Spices through the ages

spices_historyThe use of spices by humans goes back to even before recorded history. Archeologists estimate that humans discovered spices approximately 50,000 years B.C. The earliest written records yet discovered contain a favorite myth of the Assyrians who lived thousands of years B.C. The Assyrians believed that prior to creating the world the Gods feasted at a spectacular gathering at which they drank wine made of spices, in particular sesame seeds. Other historical records contain many references to spices and the important role they played in human society. The author of the ‘Book of Spices’ Mr. F. Rosemarie quotes from the Bible saying “Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels and of sweet cinnamon half so much…and thou shall make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil Spices have, from time immemorial, held a certain allure and mystery for humans. It is this attraction that has caused men to risk life and limb in search of a steady supply of these valuable goods. It was a quest for spices that sent Christopher Columbus traveling around the world and led to the discovery of the New World. Today these spices cost little and we can all enjoy spices such as black pepper, cinnamon, cloves and so on. But in earlier times they were all so expensive that only the wealthy could afford to use spices in their cooking, as medicines, balms and in their clothing.

Essential oils – an essential part of life throughout history

Essentialoils_historyEssential oils are the purest, most concentrated form of any substance. When extracted from a plant they are the pure essence of the plant and have been described as the plant’s ‘life force’. The first known existence and use of essential oils are linked directly to the Egyptians. Over 90 gallons of preserved essential oils were discovered in King Tut’s tomb. Since then essential oils have been used in a variety of ways, as perfumes, as flavoring for food and drink, in aromatherapy and in herbal massages. In the 1920s a French cosmetic scientist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse was working in his laboratory when he severely burnt his hand. He immediately immersed it in what he thought was water but what turned out to be lavender oil. A few moments later the burning had subsided and the healing process had begun. This was the beginning of a prolonged study into the medicinal properties of lavender oil and it was found to be better than the standard antibiotics at the time. There are a wide variety of essential oils and each one of them has different healings and other properties. Nutmeg oil, Clove Bud oil, Black Pepper oil, Cinnamon Leaf oil and Cardamom oil are just some of the many essential oils available for use today. All these oils have strong aromas and when applied these aromas reach olfactory triggers in our body and send signals to the brain. These signals will affect our emotions. The oils can be absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream and it takes only one minute to begin absorption. The process can then go on for upto 12 hours.