Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Aromatherapy by Kathi Keville & Mindy Green

Aromatheraphy cover

by Kathi Keville & Mindy Green

Trade Paperback: 156 pages
Publisher: The Crossing Press
First Released: 1995

Buy from Amazon

Source: Bought from Half.com

Back Cover Description:
Everything you need to know to enhance your health, beauty, and emotional well-being through the practice of aromatherapy. Kathi Keville and Mindy Green, who are masters in the fields of herbalism and aromatherapy, offer a fresh perspective on the most fragrant of healing arts.

Topics include:
*The history and theory of fragrance.
*Therapeutic uses of aromatherapy for circulation, digestion, respiration, immunity, and more.
*Instructions for creating personal beauty and skin-care products.
*Techniques for the home distillation and blending of essential oils.
*A materia medica listing the origins and uses of commonly available essential oils.

This book is about the medical and beauty uses of herbs and essential oils. Many years ago, I heard some tidbits about aromatherapy and bought some lavender fragrance oil from a store. I used it in my home office in hopes that it would relax me. The stuff made me dizzy (as perfumes often do) and didn't relax me at all. I thought "what a hoax" and gave the fragrance oil away.

Lately, I read the first chapter of a book about where spices and rare ingredients used in perfumes originally came from. I learned that true aromatherapy uses essential oils (oils distilled from a plant which happen to be strongly fragrant), not man-made fragrance oils that mimic the smell of the plant. I've occasionally used herbs for healing, so this made sense. I decided to learn more about essential oils.

This book gave suggestions for using both herbs and essential oils in health and beauty applications. It covered the use of herbs and essential oils in massage, in cooking, and in making perfume and beauty products like lip balm, lotions, daily skin care, shampoos, and so on. They gave enough scientific and detailed information that a person could safely and competently make their own mixes to achieve a desired effect. In the back, they also included quick-reference charts covering what essential oil was good for what. Overall, it covered a wide variety of information in good depth.

The authors kept to a fairly scientific approach to essential oils. Some books view essential oils in a mystical way, like they are a magical source of healing or courage/love/etc. potions. Essential oils are simply naturally-derived medicines, and very effective ones at that. Often, they're more effective and less harmful than the synthetic versions.

My one "complaint" is that the section detailing what each essential oil could do listed so many things for each oil that I couldn't believe they all did practically everything (at least, that's what it looked like on first reading). I wanted to know what each oil really did do, not all the uses people have ever used it for. So I bought Advanced Aromatherapy Kurt Schnaubelt (review coming next week), which clearly explains a number of scientific studies on what various essential oils do.

Oh, and I've bought some pure essential oils, and they really do work. I was expecting some small, barely-noticeable effect, but essential oils are powerful. My muscle-relaxing, sedative massage oil puts my parents (both the one giving and the one receiving the foot massage) into the best sleep they've had in years.

So if you can afford the initial outlay of buying essential oils and are interested in them, this is a good starting book.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Preface
Essential oils give plants their characteristic odors, enabling us to take deep drafts of a fragrant rose bloom or drink in the perfume of lilacs and lavender. It is because essential oils are by their very nature aromatic that the therapy involving their use has been christened "aromatherapy."

There are two main ways to use fragrance in healing. One is through inhalation alone, which has its most significant impact on mood and emotion, but also produces physical reactions, such as lowered blood pressure. The other route is the physical application of essential oils to the body--by massage, for example, or by applying antiseptic oil to stop infection. Of course, any time you use an aromatherapy oil medicinally it can't help but do double duty: the fragrance is also inhaled.

Exactly how aromatherapy works is still unclear. Some researchers speculate that odors influence feelings because the nasal passage opens directly onto the parts of the brain that controls emotion and memory. Others believe that fragrance compounds interact with receptor sites in the central nervous system. Psychic healers believe that fragrances work on subtle, still undiscovered energies in the body.

What we do know is that merely smelling a fragrance can influence us physically and emotionally by altering hormone production, brain chemistry, stress levels and general metabolism, as well as by affecting thoughts and emotions.

No comments: