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The Essential Oils of Flowers – History, Benefits and Uses

5 min read

Throughout the centuries, essential oils have been used in hundreds of ways by many different cultures. Often derived from plants and flowers, they’ve been known to carry amazing benefits.

The first recorded use of their healing powers was discovered in cave paintings in France dating back to 18,000 BC.

Egypt is commonly considered one of the first cultures to use aromatic extracts and became renowned for their knowledge in this area. They regarded their herbal medications and ointments highly, with priests the only people allowed to use them in ancient times.

China and India have also employed the use of essential oils for centuries. India is known for its Ayurvedic health philosophy blending spiritual and philosophical elements, widely practiced in India today.

Literature from this health movement dating back to 2000 BC, records the use of oils from plants and spices including cinnamon, ginger, coriander, and sandalwood.

Similarly, Traditional Chinese Medicine is recognised for its use of medical techniques that include essential oils. The use of these has been traced back to 2700 BC, with the oldest surviving medical text referencing usage of 365 plants.

The Greek and Roman people also made use of essential oils, having derived much of their knowledge from the Egyptians.

In Western Europe, it is believed that Knights and their armies passed on knowledge they learnt throughout the Middle East.

It has been noted that frankincense and pine were burnt in the streets during the Bubonic Plague in the 14th Century. The aim was to ward off evil spirits and it was recorded that less people died in the areas in which these oils were used.

Today, essential oils are regularly used in aromatherapy treatments and added to cosmetics for their vast healing benefits.

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The Essential Oils of Flowers 

Flowers aren’t just beautiful, many different varieties emit sweet fragrances designed to attract pollinating insects. These fragrances have long been extracted and distilled as essential oils for our own use. Flower oils are commonly used in aromatherapy and massage, employed as home fragrances, and added to perfumes and bath products. These oils carry varying benefits, for example, lavender is often used for stress relief, whilst eucalyptus is known as an antiseptic.

Some of our favourite flowers are used as essential oils; do you have any of these in your home?

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Roses are known for their symbolism as the flower of love and desire, and feature in many stories and legends. They are also incredibly beautiful and often come with a sweet scent. Oil extracted from the rose flower is often used in beauty products and is known for its extensive health benefits. Below are just some of the uses for rose oil…

 Health Benefits of Rose Oil

• Mental health - Rose Oil boasts the ability to fight depression and anxiety when used regularly. Practitioners of aromatherapy use rose oil widely to invoke relaxation and feelings of happiness and positivity.

• Antiseptic – Surely the most luxurious way to treat a wound, rose oil helps prevent infections. It is also known for reducing inflammation and fever.

• Aphrodisiac – it’s not merely the sight of roses that invoke feelings of desire, the scent alone can boost libido. All the more reason to send your loved one a bouquet of stunning roses!

• Antispasmodic – rose oil can relieve spasms in the respiratory system and muscular spasms in limbs. It has been used to aid convulsions.

• Antiviral – ward off viral infections like cold and flu with the oil of this pretty bloom.

• Astringent – strengthen hair and gums, tone and lift the skin, and even slow the flow of blood from cuts by contracting the blood vessels with the use of rose oil.

• Laxative – this oil can serve as a natural and effective laxative when needed.

• Regulate hormone production – rose oil is known as an effective treatment in aiding the symptoms and issues of menstruation and helps the uterus work correctly.



As one of the world’s oldest cultivated flowers, carnations have a history of being remarkably popular. Their appearance isn’t the only reason, carnations are known for having a number of positive health effects when used as an essential oil.

Health Benefits of Carnation Oil

• Mental health – all over the world carnations have been used to alleviate stress and nervousness and treat minor depression and fatigue. The scent of carnation oil is often used in massage to soothe and calm.

• Inflammation – carnation oil can reduce inflammation and swelling and soothe the nervous system. It may also be beneficial in reducing pain of muscle strain or arthritis.

• Regulate hormone production – this oil can help restore hormonal balance in women and has been used to reduce the pain of menstrual cramping.

• Skin health – skin rashes and irritations such as rosacea and eczema can be treated with carnation oil, whilst some use the oil to minimise the appearance of wrinkles.



Lilies are instantly recognisable for their unique shape and are favoured all over the world, commonly used in ceremonies such as weddings and funerals, and even used as a symbol of royalty in Europe. Read more on the symbolism and mythology of lilies. The lily is also known for its health benefits when used as an essential oil. Its medicinal value comes from its richness in linalool, benzoic acid, vanillin, phenethyl alcohol, and other acids. Have you used lily oil for any of these benefits?

Health Benefits of Lily Oil

• Mental health – the essential oil of the lily flower is often used in aromatherapy to aid patients suffering from depression. It said to alleviate negative feelings and increase happiness.

• Antiseptic – add to cuts to reduce risk of infection.

• Soothing – lily oil can be applied to skin ailments to soothe the skin. The oil can relieve itching and reduce inflammation.

• Moisturising – commonly included in cosmetics, lily oil can improve the appearance of skin with its moisturising properties. It can also be used with other oils such as calendula to improve sensitive skin.

*Note: Check with your doctor before using any essential oil, especially if pregnant. Essential oils should be used sparingly and with caution.

Read next: The Mythology of Flowers: Roses, Carnations, Lilies.

Interflora Australia has been operating across our country since 1954. Originally based in Adelaide, South Australia, we now operate out of Interflora House in Melbourne, Victoria. Interflora Australia is 100% Australian owned - via a licensing agreement, issued to us from Interflora in the United Kingdom...