Europeans didn’t get in the production of essential oils before the 12th century. Many healers, especially the monks and nuns from the abbeys and monasteries cultivated their own aromatic plants. They also used many spices, herbs and aromatic oils in the Far East in their healing ministrations.
We have to bear in mind that all literary knowledge in addition to herbal knowledge rested in the monasteries because it was the monks and nuns who replicated the ancient texts. We also know that it was the women and men in those religious orders who practiced different forms of recovery.
Lavender specifically, was studied for its medicinal properties together with rosemary, sage, basil, chamomile, melissa and thyme. These plants appeared to succeed in the colder Germanic countryside. Some of those abbeys had enormous underground storerooms in which they retained their herbs as well as the oils together with the foodstuff, beer and wines. They dispensed medication to the ill in the kind of herbal teas, herbal infused oils, medicated beers, medicated wines, brandies, and herbal tinctures and salves.
While in Europe a couple of years back, I visited the ruins of lots of these abbeys and found that they generally placed their herb gardens directly outside the windows of the infirmary. During warm days, they would take the sick out into the backyard or open the great shuttered windows so the breezes would take the scents of the plants into the sick. It was believed that these heavenly scents would help heal the sick.
Hildegard of Bingen
A Healer for our day Hildegard was a Benedictine abbess at the 12th century. She wrote extensively on the use of herbal remedies, tinctures, salves, ointments and oils as part of her medication.
Her writings were used as a point of reference for abbeys during Europe during that time and for several centuries after. Hildegard’s work with herbs, crystals, gemstones and essential oils is currently being analyzed extensively all over Europe and is being used in American courses on aromatherapy.
Educational classes in aromatherapy which are taught from a Christian perspective can help us connect to our rightful role in healing and anointing. Hildegard is but one of the very famous teachers in background on the use of aromatherapy for healing body/mind/spirit.