How Ancient Aromatherapy Can Help You Now

How Ancient Aromatherapy Can Help You Now

Happy New Year! What’s one of the most important resolutions you can make? How about self-care? Actually, this works at all times of year! Here at PURA D’OR, we believe aromatherapy is one of the quickest, simplest, most affordable and effective forms of self-care. When you breathe in the essence of a fragrant plant or herb, your mood lifts immediately. As you inhale, you absorb the essence of that plant’s gift to you.

In modern life, you can’t always spend all day out in nature, so aromatherapy brings nature to you. It can be tough to find time to relax under your favorite tree. You might need to do chores or visit the dentist when you’d rather be gardening with fragrant plants or herbs. In fact, when your spirits most need boosting, you may be stuck at the office or cooped up in a small space at home.

That’s one reason PURA D’OR Perfect 10 and Sweet 16 Essential Oil Sets offer oils in cute and portable bottles. These 10ml bottles are a perfect way to carry a natural mood booster with you at all times. Each bottle fits snugly in the palm of your hand. Just pick your favorite, put it in your purse or pocket, and head off happily into your day!

Perfect 10Sweet 16

When you’re on the go, you can breathe in the scent of an essential oil just by unscrewing the bottle cap. Since each oil is a very concentrated essence of a plant or herb, a few gentle sniffs will do!

If you’re at home, diffuse an oil throughout your room with an essential oil diffuser. These days, there are several types of aromatherapy diffusers to choose from and they are really easy to find.

Essential Oil Diffuser

Just make sure NEVER to drink or ingest essential oils. Although they are beneficial to smell, taken internally, some of them are toxic! So do not ingest. Instead, focus on enjoying the oils via olfaction – which means your sense of smell!

Before you get started, it’s good to understand that aromatherapy is much, much more than a crazy new trend. Using scent to brighten your mood is the opposite of a new discovery. It is ancient wisdom!

This makes sense, since what on Earth is older than nature? The natural world has been around for longer than we can possibly imagine, and essential oils come from aromatic plants. Our ancestors relied on these plants for so many things. Most early cultures depended strongly on the natural world and learned to work with it in ways they felt would benefit them.

Ancient Essential Oils

Long ago, people were fascinated by the natural fragrances they found in flowers and trees. Back then, you could go into the desert or forest, and you didn’t have any phones or computers to distract you! You could just explore the natural world, undisturbed by technology. Eventually, people discovered how to make early forms of aromatic products with the scents they found.

Back in 13th century BCE Mesapotamia, a female perfume-maker called Tapputi-Belatekallim gave instructions on how to distil a perfume. Tapputi’s formula used flowers, oil, myrhh and more. Her name and perfume-making instructions were recorded on a clay tablet now housed in a museum in Berlin! 

Tapputi Tablet 

In 5th century BCE, Herodotus of Greece wrote about frankincense, cedar, and rosemary. They were all used in ceremonial oils to help cleanse and purify at significant occasions like funerals. In ancient Egypt, too, special rooms in large temples stored aromatic plant material (meaning, parts of plants or herbs).The fragrant materials were used to make incense and perfume oils.

Many old cultures burned incense as a religious ritual. Archaeologists have found incense burners throughout the Arabian Peninsula from as far back as the 3rd century BCE. Do you know the expression “Holy Smoke!”? That could refer to incense. A 17th century CE British poem calls incense “the holy smoke of fervent prayers.”

Now here we are in the 21st century CE, still enjoying aromatherapy. Even today, we use fragrant scents in incense and perfume. It’s just that modern distillation techniques allow us to distil the essence of a plant or herb into its essential oil. So while the word aromatherapy was coined less than 100 years ago, the idea has been around much, much longer than its name. Let’s take a look at the ancient wisdom of aromatherapy and see how it can benefit us today.

Frankincense, “the king of oils,” is an aromatic resin that comes from trees mainly native to the Arabian Peninsula, Africa, and Asia. It was considered sacred in much of the ancient world. Since frankincense was used as an element in religious incense, it came to symbolize a form of purification.

Frankincense was very popular in ancient Egypt. It’s mentioned in The Ebers Papyrus, a text of herbal knowledge more than 3,000 years old. In 15th century BCE, the Pharaoh Queen Hatshepsut used frankincense in kohl eyeliner. She even had frankincense trees purchased from outside Egypt and transported back home, which was not a simple project back then! The famed Pharaoh King Tut died in 14th century BCE. Traces of frankincense have been found in his tomb. The Egyptian Book of the Dead even calls frankincense “the sweat of the Gods fallen to earth”.

Frankincense Oil

Frankincense became a healing agent in traditional Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine. It also appears in the sacred texts of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. For instance, Moses is told to create an incense blend of frankincense and fragrant spices. The Magi, or wise men, bring frankincense to Jesus. So frankincense was extremely important thousands of years ago!

Back then, frankincense was used to cleanse spaces of negative energy. You can use frankincense oil in your diffuser for the same purpose today! It can help cleanse both your space and your emotions. Relieve your mind and calm and balance your mood with frankincense. 

It’s also a great scent to have floating in the background if you want to connect with the ancient world in some way. Maybe you’re going to a costume party or writing a short story about the Sphinx. Whatever it is, frankincense will set the stage for you to travel back in time.

Cedarwood oil (aka cedar oil) comes from coniferous trees. Egyptians used it in incense and perfume for purification rites. The ancient Sumerians loved cedarwood. One Sumerian text calls cedar resin “the scent of gods.” The Cedars of Lebanon, a now-endangered (and protected!) species of cedar, are found in the oldest surviving epic poem, the Epic of Gilgamesh. Cedar is often mentioned in sacred texts since it represents strength and prosperity.

Cedarwood oil has a woodsy scent that is still used in perfumes and fragrances, especially in colognes made for men. It has a calming, grounding effect. Inhaling its essence can help promote sleep and lessen anxiety. Stress is something we have too much of in modern life, so why not try diffusing cedarwood oil throughout your space to relax? It will help you stay strong in yourself! 

Cedarwood Oil

The idea that aromatherapy relieves stress has been around for ages. One ancient text reveals that the Sumerians liked their homes to smell “like an aromatic cedar forest.” If that worked for them thousands of years ago, the same scent could work wonders for you now!

Rosemary has a refreshing, invigorating scent. This Mediterranean shrub was known to the ancient Greeks, Romans, and maybe even the Sumerians. The Greeks put rosemary under their bed or pillow as a way to ward off nightmares. If you want to do the same, you can always dab a drop or two of rosemary oil onto a cotton ball, put it in your pillow case, and expect pleasant dreams!

Rosemary also has a long history of use as a memory aid. In the 1st century CE, Greek students twined it into their hair when they had to take exams! That’s why Dioscorides wrote that “those who plait wreaths for the head use it.” No need to cram if you have rosemary! 

Rosemary Oil

Great authors of the past have done their best to make sure we don’t forget rosemary. Sir Thomas More called it “the herb sacred to remembrance and to friendship.” In Hamlet, Shakespeare writes, “there’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance”. Even now, rosemary oil can be diffused to help you focus, study, and learn whatever you need to memorize. Just diffuse it throughout your room and concentrate!

Lavender is a beautifully-colored fragrant flowering plant. Like frankincense, it was found in the tomb of King Tut. The Greeks and Romans prized it. In the 12th century, the mystical abbess Hildegard von Bingen thought lavender helped to purify one’s understanding, mood, and thinking. The Victorian writer Thackeray wrote of women who cherish wedding dreams “packed in lavender” in their hearts.

Lavender has always been sentimental. Today, you can put a dot of lavender oil into a sachet, not just to keep your hopes fresh, but also for the practical reason that it deters moths! Tonight, dab a drop of lavender oil onto a cotton ball and keep it by your pillow… We bet you’ll have sweet dreams, maybe even about that special someone!

Lavender Oil


Peppermint is well-known these days, but did you know that dried peppermint leaves were found in Egypt’s pyramids? Mint was also used as a remedy in various parts of Asia. In the Jewish Talmud, mint is mentioned as an ingredient in an ointment. It is said that in ancient synagogues and in Greek myth, mint was scattered on the floor so that it would release its sweet fragrance when stepped on.

The Romans also loved mint. In 1st century C.E., Ovid writes that scrubbing a dining table with mint makes it smell fresh. Pliny the Elder writes, “the very smell of it alone recovers and refreshes our spirits.” We agree!

Peppermint is one of the most uplifting essential oils. It will wake you up, keep you alert, and reinvigorate you. As an added bonus, more than one study found it may have potential as a weight loss aid. A university study had volunteers sniff peppermint oil periodically for five days. The participants reported that they felt less hungry, and they also consumed fewer calories than usual!

Peppermint Oil


Lemon, a citrus fruit originally from Asia, was prized by ancient cultures. Researchers found that when the lemon arrived in the Mediterranean, the Roman elite treated it as a luxury item. There were a few reasons for this: The lemon was a new, rare import; it was a beautiful color; and it smelled good!  Today, we know much more about lemons, so we have even more reason to love them!

Lemon oil scent is purifying and cleansing. It elevates the mood, like sunshine. In fact, lemon oil is known as Liquid Sunshine!

Lemon Oil


Plus, an amazing experimental study showed that the smell of citrus fruit made the participants behave in a more virtuous way. The people in citrus-scented rooms were more willing to volunteer time or money to charitable causes than those who didn't get a chance to smell that lovely, cleansing citrus scent. Here’s how you can use these findings: 

Get quiet, diffuse lemon oil throughout your room, and ask yourself what your favorite cause is. Once you've named it, tune into your heart and see if you are up for donating time (or money). If so, terrific! Who knew that aromatherapy could make you a better world citizen?!

Eucalyptus oil comes from a tree with a very ancient history. Scientists believe these trees have been around since the Dinosaur Age! The eucalyptus tree is native to Australia and some of its adjacent islands. Since it can grow hundreds of feet tall, it dominates much of the landscape. Indigenous Australians have known the eucalyptus for thousands of years.

Eucalyptus wood is used in the Didgeridoo, the sacred Aboriginal wind instrument. Aboriginal people used parts of the tree to make tools, boats, and tinder. They used the leaves and roots to make healing remedies.

Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil has been sold commercially since the late 1800s, so it has been popular for a long time! Like tea tree oil, it repels pesky insects and it’s a favorite oil to use in handmade soaps. The steam from a diffuser containing water and a few drops of eucalyptus oil may help clear breathing airways or respiratory passages. 

Tea Tree Oil comes from an area of Australia linked with the Bundjalung tribe. The Bundjalung have known Melaleuca Alternifolia, the Australian tea tree, for thousands of years. Long ago, they shaped the tree's wood to make spears and they used the flexible bark to make spearhead sheaths. They recognized the tree had healing properties, so they crushed its leaves for use in an antiseptic paste.

Tea tree oil’s antiseptic properties caused a chemist named Dr. Arthur Penfold to publish a paper in the 1920s saying the oil should be marketed commercially. The idea took off and today, tea tree oil is so cherished that, in 2011, an Australian postage stamp was released featuring not only the tree but the oil itself! 

Tea Tree Oil

Research at the University of Western Australia has shown tea tree oil to have antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s great for helping ease the pain of a cold or cough. Put a few drops in a diffuser, alone or with lavender oil, and you may find that breathing in the scent helps clear your sinuses! Just don’t overdo it because tea tree oil is potent. Since it’s toxic to ingest, keep it away from your mouth and just enjoy the scent!

Ylang Ylang is pronounced EE-lang EE-lang; this translates from Tagalog as wilderness or flower of flowers. It is the beautiful yellow flower of the cananga tree native to the Indo-Pacific region.

In the 1800s, a pharmacist in the Philippines distilled and extracted ylang-ylang essence for commercial use. In Indonesia, the flower was mixed with coconut oil to make hair pomade. Since ylang ylang was considered an aphrodisiac, its petals were used to decorate the beds of newlyweds. In more recent times, this much-loved flower has graced postage stamps for island countries in Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

Ylang Ylang Oil

Even today, Ylang Ylang is loved for its bright beauty and delicacy. Its oil is a well-known mood booster. Many people find that its scent eases depression and calms anxiety. It can even help raise your confidence and self-esteem! 

Did you know it can improve the quality of your sleep? In 2019, a study found that participants who slept near a cotton ball dabbed with a blend of ylang ylang and other oils slept better than those who did not. You can use a cotton ball and pillowcase or just diffuse it near your bed. You can also try a blend of lavender, ylang ylang, and cedarwood oils in your diffuser. Enjoy their combined scent!

Aromatherapy can help you on your spiritual quest. It can also help you elevate your mood. You can use essential oils to purify the energy in your space. They’ll bring a cleansed, fresh quality to the air you breathe. Many of PURA D’OR’s essential oils will help you relax, while others will help you sharpen up and focus. So in a nutshell: Essential oils can raise your spirits, lift your mood, and bring you into closer harmony with the natural world.

Essential Oil Therapy

PURA D’OR sources our oils sustainably because we care for Mother Earth and the integrity of the products we offer. We make top-quality, 100% pure, USDA organic essential oils. We hope you enjoy exploring them, now that you have explored the history of aromatherapy with us!  It makes perfect sense that breathing in natural plant scents has benefited people for thousands of years. Try PURA D’OR Perfect 10 and Sweet 16 essential oil kits and enjoy their benefits today!

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