Book review: Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, An Introductory Guide

Essential Oils and Aromatherapy book front cover

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Sonoma Press
343
23cm (H) x 15cm (W)
9" (H) x 6" (W)
2014
Paperback, Kindle
Here at Amazon

What the book is about

Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, An Introductory Guide provides the information you need to start using essential oils to create natural, non-toxic products for home, health and beauty.

The information includes ways to use essential oils, the tools and equipment needed, safety tips and even a list of 10 suggested essential oil vendors. The book also provides more than 300 recipes and basic profiles of more than 60 essential oils.

What the book contains

This book consists of three parts, with several chapters in each part.

Part 1

Part 1 gives you basic but useful background and information on essential oils and how to use them. It has three chapters.

Chapter 1 (Learn the Basics) describes what essential oils are, how they are made and provides a few key tips on how to use essential oils safely. It also has a one-pager on how essential oils were used in the ancient world.

Chapter 2 (Tools for Safe Healing) goes briefly into what to look out for when buying essential oils and what tools or equipment you need to begin using essential oils.

It also offers specific cautions for specific groups of people, such as pregnant women, children, pets and people with certain medical conditions. Note that the cautions here highlight the main essential oils to avoid, but are too brief to be relied on as your only reference.

Chapter 3 (Master the Methods) suggests some ways to use essential oils, including a paragraph on “What to watch out for” for each method. This includes both aromatic (inhalation) and topical methods.

Part 2

Part 2, with five chapters, dives into the actual using of essential oils. This section has more than 300 recipes and basic profiles of more than 60 essential oils.

Chapter 4 (A World of Natural Wellness) gives one or more recipe for each condition listed. About 110 conditions are covered and they’re impressively diverse. They range from the physical (ingrown toenails, diaper rash) to the mental (anxiety, moodiness), from skin-related (acne, freckles) to minor ailments (headaches, flu).

Chapter 5 (Wellness and Beauty Boost) offers another 16 recipes, this time specific to skincare, bodycare and haircare.

Chapter 6 (Simple Scents and Pleasures) contains recipes for making aromatherapy products, either for your own use or as gifts to family and friends. Five items are covered: candles, pillow spray, potpourri, sachets and scented stationery.

Chapter 7 (Your Natural Home) lists the last 11 recipes for using essential oils to make home-cleaning products (e.g. fabric softener, floor cleaner).

Finally, Chapter 8 (Your Personal Apothecary) is a quick reference guide to more than 60 commonly-used essential oils, listed in alphabetical order. Other than a one-paragraph description of each oil, it also briefly tells you what each oil is used for, how it’s used, what to watch out for and which other essential oils are complementary with it.

Part 3

This section is not labelled as Part 3 in the book, but it’s clearly a separate section from Part 1 and 2.

It contains two appendices, a glossary of common aromatherapy terms, recommendations on additional reading and an index.

These are all useful, but I’ll just go into more detail on the two appendices.

Appendix A is called “Top 25 Essential Oils and How to Use Them”. Honestly, I don’t quite understand why it’s labelled this way. There’re waaaay more than 25 essential oils mentioned in this appendix.

But confusing title aside, this is a helpful appendix. It classifies the essential oils by their primary therapeutic properties.

For instance, the therapeutic property of “Antidepressant” has 11 essential oils and “Digestive” has 8. This is very helpful if you want to create your own blends for a specific purpose.

Appendix B (Know Your Brands) gives some brief information on 10 vendors who sell essential oils. They’re nicely diverse. There’re big, established players such as Young Living and DoTerra, as well as smaller, more niche vendors such as Esoteric Oils and Essential Vitality.

Of course, there’re far more vendors out there than these 10. But what I think this book wants to do is provide you with a small selection so that you can, if you want, begin straightaway on getting the oils and trying them out for yourself. This is very in line with the book’s goal of being a comprehensive introductory guide.

My thoughts on the pros

1. This book indeed covers all bases. It tries, I think, to give enough information such that a very new and green beginner can read the book and start using essential oils straightaway.

For instance, in Chapter 2 (Tools for Safe Healing), the book doesn’t only say that you’ll need a carrier oil to use essential oils. The author probably knows that a beginner’s next question will be, “But which carrier oil should I use?”. So in the book, he also lists and briefly describes 14 popular carrier oils to give the reader some idea.

2. The book emphasizes safety. Where applicable, it provides cautionary highlights on specific oils, uses or recipes. This is very important to all essential oil users, but especially for enthusiastic beginners.

My thoughts on the cons

1. This doesn’t affect the quality of the practical information given, but I do find the history of essential oils a bit short. It’s only one page, or three-quarters of a page if you exclude the title and picture.

My thought is that if you’re going to tell the story of how essential oils are used in the ancient world, you may as well make it more interesting and meaty than a few short paragraphs. Otherwise just take this bit out.

This is just my opinion, but I think eager, practical-focused beginners aren’t going to be interested in this background at all, and readers with more inquiring minds will find this page unsatisfactory.

2. Only a small, half-page table is given for dilution rates, and there’s no mention of what concentrations are recommended as safe. This will hamper the beginner’s use of essential oils via topical application.

Although safe dilution rates differ for different essential oils, broad, prudent recommendations can still be provided based on the lower thresholds.

3. Chapter 3 (Master the Methods) should be a bit more comprehensive. The book includes diffusers that are also everyday items (towels, facial steamers) and electrical diffusers (vaporizers, nebulizers). But it does not include non-electrical diffusers such as clay diffusers and aromatherapy candles.

4. Readers who are into crafts or do-it-yourself projects may find Chapter 6 (Simple Scents and Pleasures) too simple. For instance, the instructions for making scented stationery boil down to: Put the stationery in a box, put a scented sachet in the box, keep the lid closed for at least two weeks.

If you’re a craft enthusiast looking for a book on how to make presents with essential oils, this is definitely not the book for you.

But to be fair, the focus of this book is clearly on remedies for minor ailments (Chapters 4 and 5), and there’re hundreds of recipes for that topic.

Summary

As the title (An Introductory Guide) implies, this book aims to be a beginner’s guide. And it is a very comprehensive one. It covers almost every aspect of aromatherapy that a beginner needs to know to start using essential oils. The exception is the information on dilution rates, which I feel could have been more detailed.

Because the book has to cover everything, it’s a bit of a Jack of all trades but master of none. That is, the book provides the reader with some basic information on every aspect of aromatherapy, but does not go in-depth into any area.

So readers who already know something about essential oils may find the book’s information a bit light. However, the recipes can still be useful.

Conclusion/ Recommended for: A great all-rounder guide for beginners who want to know enough to get started quickly and safely, and who don’t need too in-depth information. But the book doesn’t provide a lot of information on dilution rates. So readers who want to use essential oils topically will need to look for other sources on dilution rates.

Want the book? You can buy it here at Amazon.

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