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Aromatherapy, A Complete Guide to the Healing Art.
by Kathi Keville and Mindy Green. The Crossing Press, Freedom, CA, 1995. Softcover. 156 pp. $14.95. ISBN 0-89594-692-0. Available from ABC Bookstore #B179.

Use of essential oil is increasing at a rapid rate in the U S. and this how to book fills a niche for the layperson. "In the garden of the senses lies the pathway to the spirit," is a sign pictured at the beginning of the book, I and this statement sets the stage for the content. Kathi Keville and Mindy Green, both t herbalists with a long history in the herb and aromatherapy business, have created a user-friendly practical manual on aromatherapy for the 90s.

There is a brief chapter on the history of fragrance, the physiology of smell, therapeutic applications of essential oils, and their psychological impact. Perfumery is well addressed with basic guidelines on fragrance categories, perfume notes, and beginning blending. There is an ingredient and note (or evaporation rate) list of some of the most popular commercial perfumes of today, in addition to a list of perfume formulas throughout history (1800 B.C. to the 1980s). For the aromatherapy enthusiast interested in what makes essential oils aromatic, there is a chapter on chemical groups. Of special note to past and future participants of the American Botanical Council's ethnobotanical trips are the recipes for "Insect-Aside Bug Repellant," "Cootie Oil," "Antifungal Powder," and "Soak Those Pups."

The majority of the book deals with what the authors know best -- aromatherapy in body care. A plethora of guidelines and recipes are given for massages, baths, creams, and oil combinations to treat all systems of the body. Therapeutic uses of oils are discussed in relation to body systems. The authors are careful to stress caution when using essential oils. A chapter presenting kitchen use of essential oils in recipes is a much needed area, somewhat scarce in today's general herb books.

The "Materia Medica" of essential oils is grouped by each plant's genus and includes historical information, family, extraction method, medicinal action, emotional attribute (unproved territory, anecdotal information), general considerations, and an interesting section called "Associated Oils" (oils of the same family or similar scents).

Included is information which will be invaluable to the newcomer to aromatherapy -- charts broken down by "condition" and chemical groups, and resources such as periodicals, education, supplies, and of special note. Occasionally, the index appears to fall short: some of the aromatherapy recipe ingredients are not found in the index.

With personal comments by the authors on their experiences with the varied uses of aromatherapy in everyday life, this book represents the use of essential oils from the perspective of two highly qualified herbalists.

Article copyright American Botanical Council.


By Penny King