Aromas had been used for medicinal, spiritual, and magical purposes going back as far back as Egyptian times 3000 B.C. Even further back in time 5000 B.C. the Tassili cave paintings showed women wearing fragrant flower garlands. There are frequent mentions of the use of potions throughout history - Pliny the 1st century Roman historian, mentions in his Natural History narrative, 32 remedies prepared from roses, 21 from lilies, 17 from violets, and 25 from pennyroyal. Ancient Indian cultures used sandalwood for genito-urinary infections.
Nostradamus, at the age of 21 received a licence, having studied in Montpellier France, to practise medicine. One of the formulae which he used as a remedy for several conditions, has survived to this day, and was compounded of rose petals, cloves, lignum aloes, and the dried roots of iris and sweet flag.
The ancient Greeks also contributed to the origins of herbal medicine. Dioscorides, a military doctor was the author of De Materia Medica a book on herbal medicine, which was the foundation of all subsequent books for a further 1600 years. Galen another Greek doctor also wrote a major book on herbal medicine De Simplicibus in the 2nd century which was used up to the middle ages by the Islamic physicians.
The word of herbalism was carried to Europe via the crusaders, and the texts were translated into Latin, which when printing was developed, the information became more widespread, though only if you could read. So herbal folklore passed on from generation to generation, by word of mouth. In the 16th century John Gerard published in 1597 the "Herbal or General Historie of Plantes". He had been greatly influenced by the great medical scholar Paracelsus.
Now in recent time the medical fraternity is becoming aware of the benefits of some of these ancient methods, and in the United Kingdom some areas are becoming available on the National Health System.
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