One of the few places where the tradition of Aromatherapy
continued was in monasteries, where monks used plants from herbal gardens
to produce infused oils, herbal teas and medicines.
At the time of the plague and during the Middle Ages,
it was discovered that certain aromatic derivatives helped to prevent
the spread of infection, and others, such as cedar and pine, were burnt
to fumigate homes and streets.
The revival of the use of essential oils is believed
to be credited to a Persian physician and philosopher known as Avicenna
who lived from 980 AD to 1037 AD. The Arabs initiated a method of extraction known as distillation,
and study of the therapeutic use of plants once again became popular
in the Universities. The knowledge of distillation spread to their
invading forces during the Crusades, and the lost process was once
again returned to Europe.
By 1200 AD, essential oils were being produced in Germany
and were based mainly on herbs and spices brought from Africa and the
When South America was invaded by the conquistadors,
even more medicinal plants and aromatic oils were discovered, and the
wide variety of medicinal plants found in Montezuma's gardens provided
a basis for many new and important remedies and treatments.
Throughout the northern continent, Native American Indians
were using aromatic oils and producing their own herbal remedies which
were discovered when settlers began to make their way across the plains
of the New World.
Although herbs and aromatics had been used in other world
cultures for many centuries, it was not until the 19th century that
scientists in Europe and Great Britain began researching the effects
of essential oils on humans. It was French chemist, Rene Maurice Gattefosse
who discovered the healing powers of lavender oil after burning his
hand in his laboratory. He published a book on the anti-microbial effects
of the oils in 1937 and the term "Aromatherapy" was born.
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