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History of aromatherapy

history of aroma therapy

Ayurveda considers aroma blends to be more effective than single aromas because of the added benefits of synergy and balance.

Aromatherapy, the therapeutic use of essential oils, is one of the most popular techniques of natural medicine practiced today.

History of Aromatherapy

The first form of aromatherapy utilized different kinds of burning woods. The use of smoke in the form of incense has survived in almost all cultures.

The Egyptians used aromatics 5,000 years ago for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. The Greeks used olive oil to absorb the odor from flower petals and herbs. Arab physicians perfected the method of distilling essential oils and brought them to Europe. By the 16th century, the women of the household made all kinds of remedies for home use.

The new sciences of chemistry and pharmacology, however, reduced these practices to superstition, thus discouraging the use of aromatherapy until the beginning of the 20th century, when a succession of French chemists started to research the healing properties of essential oils. The first among them, Rene Maurice Gattefosse, turned his attention to the use of oils in dermatology after he discovered how lavender oil healed his burned hand. He coined the word "aromatherapy" in 1928 and published a book by the same title in 1937.

In the eastern cultures of India and China, however, the tradition remained unbroken. Vaidyas, ayurvedic physicians, treated people with dried and fresh herbs, floral waters and aromatherapy oil massage.

Aromatherapy in Ayurveda

Ayurveda considers the use of aroma as an important tool for prevention and healing. Practitioners use it for protecting the vital force, prana, regulating digestion and metabolism, agni, and increasing resistance to disease, ojas. Traditional ayurvedic practices include fumigation by burning neem leaves, use of holy basil or rose petals in water while bathing, and burning incense sticks during meditation.

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How to improve calcium intake and absorption the Ayurvedic way

Getting enough calcium in your diet is only half the battle--the other half is absorbing it. Mahirishi Ayurveda shares with us tips for improving Calcium intake and absorption:

  1. Eat foods that are easy for the body to digest.
  2. Eat the biggest meal at mid-day, when the digestive fire is strongest.
  3. Avoid caffeine and refined carbohydrates such as sugar.
  4. Avoid cold or iced drinks, which decrease the digestive fire.
  5. Do a daily warm oil massage (abhyanga). It helps enhance digestion and flush away impurities, and is traditionally known to stimulate bone growth.
  6. Go to bed by 10 p.m. so your body is at rest during its natural purification cycle from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
  7. Eat plenty of foods that are high in calcium, such as sesame seeds, green leafy vegetables, walnuts, coconut and coconut milk. Warm whole milk is also an excellent calcium-booster, but choose unhomogenized milk for greater absorption. To enhance digestion, drink your milk separate from meals.
  8. Avoid vegetables from the nightshade family, including eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, and yellow, red and green sweet peppers.

Foods to favour:

coconut and coconut watermilk and fruitspinach and green, leafy vegetableswalnuts

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The spiritual etiquette of eating

The act of eating is life-giving. The process of eating, according to ayurveda, is something reverent and important for the development of consciousness as well as our physical health.

Our bodies need an uplifting and settled environment in order to process and absorb the nutrients from our meals. If that is not available then we should at least be sitting down to eat -- not standing, walking, or driving our way through a meal.

Click to read a Sanskrit prayer before meals

South Indian wedding lunch thali

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Ayurveda tip - Digestion

Eat your main meal at midday, when your digestion is strongest. It is the high pitta time of the day. The fire is high and food gets digested with minimal waste.

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