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Aromatherapy for Health Professionals

Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, 3rd ed., by Len Price and Shirley Price. Oxford, UK: Churchill Livingstone, Elsevier; 2007. Paperback; 576 pages. ISBN-13: 9780443101342. $53.95. Available in ABC’s online store.

The third edition of Aromatherapy for Health Professionals is a comprehensive book outlining the safe and effective uses of essential oils in complementary healthcare as palliative treatment and integrative therapy for a wide range of health conditions. A forward by His Royal Highness Prince Charles endorses aromatherapy and indicates the prince’s support of integrative care among healthcare providers in the United Kingdom. As founders of the International Federation of Aromatherapy and fellows of the Institute of Aromatic Medicine, the authors follow strict guidelines for external application only, as is allowable by certified aromatherapists throughout Great Britain. The author of 12 other books on aromatherapy, Shirley Price is a long respected aromatherapist whose reputation exceeds the boundaries of the United Kingdom. Her husband Len Price co-authored one of those books on carrier oils and another on hydrolats.

Even though this is a text targeted to the professional market, the introductory chapters provide an easy-to-understand foundation of aromatherapy for the serious novice. Technical details of botany pertaining to aromatic plants give even the most experienced practitioner a greater understanding of aromatherapy as a phytotherapeutic extension of herbalism, as information is provided on secretory structures, as well as the creation, purpose, and therapeutic value of essential oils. Aromatic chemotypes, which allow for greater specificity in using essential oils for focused uses by experienced practitioners, are supplied from the genera Rosmarinus and Thymus. Though Eucalyptus and Melaleuca are overlooked in this section, they are detailed in the materia medica. Hybrids and species of Lavandula are covered for their useful differences and specific applications. The botanical families of various aromatic plants and their summarized and generalized actions are not this thoroughly covered in other aromatherapy books. Len is well versed in—and does a thorough job educating the reader on—aromatic chemistry and quality of essential oils.

The authors’ vast experience as educators is reflected in this edition, which is well organized and allows one to find specific information easily. Compared with the previous edition, expanded areas include 24 additional essential oil profiles, bringing the total materia medica of individual oils to 101. New research and updated references provide the latest scientific research applicable to this healing modality. The chapters on carrier oils and hydrolats incorporate new information that is likely expanded from their 2 previous and separate books. New illustrations, easy-to-read charts, and an updated index including indications and properties make this a useful reference book, if you are not the type to read cover to cover. The glossary of medical terms is a boon to less medically inclined practitioners wishing to expand their understanding of the remedial uses of essential oils. I especially appreciate the tables that outline specific essential oils and their application to specific bacteria, viruses, and fungi, as well as the countless charts specific to conditions.

The section on safety of essential oils is thorough, reflecting the Prices’ awareness and consideration that this issue is of utmost importance. The updated discussions for expanding safety awareness for the practitioner and client make this a useful read for anyone providing or receiving aromatherapy services. The weaving of current science while remaining focused on healing outcomes is skillfully done.

The book is replete with case studies, showcasing the extensive personal experience of the authors. It is understandably focused on the context of the UK medical system, where essential oil use is accepted and sought after by the lay-public and well established in hospitals. There are contributed writings and case studies from nurses and midwives sharing their experiences of using essential oils in a hospital or clinical setting—something less accepted and rarely allowed in the United States, with few exceptions. It is interesting to read of the policies and practices allowed in other countries for essential oil use in modern healthcare. Perhaps books for professionals such as this one will sway our medical model into seeing the benefits of incorporating essential oils into complementary care here in America, especially regarding the huge wave of rampant bacteria to which one is most likely to be exposed in hospitals. With over 500 bibliographic citations, I highly recommend it as a thorough read and a great reference book.

—Mindy Green Clinical Aromatherapist Botanical Research Division R & D Aveda Corporation Minneapolis, MN