Essential Oil Use Throughout History

Essential Oil Use Throughout History

A variety of plants cover the Earth in different shapes, sizes, colors, and scents. Many of these plants contain compounds that typically can’t be seen with the naked eye—they hide within the roots, flowers, seeds, bark, or other areas of the plant. These compounds are known as essential oils. They are highly concentrated, making them extremely potent. Also referred to as volatile aromatic compounds, essential oils give a plant its aroma, protect it from harsh environmental conditions and insects, and even play a part in plant pollination.

Even though some people may view oils as a new trend, history shows that ancient civilizations used plants for things such as aromatherapy, personal care, religious ceremonies, beauty treatments, and food preparation.


  • Egypt: Egyptians used plant  plant-based products. Essential Oil therapy was use in burial rituals, and religious ceremonies. Essential oils where used as beauty treatments, food preparations, burial rituals, and also in religious ceremonies.  Archaeologists discovered alabaster jars that contained essential oils in King Tut’s tomb when it was opened in 1923. Egyptian Temples where found to contain essential oil blends written in hieroglyphics.
  • Greece: In ancient Greece, men like Hippocrates explored the aromatic uses of plants, documenting over 200 different herbs in is lifetime. Theophrastus is know as the “Founder of Bontany”, which is the science of plant life. He studied how specific scents and different flowers’ aromatic properties affected people’s emotions.
  • Rome: Ancient Romans often used plant extracts for massage, perfume, and scented baths.
  • Iran: In medieval times, people in the region of Iran often used and traded spices or resins for perfumery and maintaining health.
  • India: Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic healing system native to India, has developed over the span of 5,000 years and includes the use of aromatic and plant compounds.
  • China: Traditional Chinese practices pioneered the use of plant materials to promote wellness. The oldest surviving text regarding it is Shennong’s Herbal, dated around 2700 B.C. The Chinese understood that herbs have specific actions and properties such as cooling, warming, invigorating or sedating.
  • France: Rene Gattefosse, a French chemist, is credited as the first to coin the phrase “aromatherapy” as he studied and researched essential oils thoroughly in the 19th century.

Essential Oil techniques from Greece and Roman traveled to Europe as civilizations transferred world power. These techniques where improved and many of the distillations process from that time are still used today.

For more information on the fundamentals of essential oils, visit the blog spotlight page here.

Now that you know what an essential oil is and where essential oils come from, it is time to learn how to use them. You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy of benefits of essential oils and natural products. Join me for classes or email me at for a 1 to 1 consultation.

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The Essential Oil Institute

doTerra International


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