Monday, December 27, 2021

History of essential oils

Spices have been used since time immemorial man, but were later used extensively for perfumery and flavor purposes.

The first records of essential oils come from ancient India, Persia, and Egypt; and both Greece and Rome conducted extensive trade in odoriferous oils and ointments with the countries of the Orient.

Their perspective properties were observed much later when the components responsible for the aroma were identified. During the 1st half of 19th century, the essential oils industry took a proper shape because of increasing demand.

Essential oils have been used by ancient Egyptians in medication, perfumery, and in the craft of planning bodies for entombment through preservation. Other ancient cultures recognized the physical and psychological benefits of scented ointments and oils, including China and India, during the same period as ancient Egypt.

In the ancient countries of the Orient, in Greece, and in Rome the essence of flowers and roots was extracted by placing them in fatty oils. The glass bottles containing these mixtures were warmed in the sun, and finally the odoriferous oils were separated from the solid materials.

Hippocrates, known as the father of modern medicine, maintained 2,500 years ago that “the key to good health rests on having a daily aromatic bath and scented massage’. Dioscorides wrote about aromatics in his Materia Medica about 100 AD.

In Asian region, the Vedas which are some 3000 years old, classified the employments of these aromatic essences for remedial and worship purposes. Among the materials mentioned in such writings, from the earliest record times down to the period in which Kalidasa lived (470 AD), are the flowers of henna, jasmine, champak, lotus, mango, hycianth, rose, lily, sandal wood and vetiver roots.

In the 10th century, Arabic physician Avicenna left us valuable written documents describing 800 plants and their effects on the human body. He is also credited with the development of the distillation process for essential oils.

The first scientific report about preservation potential of spices, described antimicrobial activity of cinnamon oil against spores of anthrax bacilli in the 1880s.
History of essential oils