Holistic Arts Institute

Integrating Ancient Wisdom and Modern Practice

Your Subtitle text



Like the fragrant smoke rising from the ancient campfire, aromatherapy has risen from
the shadows of antiquity to become the powerfully effective and widely accepted
compliment to
conventional medicine that is practiced today.

The popularity of aromatherapy has grown rapidly over the last two decades, driven by the increasing demand for nontoxic and nonthreatening restorative therapies.  The essential oils themselves are complex and the right combination can help to restore balance and health on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels.  Just as they are the catalyst that can help to heal a wound, uplift a mood, or relax a mind, essential oils also serve to transport a soul. 





At HAI, we believe that students who can exhibit the desire, self-discipline, and motivation to learn through independent study are surely deserving of the learning opportunity.  Whether you are eighteen or eighty-eight, high school graduate or doctorate, homemaker or physician, our doors are open. 

The Many Advantages of

Bach Flower Remedies



Bach Flower Essence Therapy was developed in the 1920s and 30s by British researcher and physician, Dr. Edward Bach.  Bach eventually turned from the allopathic medicine of his day to that of homeopathy.  It was his understanding that the treatment of symptoms was not adequate to heal disease; rather, one needed to get to the root cause to truly restore health.  He increasingly observed the psychic components in physical illnesses, and understood that these related to certain personality types and specific negative reaction patterns.  Bach decided to concentrate fully on studying the different personality types or soul qualities and finding the corresponding healing plants.  Together with his assistant, Nora Weeks, he discovered and prepared the thirty-eight Bach Flower Remedies and Rescue Remedy. . . . MORE!


Follow the link below

to learn more about



Aromatherapy Course







At this time, many holistic practitioners choose to work in private practice offering individualized holistic wellness consultations.  Others may be involved in: 


~Holding health seminars. 


~Writing books and articles on various aspects of holistic medicine. 


~Developing DVD and CD programs concerning holistic health. 


~Owning and operating a health food store. 


~Owning and operating a healthy restaurant. 


~Owning and operating a health spa. 


~Owning and operating a holistic clinic. 


~Manufacturing or formulating dietary supplements. 


~Manufacturing or formulating herbal products. 


~Manufacturing or formulating aromatherapy products. 


~Manufacturing or formulating flower essence products. 


~Manufacturing or formulating gem essence products. 


~And much, much more. . . .



Out beyond ideas of

wrong doing and right doing,



there is a field.

I will meet you there.



Official PayPal Seal

Aromatherapy:  Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times


By Theda Renee Floyd, PhD, RN, HHP





Although the contemporary practice of modern aromatherapy originated only within the last hundred years, the use of aromatic plant substances for healing purposes can be traced back to all the major ancient civilizations of the world.  Ancient writings describe the use of aromatic herbs, spices, resins, fats, oils, vinegars, wines, beers, and more for rituals, embalming, healing, and beatification.  It is believed that aromatic plants have actually been used by humankind since the dawn of human history. 


Our early ancestors learned through trial and error, and through observing which plants sick animals ate.  In this way, they came to know that eating specific roots, berries, and leaves helped to alleviate the symptoms of various ailments.  This highly prized healing wisdom was passed down from one medicine man or woman to the next, along with the new findings and innovations of each successive generation.  This wisdom and information was eventually transmuted into the herbal medicine that we know today. 


These early people discovered that the burning of fragrant woods, needles. and leaves from certain plants could produce predictable and interesting effects.  This practice likely arose from the discovery that some woods like cypress and cedar for example, filled the air with scent when they burned.  Interestingly, our modern word perfume is derived from the Latin per fumum, which means “through smoke” (Keville 6).  Some of these smoky aromas made people drowsy, while others cured ailments, still others stimulated the senses, and a few gave rise to mystical, religious experiences.  The precious, magical nature of aromatic plants was honored by burning them and offering the smoke to the gods of these early people.  We can see this principle at work today in the temples of the East, where incense is still ritually burned on the altars of Hindu and Buddhist deities.  The modern Catholic Church also continues its tradition of burning frankincense during religious services (Farrer-Halls 8). 


However, incense was not the only early use of fragrance.  Sometime between 7000 and 4000 B.C., Neolithic tribes learned that animal fats, when heated, absorbed the aromatic and healing properties of plants.  This first occurred, perhaps, when fragrant leaves or flowers accidently dropped into fat as meat cooked over the fire.  The information gleaned from that accident led to other discoveries such as some plants added flavor to foods; some fragrance scented fats helped to heal wounds, while others smoothed dry skin better than unscented fat.   These fragrant fats—the forerunners of our modern massage and body lotions—scented the wearer, protected skin and hair from weather, repelled insects, and soothed aching muscles.  The aromatic fats affected people’s energies and emotions as well. 


Aromatic waters, another type of fragrant product, were actually a combination of essential oils, water, and alcohol.  They were used to enhance the complexion and scent the skin and hair.  Aromatic waters were actually the forerunner of colognes and perfumes. (Keville 7).  It has been said that Cleopatra seduced Mark Antony on the banks of the Berdan River using these aromatic waters and other fragrant substances. 


The Egyptians created various aromatic blends, both for personal use and for ceremonies performed in the temples and pyramids.  Many ancient cosmetic formulas were created from a base of goat fat.  Ancient Egyptians formulated eyeliners, eye shadows, and other cosmetics this way.  They also stained their hair and nails with a variety of ointments and perfumes.  The Egyptians were masters in using essential oils and other aromatics in the embalming process. Historical records indicate that one of the founders of pharaonic medicine was the architect Imhotep, who was the Grand Vizier of King Djoser (2780-2720 B.C.).  Imhotep is often given credit for ushering in the use of herbs, aromatic plants, and oils for medicinal purposes.  Hieroglyphs on the walls of Egyptian temples depict the blending of oils and describe hundreds of oil recipes.  A sacred room in the Temple of Isis, on the island of Philae, depicts a ritual for cleansing the flesh and blood of evil deities, an emotional clearing procedure that required three days of cleansing using essential oils.  In 1922, when King Tut's tomb was opened, some fifty alabaster jars designed to hold hundreds of liters of various oils were discovered—some of the jars still containing oil traces.  In 1817, the Ebers Papyrus, a medical scroll nearly nine hundred feet in length, was discovered.  Dating back to 1500 B.C., the scroll included over eight hundred different herbal prescriptions and recipes. 


Often the Egyptians are given credit for being the first to use aromatic extracts for both spiritual and physical well being, but it is believed that essential oil like extracts were also being used in China and India at nearly the same time.  The Incense Trail, an overland trade route, ran from Palestine south along the western edge of Arabia to areas now occupied by the countries of Yemen and Oman.  Interestingly, this North-South route was intersected at Petra, Jordan, by an East-West route that connected India and China with Egypt.  The lucrative trade that flowed in all four directions on these routes,  moved spices such as frankincense, myrrh, spikenard, and other aromatics to the Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Indian and Chinese empires. 


In India, essential oils have been a core element of the Ayurvedic healthcare system for millennia.  Although the ancient Vedic texts were not written down until beginning around 1500 BC, they include astronomical records that indicate the Vedic system, including Ayurveda, was in practice before 4000 B.C.  Ayurveda became the basis of the healing traditions of Tibet, Sri Lanka, and Burma, and also influenced TCM (Frawley 6).  One of its principal aspects is aromatic massage, where essential oils—particularly sandalwood—are used therapeutically.  Ayurvedic literature records Indian doctors administering oils of cinnamon, ginger, myrrh, coriander, spikenard, and sandalwood to their patients.  The Vedas mention over seven hundred different herbs and aromatics, and codify the use of perfumes and aromatics for religious and therapeutic purposes. 


In China, the use of essential oils has been traced to before the time of Christ.  The oldest surviving herbal text in China is the well known work attributed to Shennong, The Divine Farmer's Herb-Root Classic, dated at around 2700 B.C.  Shennong was a ruler and cultural hero of China who taught his people the practices of agriculture.  He is credited with identifying hundreds of medical, as well as poisonous, herbs by personally testing their properties, which was crucial to the development of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  Tea, which acts as an antidote against the poisonous effects of about seventy herbs, is also said to have been his discovery.  Shennong first tasted it, when tea leaves on small burning tea twigs were carried up from the fire by the hot air, landing in his cauldron of boiling water.  He lived five hundred years before Huang Di, the Yellow Emperor, and is venerated as the Father of TCM.  Shennong is also believed to have introduced the technique of acupuncture.


In Europe during the Middle Ages, essential oils were used in ritualistic healing practices as a means of combating illness.  The twelfth century visionary, Hildegard of Bingen, used herbs and oils extensively in healing work.  She was a Benedictine abbess, mystic, philosopher, healer, composer, and writer—the author of numerous works.  She wrote extensively on the use of herbal remedies, tinctures, salves, ointments, and oils as part of her medicine.  Her writings were used as a point of reference for abbeys throughout Europe during this time and for many centuries following.  Burning incense to prevent the spread of cholera and plagues was a common occurrence in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  As it was believed that aromatic plants and essential oils controlled the impurity of the air, their use evolved.  To ward off disease, it was a frequent practice to inhale from sponges soaked in vinegar or lemons stuck with cloves.  Candles scented with rose petals, cloves, and musk were burned in sick rooms as a preventative measure (Burton 80). 


In more recent times, a renewed interest in natural, plant-based healing led to the development of modern aromatherapy.  In the 1920s a French chemist, René-Maurice Gattefossé, experimented with essential oils and recognized their tremendous healing potential.  Knowing that lavender was used in medicine for treating burns and inflammation, he immediately plunged his arm into a container of lavender essential oil after burning his hand in a laboratory accident.  He noticed that the pain subsided quickly, and that his hand healed rapidly without scarring.  Lavender acts to heal burns by stopping the action of hormone like substances called prostaglandins, which cause swelling and provoke painful constriction in the area of a burn.  Lavender oil also protects burned skin from bacterial and fungal infection (Balch 89).  Gattefossé is considered the father of modern aromatherapy as a healing art.  The miraculous effectiveness of lavender in healing his burn led him to further research essential oils, and to use the term aromathérapie for the first time in a scientific paper in 1928 (Farrer-Halls 9).  This heralded the arrival of the modern day science of aromatherapy for the treatment of common ailments. 


Gattefossé shared his studies with his colleague and friend, Jean Valnet, a medical doctor practicing in Paris.  Exhausting his supply of antibiotics, Valnet used essential oils to heal soldiers’ burns and wounds during the Second World War.  He carried on with Gattefossé’s research, and two of his students, , Dr. Paul Belaiche and Dr. Jean Claude Lapraz, expanded on his work. They clinically investigated the antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties in essential oils.  Valnet also successfully treated psychiatric patients with essential oils, demonstrating their emotional and mental healing qualities.  Subsequently, Marguerite Maury laid the groundwork for their use in beauty and revitalization therapy, therewith reintroducing another ancient application of aromatherapy to the modern world (10). 


The popularity of aromatherapy has grown rapidly over the last two decades, driven by the increasing demand for nontoxic and nonthreatening restorative therapies.  The essential oils themselves are complex and the right combination can help to restore balance and health on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels.  Just as they are the catalyst that can help to heal a wound, uplift a mood, or relax a mind, essential oils also serve to transport a soul.  Like the fragrant smoke rising from the ancient campfire, aromatherapy has risen from the shadows of antiquity to become the powerfully effective and widely accepted compliment to conventional medicine that is practiced today. 



Works Cited


Balch, Phyllis A.  Prescription for Herbal Healing.  New York:  Avery, 2002. 


Burton Goldberg Group.  Alternative Medicine.  Berkeley:  Celestial Arts, 2002. 


Farrer-Halls, Gill.  The Aromatherapy Bible.  New York:  Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2005. 


Frawley, David.  Ayurvedic Healing.  2nd ed.  Twin Lakes:  Lotus Press, 2000.


Keville, Kathi.  Aromatherapy:  Healing for the Body & Soul.  Lincolnwood:  Publications International, Ltd., 1999.