Dioscorides who wrote around the year 100 C. E. , mentions over 700 plants which were in use at that time. They formed the basis of the remedies used in the temples of Asclepius with their focus on psychic medicine. In his book De Materia Medica, he combines herbal lore of the Egyptians and Greeks and discusses the components of perfumes and their medicinal properties and then gives a detailed listing of recipes. Here is an example of a recipe for the perfume Susinum. It contained cardamom, cinnamon, lilies, myrrh, saffron, balanus, wine and honey. Nardinum contained calamus, cistus, cardamom, melissa, spikenard and myrrh.
So when did medicine change from the magical to one of objective observation and diagnosis?
It actually began with Hippocrates who was the son of a priest-physician of Asclepius. Hippocrates separated medicine from priest-practice by maintaining that disease was not due to possession by evil spirits but to an imbalance of fluid matter related to internal, emotional and external factors. His theory was based on the four elements and the four humors. He recognized a psychosomatic unity in mental and physical diseases. In his treatment, he recommended aromatics and maintained that the key to good health was in having a daily aromatic bath and scented massage. Disease now was regarded as arising from natural causes located within the physical body.
Following on his heels was the physician Galen who saw all disease-mental and physical-caused by disorders of the humors. He was quite disdainful of the Egyptian incantations and spells which the Egyptians priest-physicians spoke while picking their herbal drugs.
Besides using aromatics for physical problems, the Greeks used aromatic oils and incense for:
Want to know more about essential oils and how they can help us stay healthy? Consider becoming a certified clinical aromatherapist. The Institute of Spiritual Healing and Aromatherapy teaches classes throughout the United States on aromatherapy and energy healing.
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From Linda L. Smith, director of the Institute of Spiritual Ministry and Aromatherapy, Inc. We offer Christian continuing educational courses throughout the United States on prayer, energy healing and aromatherapy.