Massage and spa-like treatments have been enjoyed for thousands of years, and it is indeed difficult to pinpoint precisely when massage therapies and treatments like aromatherapy, reflexology, and others became popular. We do, however, have many fascinating historical examples of these therapies being brought to prominence.
The Ancient Egyptians: Aromatherapy Pioneers
Perhaps more than any other culture in antiquity, the ancient Egyptians truly had an infatuation with pampering healing massage, and they are thought by many to be the first to organize, categorize, and delineate a full system of aromatherapy. Very specific combinations and applications of many well-known essential oils can be found inscribed in the walls of ancient tombs and temples, or written on ancient preserved papyrus documents, throughout the Nile River delta.
The Value of Aromatherapy
Often, these aromatherapy “recipes” are found with complementary “how-to” guides of sorts that depict methodologies to be followed in the practice of healing reflexology massage. Aromatherapy and reflexology massages were often given to persons of elite status, or persons in the military, in Dynastic Egypt. We also know, or at least can conjecture, that the Egyptians valued essential oils more than gold – because when old grave robbers first dug up the Pharaonic tombs, they opted to steal the meticulously crafted essential oils rather than the priceless gold and jewels.
Culture and Smell
Aromatherapy was not solely a medicinal practice in ancient Egypt, it was a spiritual practice as well.
Incense and essential oils were used copiously during Egyptian burial rituals. The oil fragrances myrrh, lavender, and cinnamon were used to enhance the smell of a body and help keep it preserved prior to embalming and the eventual burial, and as mentioned just a moment ago, jars of essential oils would be entombed with the body so the spirit could take it along into the afterlife. These oils were not just therapeutic; they were a fundamental cornerstone of the culture.
Aromatherapy made its way from the Egyptian kingdoms into Greece, and eventually the practice became westernized. It lost much of its ritual significance in the transition, of course, but even today the use of aromatherapy in spas and massage parlors is looked upon with a certain reverence. Aromatherapy is respected for its healing qualities and its relaxing attributes, and so long as these essential oils allow us to meditate and cure our ailments, they will continue to be incredibly valuable and desirable.
You can find aromatic oils of your own online or in specialty stores; next time you have a relaxing massage session in one of our fantastic massage chairs, try adding a little aroma to the experience for the full, therapeutic spa treatment.