The power of essential oils
The incredible healing, soothing and nourishing properties of essential oils, or aromatic oils as they used to be known, are some of the key ingredients in Vanessa Megan products. Natural oils derived from plants are the perfect antidote to the harmful chemicals found in many other skincare products. So, when did people first start using essential oils and what’s so great about them?
A brief history
Essential oils were used thousands of years ago in Egypt (as early as 4500 B.C.), China (between 2697-2597 B.C.) and India (3,000 years ago) for medicinal purposes, with each group recognising the powerful qualities of the aromatic liquids found in many different kinds of plants. The Egyptians also used essential oils in cosmetics and as part of religious ceremonies, including as part of the embalming process using cedarwood, myrrh and frankincense.
The Greeks and Romans learnt a great deal about aromatics from the Egyptians, using oils for healing and as protection against contagious diseases. Hippocrates (C. 460 BC – c. 370 BC), known as the father of Western medicine, used aromatherapy baths as part of his treatments and used spices and oils to fumigate Athens and rid it of the plague.
Drawing from the experience of the Greeks, Romans, China and India, the Arabian empire embraced the use of aromatic oils, with Persian physician Avicenna (980 – 1,037 AD) perfecting the distillation process of essential oils.
Essential oils were used throughout Europe by monks during the Dark Ages to tend to the sick with many of the oils having anti-bacterial properties. Throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance the use of essential oils continued in use by both physicians and perfumers. During terrible plagues that swept through Europe, it is reported that certain occupations seemed to escape these plagues, including perfumers and tanners who scented their leather gloves before selling them. Doctors were also spared due to their knowledge of the powerful protective qualities of certain oils.
The remarkable properties of essential oils
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, we began to see the reintroduction of essential oils into modern medicine. In France during WWI Dr Moncière took advantage of the antibacterial qualities of essential oils and used them to aid in the healing of soldiers with wounds, and then during WWII Dr Jean Valnet used essential oils on his patients.
The term ‘aromatherapy’ was created by a French chemist, Dr. René-Maurice Gattefossé, who wrote a book of the same name in 1937 detailing his account of healing a serious burn with lavender oil.
Much research has confirmed what civilisations knew thousands of years ago – that essential oils have antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic and antifungal properties, along with healing capabilities.
However, the benefits of essential oils don’t end there. From releasing stress, promoting relaxation and relieving PMS, through to improving concentration, providing pain relief or simply for use as a gorgeous scent or perfume, essential oils possess truly remarkable properties.
How to use essential oils
There are number of different ways you can enjoy all the benefits of essential oils. Here is a selection of the most popular:
Aromatherapy massage: A very relaxing and indulgent experience, you don’t need to go to a professional to enjoy one of these. Ask a willing partner and then choose your favoured oil or a blend of oils.
Facial steam: For a deep cleansing steam, simply add five or six drops in a bowl of hot water.
Inhalation: A fabulous way to clear your sinus when you’re blocked up, add five to six drops of oil to a bowl of hot water and put a towel over your head to capture the steam.
Bath: Adding five to 10 drops in a warm bath is a wonderful way to enjoy essential oils and offers a number of benefits, from relaxation and soothing sore muscles to treating colds and flu.
Compress: A hot compress with essential oils is great for relieving pain, muscle aches and cramps while a cold compress helps reduce swelling, sprains and headaches.
At Vanessa Megan, we’ve drawn on the wisdom and experience of thousands of years to bring you a range of natural products that use the power of essential oils to make your skin look and feel fabulous, or simply smell wonderful. And we love sharing our passion for the amazing qualities essential oils posses with you!
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