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Handbook of Essential Oils: Science, Technology, and Applications

Handbook of Essential Oils: Science, Technology, and Applications, 2nd ed., by Gerhard Buchbauer and K. Hüsnü Can Başer, eds. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2016. Hardcover; 1,109 pages. ISBN: 978-1-4665-9046-5. $199.95.

The second edition of Handbook of Essential Oils: Science, Technology, and Applications is a collective work, written by top scientists and led by two eminent specialists in medicinal and aromatic plants: Gerhard Buchbauer, PhD, and K. Hüsnü Can Başer, PhD.

This text is 1,109 pages of pure interest on essential oils, and it provides a crucial compilation of information related to their development, use, and marketing, with a particular focus on their chemistry, pharmacology, and biological activities.

No topic is left out: history and production, chemical analysis and quality control, toxicity and adulteration, pharmacognosy and medical use, pharmacodynamics and biotransformation by the living, galenic and industrial use, trade and legislation. Each topic has its own chapter(s), well-documented, with an extensive bibliography.

Whether it be researchers, professors, professionals and industrials, herbalists, or simply curious individuals, this work is of considerable interest to essential oils enthusiasts, thanks to its large knowledge base, which is supported by up-to-date data.

If I could borrow from Woody Allen, I would name this book Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Essential Oils but Were Afraid to Ask.

Compared to the first edition, this book presents new chapters on the natural variability of components occurring in essential oils, and on the natural processes that cause adulteration of essential oils; revisions, updates, and expansions of previous chapters; and a split of the previous chapter on biological activities and antioxidative properties of essential oils.

The book is divided into several large sections:

Part I describes the sources, production, and natural variability of essential oils. This part is a beautiful study, precisely integrating the concept of “chemotype,” which is essential for the understanding of aromatherapy.

Part II concerns chemistry. These chapters lead to the understanding of the biosynthetic pathways of aromatic compounds, discuss the most relevant analytical methods for quality control, describe adulteration, and lay the foundations for the safe use of aromatic molecules and essential oils.

Part III focuses on pharmacology, toxicology, and biological activity of essential oils, with two very important chapters describing the metabolism of terpenoids in animal models and humans, as well as encapsulation and other programmed released techniques for essential oils and volatile terpenes.

Part IV describes the biotransformation mechanisms of terpenoids in microorganisms, fungi, green algae, insects, mammals, and other living things. This is timely now that ecotoxicology is becoming more and more important.

Part V discusses the use of essential oils in aromatherapy, veterinary medicine, agriculture, and cuisine.

Part VI describes the trade, storage, labeling, and transport of essential oils.

Part VII reviews the recent European Union legislation update on flavors and fragrances and its impact on essential oils.

This “handbook” will assist anyone working on or interested in essential oils. The first edition never leaves me, nor will the second. The quality of this book definitely outshines its price, considering the amount of knowledge it provides.

—Francis Hadji-Minaglou, PharmD
Scientific Director,
Grasse, France