From the Library
I regard all these books as classics and must-read for those who are passionate about essential oils and aromatherapy. This is not my full list, but it is a start. I will constantly be adding to this reading list.
Complete Aromatherapy Handbook
By Susanne Fischer-Rizzi
Published: 1990 by Sterling Publishing
Susanne Fischer-Rizzi’s book has always been my favourite. You can tell how passionate she is about essential oils in the way she describes them. Her description of each essential oil allows you to really understand the psyche and soul of the oil. She also incorporates the energetics of essential oils in describing their properties. Her description of ylang ylang is so eloquent and perfectly personifies my favourite oil:
She is much like the title character Carmen from Georges Bizet’s opera – fiery, temperamental, passionate and erotic. Although her emotions are deeply felt, she never loses her balance. Aware of her own fascinating radiance, she is capable of casting magic spells. Her wardrobe is bright and colourful and she loves to wear jewelry.
If you are reading this, then I have no doubt that you love all things to do with essential oils and aromatherapy. You will therefore relate to her introduction of essential oils:
Getting to know these heavenly scents is something like falling in love. They will touch your heart; make you more keenly aware of the beauty surrounding you, and open the door to your soul. Suddenly, every facet of your life will seem touched by magic.
I am sure you can relate to the first time you experienced essential oils!
Marguerite Maury’s Guide to Aromatherapy – the secret of life and youth
By Marguerite Maury
Published: 1989 by CW Daniel Company
Originally published in the French language as Le Capital Jeunesse in 1961 was first translated into English in 1964.
While this book provides us with very little information about the chemistry or pharmacology of essential oils and while the language Maury uses may now be a little old-fashioned, without a doubt, Maury was one of the original pioneers of aromatherapy that truly understood the holistic nature of essential oils and incorporated naturopathic principles into her practice of aormatherapy. I have often spoken about the need to have a holistic framework based on the principles of Ayurveda or Traditional Chinese Medicine. This is exactly what Maury was doing many years ago. In writing my 3rd edition of The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, I decided to reread Maury’s book and was blown away by so many comments that she made that are just as relevant today as they were over fifty years ago. She understood the impact of our emotions on our physical wellbeing at a cellular level:
Whether it be hatred or love, envy or anger which come to light in the course of an analysis, the material and physical life of the patient is always in danger. All these emotions have immediate repercussions on the different functions. Every physiologist knows the inhibition and disturbances of digestive or renal function, the excessive production of acid in the stomach as a result of worries and upsets. It is common knowledge.
Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit
By Gabriel Mojay
Published 1999 by Healing Arts Press
Gabriel Mojay succinctly provides us with the foundations of TCM in describing the principles of Yin and Yang and the role of the Five Elements, how they interact to support health and wellbeing, and what happens when the elements are out of balance.
For those of us not familiar with TCM terms, the words Shen, Yi, Po, Zhi and Hun may be just as foreign as many of the pharmacological terms used to describe the actions of essential oils. It may also be very tempting to confuse the functions of the meridians with the Western description of the body organs in anatomy and physiology. Therefore, it is reassuring that Gabriel has provided us with succinct and simple explanations so that when we read each essential oil profile, we can all understand what he means when he, for example, describes melissa as:
Harmonising both the Mind (Shen) and the Ethereal Soul (Hun), melissa is important for depression – particularly in those who are emotionally sensitive and do not respond well to pressure.
As the title of the book suggests, Gabriel has focused on the emotional, psychological and spiritual aspects of TCM and aromatherapy. I love the section on depression. He explains how we can better select essential oils for depression if we understand how a disharmony of any one of the Five Elements may lead to depression.
If this book is not already in your library, do yourself a favour and get hold of a copy now!
Medical Aromatherapy – Healing with Essential Oils
By Kurt Schnaubelt
Published: 1999 by Frog Ltd
Without a doubt, Kurt is one of the most perceptive aromatherapy authors around. The title of this book is a little misleading. One would be lead to believe that it is about medical aromatherapy as practised in France. He provides us with an insightful account of all that has gone wrong with healthcare in the West. He then presents us with a new holistic paradigm based on aromatherapy. He manages to skilfully integrate chemistry and pharmacology in a very accessible and engaging way to support his case for a more holistic framework in which to practise aromatherapy.
The Fragrant Mind
By Valerie Ann Worwood
Published: 1995 by Transworld Publishers
Ok, you will probably get sick and tired of me telling you this is another one of my all-time favourite aromatherapy books; however, The Fragrant Mind is another all-time favourite of mine!
The one reason I fell in love with essential oils is because they truly are a portal into our psyche and soul. When it comes to describing the psyche of essential oils – No one does it better than Valerie. She makes each essential oil’s personality come alive. This is a must-read book if you truly want to understand how to better use essential oils in your practice or daily use.
Aromatica: A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics – Volume I: Principles and Profiles
By Peter Holmes
Published 2016 by Singing Dragon
I have long been a big fan of Peter Holmes’ writing. I have his original books – The Energetics of Western Herbs (Vol. I and II). I first met Peter when he spoke at a 1998 aromatherapy conference in Sydney and explained to him that it would be so amazing to have a book dedicated to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine and essential oils. You cannot imagine how excited I felt when 18 years later Aromatica was published!
The first 6 chapters of Aromatica provide us with a very good grounding to many of the challenges facing aromatherapists and the essential oil industry such as quality control, sourcing essential oils, essential oil safety issues and how to define essential oils as bioactive remedies.
His essential oil profiles are very detailed with lots of excellent clinical advice. Many of us love blending tips. You will love his section on synergistic combinations and complementary combinations. The way he has structured the therapeutic functions and indications makes it easy to understand the clinical applications of each essential oil.
The only challenge with Peter’s book is that there is no introductory chapter describing all the TCM terms that he uses to describe the functions and indications of the essential oils.
I know several aromatherapists that have Aromatica; however, they explained to me that they found some sections so difficult to understand and read. For example, in the Chinese Medicine Functions and Indications section of German chamomile, Peter states:
- Activates the Qi, relaxes constraint, harmonizes the Shen and relieves pain
- Calms the Liver, descends the Yang, extinguishes wind and relieves spasms
- Nourishes Liver and Heart Yin, settles the Heart and calms the Shen
- Dispels wind-damp-heat from the skin and meridians and relieves pain.
This perfectly describes all the therapeutic activities of German chamomile within a TCM concept but unless you have read a book such as The Web That Has No Weaver by Ted Kaptchuk, you may find such descriptions very confusing.
This is such a comprehensive book, with so much information. The only advice I would give you is to brush up on some of the TCM terminologies to fully appreciate how amazing this book is. I am eagerly anticipating Aromatica: A Clinical Guide to Essential Oil Therapeutics – Volume II: Applications and Profiles, which I believe should be out later this year.
Essential Oil Safety, 2nd edition
By Robert Tisserand & Rodney Young
Published 2014 by Churchill Livingstone
This book without a doubt is the benchmark in understanding the true issues regarding essential oil safety. It provides us with the most comprehensive essential oil safety profiles for over 400 essential oils. This is a much-needed book at a time when essential oils are often over-regulated or poorly regulated and when they are often being carelessly used.
Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin
By Steffen Arctander
Published in 1994 by Allured Publishing
While it was originally written back in 1961, I am sure that it is still an invaluable reference for perfumers wishing to use aromatic ingredients of a natural origin such as essential oils and absolutes. This book is still the benchmark for explaining the organoleptic qualities of essential oils. It also provides us with a detailed explanation of the origin and production of the essentials oils, the risks of adulteration and practical advice on using the oils in flavouring and perfumery.
Fragrance – The Story of Perfume from Cleopatra to Chanel
By Edwin T. Morris
Published: 1984 by Products of Nature and of Art
My copy is now held together by lots of cello tape. I purchased my copy in one of those awesome New York bookstores on my first trip to New York in the early 1990s.
Can I tell you about my first trip to New York?
It was my first overseas trip with Carolyn and we were so excited to visit New York. I still remember arriving early Sunday morning and the taxi driver driving us to our hotel in Greenwich Village. It was summer and already warm. Along the footpaths lay piles and piles of uncollected garbage. The taxi driver explained that there was a garbage collector’s strike, hence all the garbage.
It really stank – but guess what? We were in New York and we were so excited to be there! The smell of garbage added to the excitement and we did not mind it at all. Still to this day, when I smell the putrid scent of decaying garbage, I get excited about my first trip to New York. It just goes to show how powerful a positive experience combined with an aroma can be. I always talk about this powerful relationship between memory and scent in my classes.
Now back to Fragrance – The Story of Perfume from Cleopatra to Chanel. Morris is a skilful writer who provides us with a wonderful narrative of the use of essential oils and natural aromatic ingredients in perfumery from ancient civilisations through to modern times.
This is a must-read for anyone who wishes to trace the use of essential oils as perfumes.