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Book Reviews

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Below are some reviews of various aromatherapy type books. Some reviews are years old, and some of the books may no longer be published. However, these reviews should be food for thought as they represent a historical record of the bedrock on which aromatherapy still stands. Most of the errors are still found in the majority of aromatherapy books, and are republished on numerous medicines and healthcare advice web sites.

There are few Aromatherapy books that I have respect for. Most of the popular aromatherapy books have some information that is useful. However, what lets them down badly are the therapeutic properties they attribute to essential oils.

Most of the first writers on the subject such as Lawless, Tisserand, Price, Rose, Worwood, etc., frequently noted the traditional or researched properties of the herbal extract taken internally as a medicine. Then they simply transferred those properties to the plants essential oil intended mainly as external applications. That fundamental and massive blunder continues with most of the modern books.

Why did these authors make these fundamental blunders? The main reason is that most had no training in the larger essential oils trade; no formal herbal training; no medical training; no sound training in essential oils chemistry, etc. Due to that, most did not know where to look for accurate information on essential oils. That research information was vast if you knew where to find it, but it was not to be found in complementary medicine resources.

It seems most of the public believe, that if someone publishes a book, that they must be knowledgeable on the subject. This is very far from the truth. Publishers as a whole only care about making money, not on the accuracy of the books they sell you.

Those with this desperate need to live in a fantasy world can buy any of this trades novels. In that respect people should stop and think why it is that the biggest selling books in the world are novels. It is lovely to be able to escape reality by being told that if you rub a bit of lemon oil over your liver that it will cure your gallstones! Those people who write well researched technical books do it for the love of what they do, not for money and fame.

Many books are missing from below. It just happens these are ones I already had basic reviews on.

Essential Chemistry for Safe Aromatherapy by Sue Clarke

Reviewed by Tony Burfield

A review of the atrocious book 'Modern Essentials' A Contemporary Guide to the
Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils" by aromatools.com

The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple By David Stewart

Reviewed by Robert Tisserand

Medical Aromatherapy by Kurt Schnaubelt.

Reviewed by Martin Watt

Clinical Aromatherapy in Nursing by Jane Buckle.

Reviewed by Maria Lis-Balchin & Martin Watt

Reshaping Herbal Medicine by Catherine O’Sullivan.

Reviewed by Martin Watt

A practical Guide to Aromatherapy by Lorrie Hargis.

Reviewed by Martin Watt

Aroma- & Clay Therapy by R.Ypma

Reviewed by Martin Watt

Complete Guide to Aromatherapy by Salvatore Battaglia.

Reviewed by Martin Watt

The Encyclopaedia of Essential Oils by Julia Lawless.

Reviewed by Martin Watt

Aromatherapy The Essential Beginning by Gary Young.

Reviewed by Martin Watt

Aromatherapy For All The Family by J. Kusmirek

Reviewed by Martin Watt

What would be the best books to add to ones collection?

A personal view by Martin Watt

The Chemistry of Essential Oils by David Williams. Click text for review.

I do have respect for most of the books written by Daniel Ryman.

I recommend Chrissie Wildwood 'Bloomsbury Encyclopaedia of Aromatherapy'.

A good basic starter is 'The Essential oils book' by Coleen Dodt.

Even in both the above, there are properties attributed to essential oils that are based on herbal medicines, but at least these authors tried to do the background research rather than just copying it from others.

Gattefosse's Aromatherapy is an excellent historical work written in 1937. ISBN. 0-85207-236-3. However, you need to be aware that he mostly used deterpenated oils not whole ones as many AT writers assume.

A good book on fixed oils and their uses is: New Vital Oils by Liz Earle. ISBN. 0-09-187669-9.

Generally the best sources of accurate technical, toxicological, dermal reactions and some therapeutic information can be found in the numerous International scientific and medical JOURNALS.

If you want good information then you have to pay for it. There is very little sound information on the medicinal and historical uses of essential oils to be found on the Internet. On the other hand, there is vast amounts of hype, lies and misinformation mainly on aromatherapy suppliers web sites. Sound information has never been a driving force in aromatherapy and numerous 'approved' courses still revolve their tuition around the trades 'novels'.

The list below is for those who are prepared to pay for good information resources. Many more good technical works can be added to this list.

The best books on essential oil history, production, botany and fragrance are those written on the subject of perfumery, or medical pharmacology from the mid I800s. Such books can often be 'picked up' by frequenting second-hand book shops (cheap) or by getting on the mailing list of antiquarian book dealers (expensive). Internet searching can locate copies of old books in various National Library collections.

PERFUME AND FLAVOUR MATERIALS OF NATURAL ORIGIN by Steffen Arctander. Available from allured Press, USA.

ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF COMMON NATURAL INGREDIENTS. ISBN 0-471-50826-8

POTTER'S NEW CYCLOPAEDIA OF BOTANICAL DRUGS AND PREPARATIONS. ISBN 0-85207-1973

THE BRITISH PHARMACEUTICAL CODEX 1934, or old US PHARMACOPOEIAS.

ADVERSE EFFECTS OF HERBAL DRUGS vol. I & 2 by De Smet. ISBN 3-540-55800-4

TEXT BOOK OF PHARMACOLOGY & THERAPEUTICS 1901 by W. Hale-White M.D. F.R.C.P.

A MODERN HERBAL by Mrs M.Grieve. Various publishers.Click textfor review.

CHINESE HERBAL REMEDIES 1984 by A. LEUNG.

THE ESSENTIAL OlLS by E. GUENTHER. Publ. Van Nostrand. New York.

ESSENTIAL OILS, 1976-1991,by Lawrence, B.M., Allured Publishing Co.

BOTANICAL DERMATOLOGY 1979 by Mitchell and Rook . (out of print)

ADVERSE REACTIONS TO COSMETICS by Anton de Groot. ISBN 90-900-2597-9

SCENTED FLORA OF THE WORLD by R. Genders, Publ. Mayflower.

STURTEVANT'S EDIBLE PLANTS OF THE WORLD 1919 republished 1972 by Dover.

THE CHEMISTRY OF ESSENTIAL OILS BY DAVID WILLIAMS. ISBN 978-1870228-31-2

AROMATIC PLANTS AND ESSENTIAL CONSTITUENTS. ISBN 962-238-112-X

The 'out of print' books, are frequently available from science or medical libraries.

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