Do essential oils really work?

Essential Oils – Do they really provide healing?

There is a huge amount of scientific research being carried out around the world today about the healing properties of essential oils. ‘Essential Oils for Healing’ - Is this a whole load of Woo Woo? or is there some truth in this? This blog post explores the history behind the use of oils for healing.

What does history tell us?

The use of essential oils spans back to thousands of years ago. Ancient civilisations such as the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks have contributed to the vast knowledge that we have today about essential oils. They have been used for centuries and research shows that they have been known to have a profound effect on the mind and body but how?

History tells us that Romans used essential oils for pleasure and for curing pain. They enjoyed perfumed baths and massages everyday and Roman soldiers took Myrrh to battle with them to heal wounds and infections.

Egyptians used essentials oils for incense, perfumery, embalming and beautifying their skin. They were the first people to distill plants in order to extract their essential oils.

The ancient greeks had a high opinion of essentials oils and there is reference to them in Greek mythology. The Greek physician, also known as the father of western medicine, Hippocrates mentions a vast number of plants in his writing. He is quoted as saying ‘the way to health is to have an aromatic bath and a scented massage everyday’ (Wordwood, 2016)

In his book ‘The Healing Power of Essential Oils’ Dr Zilinski states that “Virtually every culture dating back to the beginning of time used aromatic plant materials in their sacred rituals as incense, in their body care as ointments and perfumes, and in their sacred medicine as poultices, salves and tinctures”. (Dr E.Zilinski, 2018)

Gattefosse, the godfather of aromatherapy, introduced the term ‘Aromathrapie’ only 80 years ago. He discovered the healing power of lavender after burning his hand and plunging it into a large tank of lavender oil. The burning sensation was instantly relieved and his skin healed quickly without blistering over the next few days. Gateffos then dedicated his life to learning about the therapeutic properties of plant oils and sharing the science of oils with others.


Margaret Maury, a French biochemist continued this work and developed the methods of blending, diluting and massage application of oils leading to the birth of modern Aromatherapy as we know it today.

Until the turn of the century plants were used to create all medicines and remedies. Modern medicine soon took over and by the 1960’s the advances in doctoring and surgery were at the forefront of health and natural remedies took second place.

So there we have it – history and extensive research does tell us that there are healing properties in essential oils. A number of resources have been referenced in this blog please see list of sources below.

To find out more about what exactly gives essential oils their healing properties take a look at Unlocking the power of Essential Oils post.