History of Essential Oils

History of essential oils - timeline of their use

In this brief history, I haven’t included the use of essential oils by indigenous peoples because in most cases it’s difficult to pinpoint dates, but we do know that they have been using botanicals for health and healing for many centuries.

3500 BC Mesopotamia – first known distillation apparatus developed in what is now Iraq

3000 BC China – Shen Nung publishes a book with information about more than 300 plants and their uses

1550 BC Egypt – The Ebers Papyrus records Egyptian medicine and practices and contains over 700 plant-based recipes and remedies

1330 BC Egypt – King Tutankhamun is buried with alabaster jars filled with precious oils

1000 BC Israel – King David writes about his anointing with precious ointment – oils have been used in coronation ceremonies for millennia

345 BC Greece – Alexander the Great is said to have burned incense in his youth

0 BC Israel – Biblical Magi “from the east” bring gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Christ child

100 AD Italy – Roman historian, Pliny the Elder, writes his Natural History which details the use of botanicals

1000 AD Persia – Avicenna, a physician, begins extracting floral essential oils using steam distillation

1100 AD Germany – Hildegard of Bingen uses herbs and oils in her practice and details much of her experience in works which are still available today

1914 AD – Lavender is used as an antibacterial during World War I

1930 AD France – Dr René-Maurice Gattefossé begins research into the therapeutic properties of essential oils

1980 AD France – Dr Jean-Claude Lapraz conducts in-depth research of essential oils, their benefits and properties

1985 AD USA – D. Gary Young, widely considered to be the father of the modern-day essential oils movement, brings back essential oils from Europe and begins a decades-long journey towards rediscovering their uses and benefits

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