A Little Bit of History
Using oils as far back as 5,000 BC, the Egyptians were the first known Aromatherapists in History. Although they did not extract the essential oils as we mostly do today, Ancient Egypt was the first civilisation to incorporate oils in their daily life.
Cleopatra - who was actually Greek - was primarily renowned to use ointments and oils for cosmetic purposes. Yet, they were as widely used for both medicinal and spiritual practices. Their uses were depicted in many temples’ walls throughout Egypt. Edfu temple even contains an ancient “laboratory”, describing many oils’ recipes. Jars were found in Tutankhamun's tomb, and oils were commonly used during the mummification process.
Today, Egypt is a significant player in the production of essential oils, specifically jasmine, neroli, geranium, and a few other ones. As I have been holding aromatherapy workshops in Cairo for the past year, I was surprised to note that Egypt's large contribution in essential oils’ history was a new information for many.
Common Questions & Concerns
What’s an Aromatherapist?
The scope of an Aromatherapist can vary depending on the school the practitioner has graduated from, as well as the country in which he or she has studied. Let’s start with what an Aromatherapist is not.
An Aromatherapist is not a doctor, and this is very important to understand. Although we extensively study anatomy, physiology, and many common pathologies, we do not prescribe remedies or cure diseases.
Aromatherapists are not magicien either. Although essential oils can do wonders, they aren’t magic potions. Essential oils are amazing allies to maintain good health, yet, like any external remedy, they won’t fix the root cause of your troubles.
An Aromatherapist has an overall understanding on how the body functions in a holistic point of view. If we recommend an oil, we do so taking into account body, spirit and mind connection. Many of us are also trained to perform aromatherapy and reflexology massages using pressure points.
What Are Carrier Oils?
At the beginning of a session, I tend to ask attendees:
“Which essential oils are you currently using at home?”
I often hear: “I love jojoba, or almond oil”.
This is where I start introducing the crucial teamwork relationship between essential and carrier oils. Technically speaking, jojoba, or almond oils aren’t essential oils. Instead, they are carrier oils.
Essential oils cannot be applied directly on the skin without carrier oils and to be used safely, they need to follow specific dilution rates. On the other hand, carrier oils can be used as is, and many can even be ingested internally.
Blending During a Workshop
Making Natural Products
It has been amazing to meet women (and men!) curious to know about all the benefits, essential oils can bring. Pollution and processed food can, on their own, already be a heavy load on our body systems. They want to understand what goes inside their skin and prefer to keep harsh chemicals at bay.
Only can only know what is inside the bottle by making your own cosmetic or therapeutic blends. Looking for natural solutions, Aromatherapy has become increasingly popular, not only in Egypt, but all over the world. Internationally, the market value of essential oils worldwide is expected to reach 27 billion dollars by 2022.
What Can I Use Essential Oils For?
Essential oils have a large spectrum of uses, cosmetics being only one of them.
Scientific research about essential oils is only at its early stage, yet many already concluded that oils can provide anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial properties. Among others, lavender essential oil - Lavendula Angostifolia - has scientifically shown positive impact on the nervous system, helping with anxiety or sleeping troubles.
Essential oils can be used for anyone’s own personal use. Many health practitioners include aromatherapy to their existing practice, such as nurses, psychologists, pharmacists, and more. They also complement holistic helping professions such as yoga teachers, massage therapists, energy healers, naturopaths, and others.
Finding Quality Oils
One of the main concerns from students seem to know where to find quality oils in Egypt. All essential oils aren’t made equal, and at the beginning, determining a good oil from a low-quality one can sometimes be tricky.
“Pure essential oils” is indeed a controversy, in Egypt, but also overseas. With very little to no regulations in terms of “pure” or “therapeutic grade” labelling, essential oils users can only educate themselves on how to select the best ones.
Start by searching for detailed traceability, quality-control information and reports from your vendor. Essential oils quality is a subject we typically discuss quite in depth during workshops.
What Happens in an Aromatherapy Workshop?
No experience is required to attend, some students had limited or very basic knowledge of essential oils and left with an incredible amount of knowledge. Others were already using a few oils at home, but only to 10 percent of their abilities, and ended the session with a long list of possibilities.
Smell & Blend
With a collection of over 30 different essential oils from all over the world, everyone is able to smell the wonderful fragrances before selecting their favorite one.
Students then become little chemists, calculating the number of drops to make the perfect custom blend. We make aromatherapy products such as face or body oils, epsom bath salts, roll-ons, or aroma inhalers. Everyone share their creation and the room is filled with “oh” and “ah” as we smell each other's blends.
By the end of the class, the room smells divine and attendees leave with enough aromatherapy products to enjoy the benefits of essential oils as they get home. They also acquired the basic knowledge to start making blends for themselves, and their friends or family.
A Workshop in Cairo
Birth of The Aromatherapy School of Egypt
Connecting with Egyptian women through these workshops has been a fabulous experience. Someone’ smile while smelling sweet orange essential oil, or hearing how efficient their custom blend has been, is for me the greatest reward.
Aromatherapy is a field that is difficult to study online - you will never be able to know how divine Ylang Ylang smells in front of your computer!
I’ve been repetitively asked how one can further their knowledge about Aromatherapy and essential oils in Egypt. To respond to this demand, longer courses are now starting in Cairo, and it is my pleasure to teach them in the land of essential oils’ birth country.
Instructor & Founder