Arab physicians played an important role in the development of medicine especially in the therapeutic use of odors. When the School of Philosophy at Athens was closed because of religious pressure, the works of Galen and Hippocrates had to be smuggled out. By the third century the city of Alexandria became the new Athens where chemists perfected the process of distillation. In the tenth century the physician Avincenna improved this process by inventing the refrigerated coil for the extraction of essential oils, effectively doubling the Arabic production. The Arab influence actually convinced physicians to use essential oils for purifying, restorative and reviving effects. Aromatics were making a comeback. Pleasant odors were linked with ensuring good health and preventing the spread of disease especially during times of plague.
By the Middle Ages, the therapeutic use of the ‘perfumes of Arabia' had spread all over Europe. Pomanders originating in the East were hollow spheres usually made out of gold or silver and contained solid perfumes which of course only the rich could afford. These were hung around the neck to protect against plagues and other diseases. Many today use aromatic lockets around their necks to help protect against airborne illnesses or to purify the air. In the Middle Ages they would use oils like musk, aloes, cinnamon and ambergris in these little aromatherapy lockets. In Britain, they also used scent boxes and 'tussie mussies' which were little posies of aromatic herbs. They also strewed aromatic herbs on their floors-rose petals, lemon leaves, chamomile and other herbs.
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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These oils include Frankincense, Myrrh, Cedarwood, Spikenard and Balsam Fir. While you are at our web site, check out our aromatherapy program and our program in Christian energy healing.
From Linda L. Smith, director of the Institute of Spiritual Ministry and Aromatherapy, Inc.