History of Essential Oils

History of Essential Oils

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History of Essential Oils

Essential oils have a long history that crosses multiple civilizations for thousands of years. Some of the oldest cultures on this earth saw the value in using essential oils for medicinal treatments and wellness properties.

The Egyptians

The use of essential oils has a history that reaches back as far as 4500 BC in Egypt. Egyptians chose to take advantage of the unique benefits of using plants and herbs for medicinal, cosmetic and aroma purposes. The Egyptians are infamous for their use of essential oils for healing, aromatherapy, and cosmetic purposes. For example, plants, oils and pastes were commonly used as ointments, suppositories and medicines.


Many citizens used body oil every day to moisturize and shield the skin from the damaging rays of the sun. These essential oils were natural skin rejuvenates. They helped to protect skin from burns and early wrinkles.

Hygiene Practices

Egyptians held cleanliness and personal hygiene in high standards. Egyptians used essential oils not only to protect their skin or for their aromatic properties, but they used these oils to prevent disease.


Ancient Egyptian culture is perhaps most noted for their use of these scented oils in their mummification practices. Egyptians used these aromatic plants to embalm the bodies of the deceased and prepare them for burial. Early embalmers chose to use a variety of essential oils including cedar, juniper oil, myrrh, frankincense and cinnamon were all used to prepare the bodies of Egypt’s elite.

The Chinese

Essential oil use among the Chinese is recorded as having taken place as early as 2697, during the reign of Huang Ti. The “Yellow Emperor” created several uses for the aromatic oils that practitioners of Eastern medicine continue to leverage. Shen Nung, a Chinese practitioner, wrote an herbal book that featured information about more than 400 plants. This book is among the oldest surviving medical books from an ancient civilization. Today, China is one of the largest producers of essential oils in the world.


3000 years ago, India also adopted the use of aromatic oils. According to the Vedas literature, more than 700 different substances were used for medicines an essential oils. Information about ginger, sandalwood, and cinnamon to name a few received high praises.

The Greeks

Greeks were the first to begin using essential oils on the European continent. Hippocrates, the “father of medicine” who gained his knowledge from India, included more than 300 plants as a component of aromatic oils in his treatment of Roman soldiers as well as during the plague in Athens. The Greeks used oils such as lavender in their perfume but also as a bathing and cooking agent.