The History of Essential Oils: Medical Trick or Treatment?
The Mayo Clinic’s publication of their “Book of Alternative Medicine, Integrating the Best of Natural Therapies with Conventional Medicine” is one of the many indications that alternative therapies are being acknowledged by mainstream medicine, and in some cases are viewed as complementary treatments. Developed by Mayo Clinic doctors and editors, the book addresses natural healing therapies including 40 herbs, essential oils and botanicals that have been used for generations as natural remedies.
Essential Oils: The History of the Mystery
Ancient civilizations used a variety of essential oils as medical treatments, for emotional well-being and even as preservatives or embalming fluids. Before modern medicine developed as an industry, plants and essential oils were used as remedies for everything to the common cold to the Black Plague.
Dating back, as far as 4000 BC, essential oils were used in traditional Chinese medicine. The Chinese, in fact used venoms along with herbs oils for treating flu, colds, stomach issues, headache pain, arthritis, sprains and wounds.
If you have ever heard of “Tiger Balm” being used for arthritis or a hangover, please note that it’s a Chinese medicine mixture, of menthol, mint oil, camphor, cajuput oil, cassia and clove oil, which was used over 1000 years ago and is still being used today. This particular combination is not an essential oil, but it’s made by combining essential oils.
The use of essential oils by the Egyptians is well documented. Starting around 3150 BC there are records of ancient Egyptians using myrrh, nutmeg, cedar wood, clove and cinnamon, in their medicine, as well as, their embalming fluid, as a very effective preservative.
The Greeks were the traders of the ancient world and they spread their understanding of essential oils, through the Middle East, Africa and eventually to Europe.
During the 14th century as the Black Plague spread Europeans employed the use of herbs and oils to help stop the epidemic. Even though the population was devastated, the legend remains that alchemists and herbalists were kept alive by using herbs and essential oils as preventative medicine.
It is even speculated that one or more essential oils played a part in ending the epidemic. Some important spices/essential oils known for their ability to kill fleas or repel rats and fleas (and it is certain that rats spread the Black Plague through their fleas) are; cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and bay laurel leaf . Each one contains high content of the compound eugenol. Even a drop, of undiluted essential clove bud oil, can kill fleas on contact and repels fleas through its fumes. Eugenol is not just a pesticide and a pest repellent, it also has antiseptic and and anesthetic properties.
In the Americas (both North and South), when Europeans first discovered the native Indians they were surprised to find that herbal remedies and essential oils were used. ...