Why Does Everyone Love Essential Oils?

5 minutes read

The Dawn of Civilisation

With so much to learn about essential oils, it is to no one's surprise that aromatherapy has evolved and found its way from age-old practices into society today. One of these modern practices involves something most of us do every day, yet something which we often take for granted - taking a shower. From ancient Roman baths to modern-day shower steamers, the use of essential oils not only capture the essence of a botanical but rather a snapshot of a grand lineage beginning at the dawn of human civilisation.
 
 
To better understand just how breathtakingly rejuvenating and nurturing essential oils can be when it comes time to cleanse, we must take a glimpse back in time to where these valuable oils first surfaced and how aromatherapy has evolved over thousands of years of exploration.

A Sublime Gift

Dating back to biblical times, according to Matthew 2:1-12, King Herod came to visit an infant Jesus of Nazareth and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. What are frankincense and myrrh? And what about these items made them worthy of gifting alongside something as precious as gold?
 
Both frankincense and myrrh are both aromatic tree resins. Frankincense, or olibanum, is obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, while Myrrh is extracted from the thorny tree species of the genus Commiphora. Historically, frankincense was often burned as incense in religious rituals, while myrrh was used as ingredient for perfume. Above their emotionally grounding aromatic compounds, these oils were also valued for their medicinal and healing properties.

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt was the birthplace of what we know refer to as aromatherapy. The Egyptians would cultivate exotic plants for their precious oils, finding a use for them in everything from wellness to religion. At that time, they were used by royalities and members of high courts for cosmetics and erotic purposes, and resins were also used in embalming processes to prepare bodies for the afterlife.
 
While Ancient Egyptians were busy producing essential oils through a type of solvent extraction method, both ancient Chinese and Indian scholars were actively studying plants and herbs too to compile what were the earliest known forms of eastern medicine. Their findings would later constitute a part of eastern medicine systems, including what is commonly now known as the Ayurvedic medical system.
 

Ancient Greece & the Romans

Fast forward from about 3500 BC to 460 BC, the ancient Greeks, likely through trade, were influenced and believed that these essential oils could be an all-powerful, holistic source for healing and wellness. Hippocrates, a Greek physician of the Age of Pericles, whom we refer to today when doctors swear the 'hippocratic oath', was an enthusiatic advocate for essential oils, upholding that the oils would be beneficial for his massage therapy.
The Gardens of Adonis, an 1888 painting by John Reinhard Wkeguelin depicts women bearing the container-grown plants and festal rose garlands to dispose of in the sea, as part of the festival of Adonis.
It was no surprise that the Romans also encouraged these advancements in holistic health and hygiene. When we think of the word "Roman," it's likely the word "bath" comes to mind. Roman cities were the first in the world to incorporate public baths into their urban planning, for their citizens to bathe, relax, and socialize.
 
These public baths were filled with shelves containing pots and jars full of essential oils, and Romans would use these oils to scent their bodies and hair. Rose oil was used by both men and women to scent their baths. Lavender oil was perhaps the most widely used, particularly as an aromatic for bathing, as it comes from the word "lavare," meaning 'to wash.' Like the others before them, Roman citizens also appreciated essential oils for their medicinal purposes and used oils and herbs daily. In fact, Roman soldiers carried myrrh with them as an antiseptic to use when wounded in battle.
 
a 19th Century painting by John Whitehead Walton

Essential Oils Distill Nature

What exactly is aromatherapy, and why are essential oils still so valuable after all of this time?
 
Essential oils are mixtures of aromatic chemicals that are present in plant material. Most of these essential oils are obtained using one of two processes: steam distillation of plant materials or cold pressing of fruit peels. Following a steam distillation process, the plant material is placed on a screen in a steam still. Steam from a boiler then rises and vaporizes the essential oil in the plant material. The steam and oil are then condensed into a liquid. As oil has a lower density than water, it floats to the top, and the collection flask is drained from the bottom, harvesting the pure oil that is extracted.
 

“Allow things in your life which make your heart sing, feed your soul or nourish you on a daily basis.”

― Andrew Pacholyk

Simple to Use

There are three main ways to use essential oils: through smell, on the skin, or through ingesting* (we do not recommend the ingestion of essential oils without first consulting your GP, as certain oils are not meant to be consumed and can be toxic). The scent is the "aromatic use" of essential oils. Aromatherapy teachings tell us that selected essential oils carry unique, characteristic aromas that are said to have unique benefits for your emotional and mental wellbeing. The aromas of oils is primarily sense through a diffuser and can also be used in perfume. When it comes to physical health, essential oils are widely used for massage, as they were in ancient times, as well as infused into skincare lotions or moisturizers. When applied topically, the oil absorbs into the skin and improves its glow and texture.
 
As you can see, these tiny yet potent bottles of oil carry significant value for so many aspects of one's health. Perhaps one of their more popular uses in hot spas and saunas. When just a few drops of essential oil are added to a sauna water bucket, the steam gives off the fragrance once water is poured over the sauna stones.
 
Maybe it is all this talk of essential oils and baths, but it honestly sounds more divine right now. It turns out I am not the only one, either. From bath bombs to body washes, essential oils have become increasingly popular in bath time products, so there are many ways to infuse them into your bath.
 
Aromatherapy is like the cherry on top of a luxurious bubble bath, and with so many essential oils, you get to create your perfect experience, from benefit to scent. Eucalyptus is always a popular choice for bath time for its ability to help relieve aches and pains. Mixing eucalyptus in with hot water is the perfect combination for sore muscles. Although eucalyptus does have a sharp smell, so some might choose to use oils like sweet orange or geranium instead. Citrus essential oils, such as lemon oil, is also a good option for bath time for its antimicrobial and detoxifying properties.
 
When it comes to bath time, there is one essential oil we have yet to mention. This oil is likely the most widely used in baths because it is so widely known to promote relaxation - lavender. When we think of taking a bath, it usually involves at least a half-hour commitment during our day or evening, at a time when we are feeling particularly stressed or called to relax for a little while. Unless you bathe regularly as opposed to shower, for most of us, a bath is like a luxury, which is why we want to make it as perfect and relaxing as it could be. A few drops of lavender essential oil in the bath can promote a sense of calm and relaxation and even a more restful sleep. So, especially if you are a nighttime bather, you can't go wrong with lavender.
 

Shower Steamers

You might be wondering, what about those of us who enjoy aromatherapy baths but rarely find the time? What if we only have access to a shower? Well, an attempt to evoke the same revitalizing feelings designed for everyone to benefit from, was what inspired our sublime shower steamers.
 
Our shower steamers are made from natural oils and fragrance blends, topped with menthol to bring this uplifting spa experience to your shower anytime you please. These invigorating steamers are meant to partially submerge in the water during your shower so they can continually release scents as they react to the water, or you can choose to paint the wet clay onto the surround walls to for a stronger, more immersive experience. It is wellness in a cube, as we like to call it.
 
From easing stress with the serene scent of lavender to regaining focus and clarity with the smell of sweet orange and rosemary, shower steamers are a therapeutic way to start or end any kind of day.

Works Cited

“Bible Gateway Passage: Matthew 2:1-12 - New International Version.” Bible Gateway, www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+2%3A1-12.

“History of Essential Oils.” History of Essential Oils | FGB Natural Products, www.fgb.com.au/content/history-essential-oils.

“History of the Development of Essential Oils:” Curious History, 14 Nov. 2017, www.curioushistory.com/history-of-the-development-of-essential-oils/.

“How to Use Essential Oils: DōTERRA Essential Oils.” DoTERRA, 2 Oct. 2020, www.doterra.com/US/en/using-essential-oils.

Schultz, Colin. “There's More to Frankincense and Myrrh Than Meets the Eye.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 24 Dec. 2014, www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/chemically-theres-lot-more-frankincense-and-myrrh-meets-eye-180953727/.

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