Monday, March 3, 2014

Book Review: Essential Oils By: Susan Curtis

This is a quick book review of the book:

 Essential Oils 

Published by Neal's Yard Remedies (NYR Organics), written by Susan Curtis.

This book is a smaller, full color book, that goes into detail about 42 common essential oils.  It touches on the character of each oil, fragrance, therapeutic properties, psychological profile, and some safety data for each oil.

Then it goes into methods of application, and explains each one, and how to best apply them.  They discuss massage, baths, compresses, room sprays, burners and vaporizers, saunas, inhalations, gargles and mouth washes, cooking, and perfumes.

The first section of the book talks about essential oils, how they are made, how they affect the body, different natural chemical compounds that are found in essential oils, and how to store them.  Then there is a small section on basic safety, what do no and not to do with essential oils, essential oils that should always be avoided, and what oils can be safe to use on infants and children at what ages.

From there we proceed to the detailed information about each of the 42 essential oils discussed in the book.  Information about each oil consists of latin names, origin of the plant, description of the oil, method of extraction, main chemical constituents, therapeutic properties, psychological profile, most common uses, and safety data.

At the end of the individual oils, there is a chapter on base (carrier) oils.  This goes into the properties of different carrier oils, and explains why one might be used over another based on the situation.

Then there is a chapter on blending essential oils,  the basics of what you need to know to begin formulating your own blends, as well as recipes for making some blends yourself.

At the very end of the book there is a chart, with all the names of the essential oils discussed in the book, and the most common ailments they are used for.

Also in the back there is a list of recommended resources, and books.

The Pro's

So what are the pro's of this book?  Well, if you are someone like me, the beautiful glossy pages and full color photographs of plants, containers, etc are a BIG plus!  I get bogged down reading through books that are just one black and white page full of words after another.  Somehow it seems to loose the vibrance that so naturally goes along with essential oils.  

The book is laid out in a way that is very easy to follow and understand.  Needed information is given, but details that can be confusing, such as in depth chemical profiles of individual oils are not given here.  
The individual profiles for the oils are very well laid out, and easy to follow.  Each page for each specific oil contains headings, between the text to break it up nicely, as well as boxes full of facts in the margins that make it easy to flip back to and find safety data, most common uses etc.

I like that right at the beginning they make it very clear that many of the oils are NOT safe for infants and children, and have a handy little chart telling you which oils are safe for which ages 0-6 months, 6-12 months, 1-6 years, and 7-12 years.

I don't feel they are over paranoid about safety, but at the same time the book seems very responsible.  They do not discount that essential oils can be used very effectively internally for certain diseases and situations, but also note that you should only do so under the care of an experienced aromatherapist, or doctor who is educated in aromatherapy, and the internal use of essential oils.

The Con's

The book, because it is put out by a company that sells oils goes into a little detail on how they as a company produce their oils, and their pride in their products.  This is a VERY small portion of the book however, and unlike some other books I've seen published by essential oil companies, they do not go into detail about how their products are superior, and no other brand should be used for any of the other recommendations in the book, etc.  So all in all, I feel this is a very small con, but felt it should be noted.

The biggest con for me is that the individual essential oil profiles are listed in alphabetic order according to their latin names.  And while there is nothing wrong with this, to those who aren't familiar with the latin names of the plants, finding Yarrow listed first, followed by Frankincense, then Ylang Ylang, etc., could be a little confusing.  However, since there are only 42 oils discussed in this book, finding the oil you are looking for when you need a quick reference isn't very difficult at all.  Especially since the common name is printed in very large letters at the top left page of each oils spread.

Because the book was written and printed in England, there are a few recommendations that I feel were a little too conservative.  For example, in their list of essential oils that should never be used by anyone for anything was: wintergreen, camphor, cassia, cinnamon bark, hyssop, and sage.  There were other oils mentioned as well that I agree should never be used.  But the oils listed above I feel have a very appropriate place for certain applications.  Although using them without any knowledge, and not under the care of an aromatherapist could certainly be quite unwise, especially with a few of them.  However, laws differ in the UK to here, and many of the oils are on their "poison" list, so they would be required to list them as oils that should be avoided.  And again, this is a very minor thing, better too cautious than recommending something that could be dangerous, but it was a fact I thought I should mention.


So all in all my conclusion for this book?  I would highly recommend it.  It is easy to follow, gives a lot of great information that I have seen missing in many other books, like recommendations for children, and all the different methods of applications for essential oils.  Many people think unless you are rubbing them on your skin, or putting them in a diffuser there is little other way to use them, but that is only the beginning, and this book could help expand your horizons on that.  Also, the bright pictures, the thick coated pages, and the easy to find references located in boxes in the margins make it an extremely user friendly book, that would make a colorful and fabulous gift as well!

Well that's all for today!  I will be back with more reviews for other books soon!

If you would like to order the book you can do so here:  Essential Oils By Susan Curtis
Or you can simply google the book and order from many other great websites!

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