Colour & Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is the art and science of application of essential oils from plants, herbs, flowers, gums, resins and fruits to improve and maintain well-being of body, emotion, mind and spirit.
History of Aromatherapy
The use of plants and their oils has been around in one form or another for about 4000 years. The Chinese are generally credited with using them first, before the practice moved steadily west wards, via India and the Middle East. Medicinal plants and aromatics were a fact of daily life for the Egyptions, who used them in religious ceremenonies as medicine, for embalming and as perfume. Greek physicians brought back increased knowledge of essential oils from Egypt to Europe and aromatic oils are mentioned in both Greek mythology and the Bible.
The Romans first brought them to Britian, chiefly for perfuming, but it was the Knights of the Crusades during the 11th century who brought back aromatic essences for general purposes. During the Middle Ages they were used to combat diseases like cholera and as protection against the plague- mainly by burning them or wearing them in amulates around the neck. Since nearly all essential oils have excellent antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties, this wasn’t quite as futile as it might sound today.
By 1700 AD essential oils were widely used in medicines and this situation lasted until the science of chemistry allowed the synthesis of material in the laboratory. There was little sympathy from the scientists for the ‘Vital Life Force’ point of view held by Aromatherapists and generally it was thought better to isolate the active therapeutic principles from plants and use them alone, or manufacture them synthetically thereby having them cheap and in quantity.
But early this century a French Chemist named Gattefosse accidentally rediscovered their healing properties (and first coined the term ‘aromatherapy’) when, after burning his hand during an experiment , he plunged it into the nearest cold liquid – essential oil of lavender. The burn healed quickly and perfectly and his subsequent book on the subject was the basis for using essential oils to treat injururies during the First World War. Much of the work during the war was carried out by the French physician, Dr Jean Valnet , though the practice at the time didn’t involve massage. (whole book on Aromatherapy is still available).
Valnet’s belief in the superiority of natural oils was shared by Marguerite Maury, an Austrain biochemist who is generally credited with pioneering the modern approached to aromatherapy. She developed a style of treatment which relied as much on the ancient oriental art of massage as on the properties of the oils themselves.