Massage therapy is one of the powerful uses of essential oils for healing purposes. Aromatherapy using essential oils has been a part of healing traditions for many thousands of years. In fact, according to anthropologists, perfumery began via the burning of gums and resins as incense and smudging with plants. Smudging involves setting fire to various herbs, blowing out the flame and using the residual smoke for cleansing, healing, purification, or prayer rituals.
In the ancient Egyptian culture, the priests (who were also doctors) used resins, balms, and fragrant oils for magical, religious, and embalming purposes, as well as an offering to the gods. Scented ointments and oils were used by many ancient cultures for both physical and psychological healing.
The physician known as the father of medicine, Hippocrates, felt that an aromatic bath and an aromatherapy massage daily were the key to good health. That was 2,500 years ago. Many of the herbs and essential oils used today were recommended by Greek physician and medic to the Roman army, Pedanius Dioscorides in De Materia Medico. His 5-volume encyclopedia of herbal medicine and essential oils was used for more than 1,500 years.
Historically, the Chinese also used herbs and aromatic plants for healing. Herbal medicine has also been part of the foundation of India’s Ayurvedic medical system. During the Dark Ages the Arabian empire drew on the Greek, Roman, Chinese and Indian legacy, and a Persian scientist, Ibn Sīnā, is credited with creating the distillation process for essential oils.