History of Essential Oils


History of Essential Oils

What would a King keep in their medicine cabinet?  If we look back in Ancient days to see what King Solomon, King David, King Tutankhamun, Queen Esther or Cleopatra would have put in their medicine cabinet what do you think you would have found?

Well, according to ancient documentation, you would have found essential oils.  Essential Oils were used by Kings and Queens as Medicine and were often more costly than Gold and Silver.

A vital component of Ancient culture that dates since nearly the beginning of time.  It appears that it was the Egyptians who first made extensive use of herbs with distillation methods dating back 3,500 B.C.  Essential Oils were used as Egyptian medicine and used in the burial of Rulers and Pharaohs.

EO Ancient


When King Tutankhamun’s tomb was opened 350 litres of Essential Oils were discovered in Alabaster Jars.  It’s been documented that Cleopatra, who was famous for her beauty and charm, owned the first Spa near the Dead Sea where she used Essential Oils for her personal beauty treatments.


Also, Essential Oils were used by Moses and were referenced in the Bible.  In fact, in the book of Exodus when the Lord refers to Holy anointing oil it was a specific formula God recommended.

This formula was used to anoint Priests and Kings.  And, this holy anointing oil was used when someone went to the Priest for healing.  The oil was poured onto their head and they were prayed for.  And this wasn’t just a ritual, this oil was known to have healing properties.

In the book of Numbers 16 Moses tells the high priest Aaron to burn oils as incense to stop a plague.  We know that these oils, especially cinnamon, have powerful anti-bacterial properties that could protect the people.

Other healing oils used frequently during that time period include frankincense, hyssop, spikenard and cedarwood.

This wisdom and techniques then sailed across the Mediterranean a few centuries before the coming of Christ. Somewhere in the midst of this knowledge transfer, China and India also started to employ herbal remedies and Ayurvedic medicine embraced essential oils extensively.


Then as the Bible tells us 3 wise men gave the infant King of Israel gifts of Gold to honour his royalty, Frankincense as a perfume, and Myrrh for anointing oil.  Although there is probably some truth to this, other sources claim that the wise men from the far east were actually being more practical by giving the baby Jesus these precious, costly items that could double as potential medical remedies.

During that time Frankincense was used to support the immune system and fight infection which could heal a sick child.  Myrrh was known to help healing after pregnancy and support hormonal health.


As civilizations transferred world power, the essential oil techniques from Greece travelled to Rome who favoured Aromatherapy and Fragrances.  After the fall of the Roman Empire, Persia picked up these healing techniques and perfected the essential oil distillation process.

Sadly, the Dark Ages brought with it a disdain for Hippocrates’ holistic approach. However, because the Catholic Church viewed bathing as inappropriate, high esteem was given to Aromatics, which coincidently are also anti-bacterial, to keep foul odour at bay.  Little did they know that their perfume was also helping stave off sickness and disease!

During this era, it is believed that Monks continued the healing tradition of Essential Oils and secretly kept Herbal Medicine alive in the halls of their Monasteries.  Unfortunately, folk medicine was viewed as “witchcraft” and many Herbalists were either burned at the stake or persecuted.


Thankfully, the Renaissance resurrected herbal medicine and physicians such as Paracelsus challenged his medical colleagues with testimonials of successfully treating life-threatening concerns like leprosy.

In the Bible, essential oils are referenced 264 times and 33 different types of oils are mentioned.

What we know as modern “Aromatherapy” was not introduced formally until French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse first coined the phrase in 1937.  Although he wasn’t necessarily a natural health advocate, he became interested in essential oils after a 1910 accident where he badly burned his hand.  Gattefosse used the first available salve in his laboratory, a pure, undiluted lavender oil compound that not only immediately eased the pain, but healed his injury without infection or scar.

Because of Gattefosse’s work, Dr. Jean Valet used essential oils to treat injured soldiers in World War II.  This led to Marguerite Maury being the first person to “individually prescribe” essential oil combinations using a Tibetan technique for back massage that treated nerve endings along the spine.

Today, essential oils are still used as medicine by “Kings” and “Priests” as well as by Doctors, Nutritionists, Individuals and Parents all over the world.

EO History


Extracts from Dr. Josh Axe ~ The Kings Medicine Cabinet, Essential Oil Uses, Cures and Recipes for Healing