FROM THE SIXTEENTH TO THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY-THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE ESSENTIAL OIL INDUSTRY

II. FROM THE SIXTEENTH TO THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY


There is still other evidence that the production and use of essential oils did not become general until the second half of the sixteenth century. In 1500 and 1507, there appeared at Strassburg the two volumes of Hieronymus Brunschwig's famous book on distillation, "Liber De Arte Distillandi." The author (1450-1534) was a physician at Strassburg. Although obviously endeavoring to cover the entire field of distillation techniques and products, he mentions only four essential oils, namely, the oil of turpentine (known since antiquity), oil of juniper wood and oils of rosemary and spike. Brunschwig states that oil of spike is produced in "Provinz," meaning undoubtedly the French Provence. This is confirmed in the "New Gross Pe.stillirbuch" of the Strassburg physician, Walter Reiff (Ryff), published in 1550 at Frankfort on the Alain, and containing a reference to a French industry of essential oils, especially of oil of spike. "The oil of spike or lavender/' writes Reiff, "is commonly brought to us from the French Provence, filled into small bottles and sold at a high price" ("gemeyncklichausder Provinz Frankrcich zu uns gebracht wird, in kleine Gldsslin eingefasst und thcucrvcrkaufft").
In the part of the book dealing with the appropriate preparation of "some exquisite oils" by means of artificial distillation ("von rcchter Bereytung kiinstlichcr Dextillation etlicher furnehmer Ole "), Reiff mentions, as sources of "precious" oils, clove, mace, nutmeg, anise, spike and cinnamon, as well as many substances that do not contain essential oils, or furnish only traces of them, such as benzoin, sandarac and saffron. The method as described by him, moreover, was by no means apt to produce pure essential oils.
It was the" Kriiuterbuch" of Adam Lonicer (1528-1586), the first edition of which appeared at Frankfort on the Main in 1551, which may be regarded as a significant turning point in the understanding of the nature and the importance of essential oils. Lonicer stresses the medicinal value of "many marvelous and efficient oils of spices and seeds" ("vid herrliche und krafftige Ohle von Gewurzen und Samen") and states that "the art of distillation is quite a recent, not an ancient invention, unknown to the old Greek and Latin physicians, and indeed has not been in use at all" ("Diese Kunst des Destillirens ist fast eine neuc, und nicM gar altc Erfituiung, den alien griechischen und latcinisehen Medicis unbekannt und gar nicht in gebrauch geiuesen").
Further progress in the methods of preparation and the knowledge of the nature of essential oils was made obvious in the "De Artificiosis Extractionibus" written by the German physician, Valerius Cordus (1515-1544), and published in 1561 at Strassburg by the Swiss naturalist, Conrad Gtesner (1516-1565). It is significant that Cordus based his reports on the experiments conducted by him in the pharmacy of his uncle, Johannes Raila, apothecary in Leipzig, by whom his work was supervised. Gesner himself contributed to the progress in the "Thesaurus Euonymi Philiatri," a book published by him at Zurich under the pen name, Euonymus Philiatrus.
The most important publication on essential oils during that period, however, came from the pen of one of the most prolific and careful scientific writers of all times, the Neapolitan, Giovanni Battista della Porta (1537-1615). In his "De Destillatione libri IX," written about 15G3, he not only differentiates distinctly between expressed fatty and distilled essential oils, but describes their preparation, the ways of separating the volatile oils from water and the apparatus used for this purpose.
In 1607, in his famous "Pharmacopoea Dogmaticorum Rostituta" (Frankfort on the Main), the French physician, Joseph Du Chcsne, latinized Quercetanus (1544-1609), one of the most ardent Paracelsians, could already state that "the preparation of essential oils Is well known to everybody, even to the apprentices" ("pracparatio omnibus fere, imo ipsis tynmibiift, nola et perspecta est"). Quercetanus states that all the pracparationcs chymicac, among which were included the essential oils, could be obtained in the pharmacies, and he gives enthusiastic praise to the manager of the court pharmacy at Cassel in saying that it was primarily the example set in this pharmacy which inspired parts of his book (^Officina haccmihitypusprirnux fuit, ad cuius imitationem meam phannacopcam cenatus sum"). As to the preservation of essential oils in the pharmacies, Quercetanus writes that "15 or 20 different oils were kept in small round boxes and, when asked for, they were delivered by means of a toothpick, i.e., in a minute quantity achieving, nevertheless, the best results" ("Eiusmodi csscntine conservantur in parvis theculis rotundis, quarum singulae capiunt 15 vcl 20 diversa csscntiarum genera, quae, cum u&us postulat, cum dentiscalpio, hoc cst, in minima quantitate exhibebuntur, et effedits nihilominus profercnt optatissimos") .
Official pharmacopoeias have always been more or less conservative. Thus, only such drugs as had found general acceptance in contemporary medical science were given a place in these official pharmaceutical standards. Hence, it is not quite as surprising as it may seem at first sight that, in the "Dispensatorium Pharmacopolarum" of Valerius Cordus (published and made official in the Imperial city of Nuremburg in 1546), only three essential oils were listed, in spite of the author's own extensive study of them. These were: oil of turpentine, oils of spike (lavender) and of juniper berries, in general use at least since the end of the fifteenth century. Of interest is the reference to an industry of essential oils, which makes it practicable to buy the oils of juniper berries and of spike, rather than to prepare them in the laboratories of the pharmacies. As to the oil of juniper berries, the Dispensatorium does not give an explicit formula, because, as it states, the product is bought at a price lower than the cost of preparation by the individual pharmacist ("quid vero minoris emitur, quam ut ab aliquo pharmacopoea praeparari qucat, confectionem cius non indicaminus").* The section dealing with oil of spike states that it is more advantageous to buy the oil from merchants who import it from France and names Narbonne as the seat of the industry ("apud non maioribus sumptibus fit quam in Gallia Narbonensi, idco potius emendurn cat a mcrcatoribus qui illud e Gallia afferunt"). The second official Xuremburg edition of the "Dispensatorium Valerii Cordi,"issued in 1592, lists not less than 61 distilled essential oils, 8 which fact illustrates the rapid development of the knowledge of essential oils as well as official acceptance.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it was chiefly the pharmacists who improved methods of distillation and made valuable investigations into the nature of essential oils. Of special importance was the work of the French apothecaries, M. Charas (1018-1698), N. Lemery (1645-1715), A. J. GeofTroy (1(585-1752), G. Fr. Rouelle (1703-1770), J. F. Demachy (1728-1803), and A. Haum6 (1728-1804); their German colleagues, Kaspar Neumann (1683-1737), J. Ch. Wiegleb (1732-1800), and F. A. C. Gren (1760-1798); and the German-Russian pharmacist, J. J. Bindheim (1750-1825). Of other investigators of this period, we may mention two famous physicians, the Dutch, II. Boerhave (1668-1738) and the German, Fr. Hoffmann (1660-1743); and finally the man regarded as one of the first great industrial chemists, the Gorman, J. R. Glauber (1604-1670).

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