Essential Oils were also used in the production of perfumes in ancient times. The world's first recorded chemist is considered to be a woman named Tapputi, a perfume maker who was mentioned in a cuneiform tablet from the 2nd millennium BC in Mesopotamia. She distilled flowers, oil, and calamus with other aromatics then filtered and put them back in the still several times.
In 2005, archaeologists uncovered what are believed to be the world's oldest perfumes in Pyrgos, Cyprus. The perfumes date back more than 4,000 years. The perfumes were discovered in an ancient perfumery. At least 60 stills, mixing bowls, funnels and perfume bottles were found in the 43,000-square-foot (4,000 m2) factory.
The evidence that Essential Oils have been used for a very, very long time as medicines is well documented in hieroglyphics and ancient manuscripts. A scroll that is carbon dated to 1500 B.C. reveals over 100 Egyptian remedies that use essential oil.
When King Tut’s tomb was opened in 1922, fifty alabaster mason jars designed to hold oil were found. The oils had been stolen by thieves who left gold in the tomb. In fact, in many cultures, essential oil was more valuable than gold.
The oldest surviving medicine book in China written by Shen Nong Shi in 300 B.C. shows over 350 herbs and their medicinal uses along with how to use essential oils. Tea which acts as an antidote against the poisonous effects of some seventy herbs, is also said to be his discovery.
The Arab chemist, Al-Kindi (Abu Yūsuf Yaʻqūb ibn ʼIsḥāq aṣ-Ṣabbāḥ al-Kindī (c. 801–873 CE) also known as Alkindus, wrote the Book of the Chemistry of Perfume and Distillations in the 9th century, which contained more than a hundred recipes for fragrant oils, salves, aromatic waters and substitutes or imitations of costly drugs. The book also described 107 methods and recipes for perfume-making and perfume making equipment, such as the alembic (which still bears its Arabic name).
There are more than thirty treatises attributed to al-Kindi in the field of medicine,in which he was chiefly influenced by the ideas of Galen. His most important work in this field is probably De Gradibus, in which he demonstrates the application of mathematics to medicine, particularly in the field of pharmacology. For example, he developed a mathematical scale to quantify the strength of drug and a system, based on the phases of the moon, that would allow a doctor to determine in advance the most critical days of a patient's illness.
The Persian chemist Ibn Sina (son of Sina c.980-1037), also known as Avicenna, introduced the process of extracting oils from flowers by means of distillation, the procedure most commonly used today.
Ibn Sina (Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā) or Avicenna, wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived. In particular, 150 of his surviving treatises concentrate on philosophy and 40 of them concentrate on medicine.
His most famous works are The Book of Healing, a vast philosophical and scientific encyclopaedia, and The Canon of Medicine, which was a standard medical text at many medieval universities. The Canon of Medicine was used as a text-book in the universities of Montpellier and Leuven as late as 1650.
Ibn al-Baitar (Ibn al-Bayṭār al-Mālaqī, Ḍiyāʾ Al-Dīn Abū Muḥammad ʿAbdllāh Ibn Aḥmad (1188-1248) was a Muslim scientist, botanist and physician who worked during the Islamic Golden Age and Arab Agricultural Revolution. He systematically recorded the discoveries made by Islamic physicians in the Middle Ages, and left a pharmaceutical encyclopedia listing 1,400 plants, foods and drugs.
Ibn al-Baitar also provides detailed chemical information on the Rosewater and Orangewater production. He mentions: The scented Shurub (Syrup) was often extracted from flowers and rare leaves, by means of using hot oils and fat, they were later cooled in cinnamon oil. The oils used were also extracted from sesame and olives. Essential oil was produced by joining various retorts, the steam from these retorts condensed, combined and its scented droplets were used as perfume and mixed to produce the most costly medicines.
Ibn Al-Baitar’s second major work is Kitāb al-mughnī fī al-adwiya al-mufradaa, an encyclopedia of Islamic medicine which incorporates his knowledge of plants used extensively for the treatment of various ailments & diseases.
Rene Maurice Gattefosse (1881-1950) coined the term aromatherapy. He was working in his lab one day and suffered a severe burn. Reaching for something to numb the pain, he grabbed a vial of lavender oil. His burn healed without infection, and he experienced only minor pain and swelling.
For Gattefosse, this confirmed what ancient people knew all along; once essential oil is absorbed by the body it reacts with body chemistry to promote healing. Because of Gattefosse’s discovery, Dr, Jean Valet used essential oils to treat wounds and infections during World War II.
In 1937 Rene Maurice Gattefosse published Aromathérapie, which was a collection of previous articles on the therapeutic effects of essential oils, based on clinical observations made by doctors Jonquières and Gaté. The second edition of Aromathérapie was prepared in 1942, but was never published: it seems that the development of contemporary antibiotics condemed this work.
Madame Marguerite Maury (1895-1968) was an Austrian born biochemist who became interested in what was to become Aromatherapy. While she was working with a surgeon in Alsace she read a book written in 1838 by Dr Chabenes called, 'Les Grandes Possibilités par les Matières Odoriferantes'. This was the man who would later become the teacher of Rene Maurice Gattefosse. The book became Marguerite Maury's Bible and set her on her journey with Aromatherapy. Her influential book, 'Le Capital Jeunesse' was released in France in 1961 but sadly did not initially receive the acclaim that it deserved. In 1964 it was released in Britain under the title of 'The Secret of Life and Youth' and has at last been recognised for the great work that it was.
In the 1950′s Marguerite Maury used diluted essential oil in a carrier oil and applied it directly to the skin using Tibetan Massage techniques. She designed specific mixtures depending on individual needs. She died on September 25th. 1968, her last manuscript was found beside her bed. It began,'The aromatherapy involved in cosmethology can lead to the most etraordinary of results.'
Essential Oils and Aromatherapy are gaining more and more ground in mainstream medicine. With consumers becoming more discerning about the importance of toxic free and organic ways to heal, essential oils are now being seen as an invaluable resource worth study and recognition.
Today, most common essential oils — such as lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus — are distilled. Raw plant material, consisting of the flowers, leaves, wood, bark, roots, seeds, or peel, is put into an alembic (distillation apparatus) over water. As the water is heated, the steam passes through the plant material, vaporizing the volatile compounds. The vapors flow through a coil, where they condense back to liquid, which is then collected in the receiving vessel.
Most oils are distilled in a single process. One exception is ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata), which takes 22 hours to complete through a fractional distillation.
The recondensed water is referred to as a hydrosol, hydrolat, herbal distillate or plant water essence, which may be sold as another fragrant product. Popular hydrosols include rose water, lavender water, lemon balm, clary sage and orange blossom water. The use of herbal distillates in cosmetics is increasing. Some plant hydrosols have unpleasant smells and are therefore not sold.
Most citrus peel oils are expressed mechanically or cold-pressed (similar to olive oil extraction). Due to the relatively large quantities of oil in citrus peel and low cost to grow and harvest the raw materials, citrus-fruit oils are cheaper than most other essential oils. Lemon or sweet orange oils that are obtained as byproducts of the citrus industry are even cheaper.
Before the discovery of distillation, all essential oils were extracted by pressing.
The Enfluerage fragrance extraction is by far one of the oldest and most expensive method in history. It was once the sole method of extracting the fragrant compounds in delicate floral botanicals such as jasmine and tuberose. Their fragrances would be destroyed or denatured by the high temperatures required by methods such as steam distillation. This method is now superseded by solvent extraction or supercritical fluid extraction using liquid carbon dioxide.
In cold Enfluerage, a large framed plate of glass, called a chassis, is smeared with a layer of animal fat, usually lard or tallow (from pork or beef, respectively), and allowed to set. Botanical matter, usually petals or whole flowers, is then placed on the fat and its scent is allowed to diffuse into the fat over the course of 1-3 days. The process is than repeated by replacing the spent botanicals with fresh ones until the fat has reached a desired degree of fragrance saturation.
This procedure was developed in southern France in the 19th century for the production of high-grade concentrates.
In hot Enfleurage, solid fats are heated and botanical matter is stirred into the fat. Spent botanicals are repeatedly strained from the fat and replaced with fresh material until the fat is saturated with fragrance. This method is the oldest known procedure for preserving plant fragrance substances.
In both instances, once the fat is saturated with fragrance, it is then called the 'enfleurage pomade'. The enfleurage pomade was either sold as is, or it could be futher washed or soaked in ethyl alcohol to draw the fragrant molecules into the alcohol. The alcohol is then separated from the fat and allowed to evaporate, leaving behind the absolute of the botanical matter. The spent fat, still relatively fragrant, was usually used to make soaps.
- Blessed Be
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