Plants ad their extracts have been used since time immemorial to relieve pain, aid healing, kill bacteria and thus revitalize and maintain good health. Many books have now been written on aromatherapy, its history usually being included in more or less detail. Suffice it to say here that, although the word itself was not coined until this century, the distilled extracts from plants - the essential oils - have been employed by humankind for countless years in religious rites, perfumery and hygiene. Cedar wood oil, know to have been used by the Egyptians for embalming and for hygienic purposes 5000 years ago, was probably the first 'distilled' oil to have been produced although the process used is open to speculation. Both the lavender plant and its essential oil were used by the abbess Hildegard of Bingen as early as the 12th century, and by the 15th century it is thought that essential oils of turpentine , cinnamon, frankincense , juniper, rose and sage were also known and used in perfumes and medicines by the beginning of the 17th century.