Historically, essential oils have played a prominent role in everyday life. With more than 200 references to aromatics, incense, and ointments throughout the Bible, essential oils are said to be used for anointing and healing the sick.
Translations of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and Chinese manuscripts describe how priests and physicians used essential oils thousands of years before the time of Christ. The precious oils of frankincense, myrrh, galbanum, rosemary, hyssop, cassia, cinnamon, and spikenard were used extensively for anointing and healing the sick. There are over a hundred references to aromatics in the Bible. Biblical prophets appear to have recognized that essential oils protected their bodies from disease. Why did the Wise men bring the precious substances of frankincense and myrrh to the Christ child? Frankincense was well known during the time of Christ for its anointing and healing powers and is now being researched and used therapeutically in European and American hospitals.
The Romans fumigated and diffused oils in their temples and political buildings and scented their baths with oils followed by a fragrant oil massage.
The ancient Arabian people began to study the chemical properties of essential oils. They developed and refined the distillation process. They extracted rose oil and rose water, which were very popular in the Middle East at that time. Kings would barter and buy land, gold and slaves with their crudely extracted oils. The oils were more valuable than gold.
In 1817 the 870-foot-long Ebers Papyrus was discovered. Dating back to 1500 B.C., it was called a medicinal scroll. It mentioned over 800 herbal prescriptions and remedies. Other scrolls indicate that the Egyptians had a high success rate in treating as many as 81 different diseases. Many mixtures they used contained myrrh oil and honey. Myrrh was used for embalming because of its effectiveness in preventing bacterial growth.
When King Tutankhamen's tomb was opened in 1922, some 50 alabaster jars designed to hold 350 liters of oil were discovered. While tomb robbers had stolen nearly all of the precious oils, some of the jars still contained remains of their original contents. The large cache of plundered oil jars documents how valuable fragrant oils were in this ancient civilization.
Sadly, during the Dark Ages, with the burning of libraries in Alexandria and other places around the world, much of the knowledge of essential oils and their uses were lost until now. Today, essential oils are used for aromatherapy, massage therapy, emotional health, personal care, nutritional supplements, household solutions, and much more.
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