Aromatherapy Herbs, Myths, and Mythology
A brief history of aromatherapy
Aromatic plants have been used for therapeutic benefits from time immemorial. Whether it is Ancient Egypt, India, China, or the Roman civilisation, plants are being used for health-related benefits. In India, the ancient Indian medicinal system known as Ayurveda made use of plants. Ayurveda considers aroma a key tool to help prevent health problems and improve health.
The sense of smell is the most powerful among the five senses. Inhaling the aroma of essential oils obtained from plants can have a stimulatory effect on the body. This is why ancient civilisations used to prepare incense from plants. The Egyptian civilisation was known for its use of fragrant oils. The Greeks learned this from the Egyptians and began to use aromatherapy.
Theophrastus, a student of Aristotle and Plato, was one of the first to make a list of aromatic plants and their usage. These aromatic essences began to be used widely to make perfumes during the middle ages. Because this was the period when wars led to widespread deaths, the aroma from plants was used to mask the scent of death.
Aromatherapy, as a science, first came into being during the 20th century. Italian scientists were among the first to formally distill essential oils and study their effects. Since then, aromatherapy has grown in popularity as a safe and effective way to get therapeutic benefits.
10 Aromatic Herbs Myths and mysterious stories
There is an interesting history to bergamot. It is believed that it was Christopher Columbus who brought this tree to Spain from the Caribbean. From there, it reached Bergamo in Italy, where it got its name. There are references in poetry where Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) has been described as 'Aphrodite's apple'.
The fruit began to be cultivated extensively due to its essential oil. Over time, people realised that bergamot oil had positive health benefits. They also grew this fruit because of its use in preparing various food products. There are more than 150 products that use bergamot. It is famously used to prepare Earl Grey Tea.
The essential oil of this fruit comes from its peel. This oil is known to offer various therapeutic benefits. Studies have shown that it can help in reducing stress. People suffering from anxiety and depression can benefit when they inhale this scent. It is believed that the aroma stimulates the brain to release serotonin and dopamine that, helps to improve mood.
Being a citrus spray it is a popular essential oil to use in a reed diffuser. The aroma is perfect to help charge you up and give you an energy booster when you need it the most.
The use of mint dates back to the early civilisations, with enough evidence to suggest it was used in Greece, Rome, and Egypt. There are records of how peppermint (Mentha piperita) was used when researchers found it in the tombs of Pharaohs. There is an interesting myth of mint being placed below food by Baucus and Philemon in ancient Romany mythology to please the Gods.
There are different types of mint, like horsemint and spearmint. While all these are used, it is peppermint that is most commonly used. The Romans would use the mint leaves infused in wine to release an aroma. The essential oil of peppermint is extracted from the dried leaves. Besides its aromatic use, mint leaves are also used as a spice while cooking food.
Studies have shown that people who suffer nausea after an operation benefit from inhaling peppermint oil. The essential oil is used to boost memory. Those who inhale this oil would be able to concentrate better. It is one of the oils used as a natural remedy for a common cold. When mixed with eucalyptus, its scent can help in relieving tension headaches.
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) can be literally translated as 'dew of the sea'. The word comes from the Latin words ros (dew) and marinus (sea). There are records of ancient Greek scholars wearing Rosemary garlands on their heads to improve their memory. Rosemary is associated with remembrance, which is why rosemary is placed on graves. It is said that the flowers were initially white but turned blue when the Virgin Mary placed them on her cloak.
Christians believe that rosemary grows for 33 years before the plant dies (just like Christ). This herb is used in cooking various recipes. Its use in aromatherapy is well documented. The essential oil is believed to improve brain function. A study showed how inhaling this scent in a classroom helped students to improve their ability to answer math questions.
People who suffer from conditions like Alzheimer's and dementia can benefit by inhaling this aroma. Inhaling this scent has a positive effect on mental health. It can help reduce anxiety and stress. Studies have shown stress hormone levels reduce when the oil is inhaled. If you feel fatigued, inhaling the rosemary scent can help you recharge with enhanced alertness.
Lavandula augustifolia and Lavandula latifolia are the two variants of lavender commonly used. The origin of lavender is believed to go back to the times of Adam and Eve. When they were thrown out of heaven, they took lavender with them. Reportedly, Cleopatra used lavender fragrance for her seductions. It is believed that Mary washed Jesus' clothes and hung them on the lavender plant.
His scent was transferred to the plant, giving lavender its effects. The Romans would use lavender in their baths to scent it. Lavender represents calmness. During the Victorian period, lavender was used to signify pure love that could not be expressed in public. The essential oil prepared from lavender has multiple benefits to offer. It is one of the most popular essential oils used in aromatherapy.
Lavender produces a calming effect on the mind. Hence, it is used to provide relief from anxiety. Studies have shown post-partum women reduced their depression by inhaling lavender. Thanks to its calming effect, it can be very helpful for people suffering from sleep problems. It can help improve sleep quality and duration, especially in the elderly.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a herb whose medicinal value was known by the Greeks centuries ago. The word is derived from oros (mountain) and ganos (brilliance). The herb was known as the brilliant joy of the mountain. This name came about because of its numerous benefits. In those days, oregano was supposed to bring good luck and ensure good health. The Greeks believed that Aphrodite, the Goddess of love, created this herb.
Even in now Greece, oregano is worn on crowns during the marriage. Being a symbol of joy & happiness, it is ideal for a wedding. Oregano is known for its use in cooking. The essential oil offers many health benefits. It was none other than Hippocrates who first used this oil for health benefits. When used in aromatherapy, it can produce an energised effect. Using this oil with a diffuser helps to boost immunity. This is done since it makes the work of the respiratory system effective and can soothe throat irritation symptoms.
Eucalyptus camaludensis is one of the common variants of this tree. Its origin can be traced back to Australia. In fact, nearly 75% of all forests in Australia are Eucalypt forests. Its unique character is that its seeds survive forest fires and can grow again. There is a strong association between the Koala bear and the Eucalyptus tree. The Koala prefers to only eat Eucalyptus leaves because of their unique flavour.
The leaves of eucalyptus contain essential oils that offer health benefits. For centuries, the oil has been used to treat colds and coughs. Many top products, such as Vicks Vaporub use eucalyptus oil in their formulation. It can help get relief from cough and can also help clear mucus. Inhaling the scent of this oil is very helpful in managing congestion.
This essential oil is a boon for people who suffer from respiratory problems like sinusitis and asthma. The aroma, when inhaled, can help clear mucus. This allows them to breathe freely and offers significant benefits. When used as a spray, it works as an insecticide and keeps bugs away. The oil is even used to make toothpaste and medicines for joint pain.
You can use it in a steam inhalation to get relief from cold and nose blockage due to allergies. It has disinfecting properties. Using it as a spray can help keep a room free of germs. It is one of the popular home fragrance Singapore products.
The ancients considered the sage plant (Salvia officinalis) a magical herb. It was referred to as the queen of herbs and spices. It used to be said that a person who has sage in his garden need not fear death. Such were the health benefits of this herb! It was considered a sacred plant and a symbol of fertility. The ancient Greeks used this herb extensively for medicinal purposes.
There are references to the use of sage in different cultures. Even medical texts during the early part of the twentieth century mentioned the use of sage as a gargle to reduce sore throat symptoms. The essential oil of sage is derived from its leaves and has many benefits in aromatherapy. When inhaled, the essential oil has a stimulating effect on the mind. It can help improve mental health by uplifting mood.
If you are exhausted and feeling mentally drained, inhaling a sage scent can help you feel refreshed. There are many other benefits of diffusing this scent using a reed diffuser. It is believed that inhaling the oil is beneficial for many digestive and respiratory problems. In aromatherapy, this oil also benefits the female reproductive system.
Matricaria chamomile has been in use since the time of the Egyptians. The plant was associated with the Sun God by the Egyptians. Interestingly, chamomile was one of the ingredients used by the Egyptians in the mummification process. The Romans, Greeks, and Vikings also used chamomile. The ancients preferred to use this plant because of its vast medicinal benefits. They used to use it to treat malaria. Other interesting things about chamomile are:
- Growing chamomile benefits plants growing nearby.
- The herb is associated with masculinity.
- Chamomile comes from Chamaemelum, meaning 'earth apple'.
The ancients used chamomile to amplify magic spells. They believed that using this plant in the magic spells would strengthen their power. Gamblers would wash their hands in chamomile tea, believing this would bring them luck. Chamomile tea is well-known and offers many benefits. The essential oil of chamomile offers many therapeutic benefits and is used extensively in aromatherapy.
Inhaling chamomile's scent can help reduce stress and anxiety symptoms. Most patients in a study reported reduced depression by inhaling chamomile. It produces a soothing and calming effect. It can help people relax and are helpful in managing insomnia.
Thyme is a herb that is related to oregano. Thymus vulgaris is the most common herb used. In ancient Egypt, thyme was used as a medicinal herb. The Greeks liked its fragrance and grew the herb. They used the herb to prepare incense. A fascinating fact is that the word thyme is derived from the Greek word thymiama, which means incense. It belongs to the Thymus genus of plants, and the word means courage.
The Greeks believed the incense of this herb would fill their courage.
In ancient France, the plant was believed to drive away snakes by its smell. It is also believed that this plant was in the manger's hay in which Christ was born. Thyme is a known antiseptic and has been used medicinally from ages. The essential oil is very useful in aromatherapy.
Inhaling the scent of thyme can fill you with energy and can strengthen both mind & body. During times of anxiety or stress, inhaling thyme scent can be helpful. It helps to refresh you and fills you with confidence. It is no wonder that the ancient Greeks used it for courage. The aroma can also help deal with common flu symptoms.
Basil is considered a sacred plant. Ocimum basilicus has been considered a royal or kingly herb. In fact, the word is derived from the Greek word basilikon, which means royal. It is believed that basil originated in India, where it is called Tulsi. Most homes in India have the basil plant, and the plant is worshipped as it is considered sacred. The plant has been used for centuries for its healing effects.
There were strict rules to picking the leaves of the Basil plant during the Middle Ages. People had to wash their hands in three springs before touching the plant. Basil was considered a miraculous plant used to chase ghosts and demons away. It is used in cooking and has medicinal properties. The essential oil of basil is obtained from the leaves and has many therapeutic effects.
It is a stimulating scent that helps to uplift one's mood. It helps to energise and is useful when a person is feeling mentally tired. Along with its energising effect, it also has a calming effect. You can also use it to manage respiratory conditions. When a spray is prepared from this oil, it helps to chase away insects. Bacteria that cause odours can be kept away by using it as a home scent.
Now that you know more about the herbs used in aromatherapy, you can use these herbs and essential oils made from them in your home. Shiora's pure essential oil Singapore products would be a great option. Use them with Shiora's aromatherapy diffuser and fill your home with a pleasant fragrance, while getting the benefits of aromatherapy.