherapy Guide

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The Aromatherapy Guide to Using Essential Oils for Health, Beauty and Wellbeing

Our senses instinctively distinguish foul smells as harmful and pleasant aromas as beneficial. The enticing scents of the aromatic plants may have led early humans to select these plants. Through trial and error, people discovered which plants were useful for food, spices, spiritual ritual, beautification of the body, and healing.

The oldest form of medicine in the world, ayurveda dates back five thousand years in India. The vast diversity of plant life, including fennel, turmeric, long pepper, sandalwood, ashwagandha, garlic, cardamom, cumin, clove, lemongrass, holy basil, chaulmoogra, khus khus vetiver), patchouli, spikenard, benzoin, frankincense, and jasmine, led to the incorporation of aromatics into ayurvedic medicine. This richness of botanical resources also led to the export of many aromatic and medicinal herbs and spices, and with this trade came the exchange of knowledge. The medicine of India influenced much of the ancient world as ayurvedic concepts traveled throughout Southeast Asia and China.

The ancient Chinese pharmacy included two thousand primarily botanical substances. Some of these plant medicines are still used today in pharmaceutical drugs, such as the ephedrine found in hayfever medications, which comes from the Chinese plant ma-huang.

Herbal medicine was also highly developed in Egypt, where official schools of herbalism are believed to have existed as early as 3000 B.C. Aromatic botanicals used by the Egyptians included myrrh, peppermint, cinnamon, wormwood, aniseed, frankincense, galbanum, juniper, fir, cypress, black pepper, fennel, cumin, marjoram, onion, garlic, and asafoetida.

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