Essential oils go back to ancient Egypt

In Bloom: A lavender field in France. The flower is used to make "essential oils".
In Bloom: A lavender field in France. The flower is used to make "essential oils".

Topics has what might be called a healthy sense of scepticism.

When we hear about things that have some kind of magical healing powers, we take a step back. We consider the evidence.

Which brings us to the topic of essential oils. What exactly is so “essential” about these oils, we wondered.

We came across some information about a Hunter woman who distributes “therapeutic grade” essential oils.

We won’t name her because we don’t want this to come across like an ad. There’s no cash for comment at Topics.

We had a chat to the woman. She started by telling us about her concerns about all the chemicals in the world.

“They say the chemicals we get subjected to in one year are equivalent to what our grandparents would have been subjected to in their whole lifetime,” she said.

We’re not too keen on chemicals, either. Especially the toxic ones. But one thing at a time, eh. We steered her back to essential oils.

“A lot of the oils can help support people on an emotional level, like people with anxiety and depression. So they can improve your mood,” she said.

“They have healing benefits within the body. That’s well documented way back to ancient Egyptian times.”

Ancient Egypt? We don’t mind a bit of history. But it does conjure up images of ancient potions and powders... and witchcraft.

Ancient Ways

The Egyptians placed great value on aromatic oils.

The Egyptians placed great value on aromatic oils.

We read a bit more on this subject, giving it the “smell test” so to speak. We found a good article by The University of Maryland Medical Center, an academic institution in the US, which said “essential oils have been used for therapeutic purposes for nearly 6000 years”.

“The ancient Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used them in cosmetics, perfumes and drugs,” it said.

“Essential oils were also commonly used for spiritual, therapeutic, hygienic and ritualistic purposes.”

In more recent times, 1910 to be precise, French chemist René-Maurice Gattefossé discovered the healing properties of lavender oil.

He applied the oil to a burn on his hand caused by an explosion in his laboratory.

He then began to analyse the chemical properties of essential oils and how they were used to treat skin infections, gangrene and wounds in soldiers during World War I.

It was Gattefossé who founded the science of aromatherapy in 1928. By the 1950s massage therapists, beauticians, nurses, physiotherapists, doctors and other health-care providers began using aromatherapy.

So there you have it. We now know essential oils are (probably) not snake oil. 

Street Art

A reader told us all about this "street art" at Cessnock.

A reader told us all about this "street art" at Cessnock.

A reader sent us this picture of “street art” in Mount View Road at Cessnock. 

“This is one of two roads leading direct to the vineyards,” said the reader, who was clearly perturbed that the car had been there for three weeks.

It’s funny because we’ve also seen that exact same type of street art in Lake Macquarie, around the Wyee and Morisset areas.

Doggy Doo

We also had a call yesterday from a reader named Barry, who lives at Aberdare.

Barry wanted us to know that Aberdare was nicknamed “Dog Sh** Heights” and had been for years. We asked why. Barry said it was because there was “lots of dog sh** everywhere”.

This followed our article yesterday in which we said a camp at Jesmond in the Great Depression was known as Doggeyville. We don’t want to pick on Aberdare. But if Barry lives at Aberdare, we reckon he’s free to call it what he likes.