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General Interest

Books that cover the broad scope of aromatherapy and essential oil uses

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The Art of Aromatherapy
Robert Tisserand

Paperback, 324 pages | First published 1977

This was the first book in English on aromatherapy.
Amazon reviewer: As a serious aromatherapist, I highly recommend this book. The subject matter that Tisserand delves into is quite diverse, and extremely interesting. The basics of essential oils are explained, which ties in nicely with a descriptive narrative of their use in ancient times. Chinese principles of Yin/Yang, life force, and organics are discussed. Reasons why aromas affect us are presented in detail, followed by uses of oils in the specific body systems, as well as those are used for treating the mind. The book introduces baths, various massage techniques, and skin care utilizing oils. Also provided are many simple and useful recipes. The second half of this excellent book discusses 29 essential oils in great detail. What is totally unique are the authors’ tables. They compare odor intensity, evaporation rate, whether an oil is Yin or Yang, and which planet rules it!

The Essential Oils Book: creating personal blends for mind and body
Colleen K Dodt

Paperback, 152 pages | First published 1996

Excellent introduction to aromatherapy, with many pages of recipes and formulations for baths, oils, perfumes, and remedies for common ailments. I met Colleen, an herbalist, in 1989 when she organized a lecture tour for me – Baton Rouge, Toronto, Detroit. While I was in Detroit, I drove to Ann Arbor and got married. Not to Colleen.

The Aromatherapy Companion
Victoria H Edwards

Paperback, 280 pages | First published 1999

I wrote this review when Victoria’s book was first published: “What a relief it is to read a book written by someone with so much good stuff to say! The Fifteen chapters include Safety Guidelines, Carrier Oils, Creating Blends, Aromatherapy and Ayurveda and an A-Z section with some 125 essential oils. These, along with the other ten chapters are laid out in a two-color text in a reader friendly fashion. Masses of useful practical information written with intelligence and verve.” I first met Victoria in 1987, when she helped organize the first ever US aromatherapy conference, in California.

Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art
Kathi Keville & Mindy Green

Paperback, 246 pages | First edition 1995, second edition 2009

Amazon reviewer: Finally a complete guide that is easy to read and affordable. The descriptions, explanations, and step-by-step preparation methods are written for the novice and are easy to follow. I especially like the quick reference on page 30 outlining the basic essential oils. The book is full of them, and I think they’re wonderful to use in concocting new, safe and different aromatherapy mixtures. The authors have done a remarkable job of translating the seemingly enigmatic language of aromatherapy. The charts in chapter four are especially helpful. Now lavender oil has become a relaxing addition to all my baths!


Books either written for practitioners, or covering specific aspects of aromatherapy

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Essential Oil Safety, Second EditionEssential Oil Safety: Second Edition
Robert Tisserand & Rodney Young

Hardcover, 784 pages | First published 2013

A Comprehensive Resource for Essential Oil Safety for Professional, Practitioner, and Industry Reference. The Only Reference of its Kind and a Must-Have Guide for any Health Professional, or Health Product Manufacturer.

  • A total of 400 essential oil profiles (305 new profiles include Clary Sage, Lavender, Rose, and Tea Tree).
  • A total of 206 constituent profiles, including 79 new ones.
  • Five new chapters exploring essential oil safety for particular human systems in detail:The Respiratory System (Chapter #6)The Cardiovascular System (Chapter #7)The Urinary System (Chapter #8)

    The Digestive System (Chapter #9)

    The Nervous System (Chapter #10)

  • New information and review of essential oil / drug interactions.
  • Over 4000 references!
  • A compendium of evidence-based working knowledge for safe essential oil use and applications.

The Chemistry of Aromatherapeutic Oils
E. Joy Bowles, 
Foreword by Robert Tisserand

Paperback, 236 pages | Third edition: 2003

This revised study of the chemistry and pharmacology of aromatherapy oils offers a practical approach to learning the basics of essential oils. Moving step-by-step at the molecular level through 89 scents, this work includes useful diagrams as well as techniques for oil extraction. Discussed are techniques for applying the benefits of aromatherapy to different body systems including muscles and joints, the respiratory system, and the immune system. An ideal handbook for those interested in aromatherapy as a holistic therapy, this work also provides many tips for how even the most simple applications of aromatherapy can improve one’s quality of life.

Janetta Bensouilah & Philippa Buck
Forewords by Robert Tisserand & Angela Avis

Paperback, 250 pages | First published 2006

From my foreword: “This subject area is only lightly touched on in most aromatherapy books, and it has remained a source of debate and confusion. Bensouilah and Buck have gone a long way to dispelling this confusion through their detailed discussion of, for example, transdermal permeation and skin barrier issues, excipients, and dosages and concentrations, as well as therapeutic effects. These discussions are woven into a foundation covering the basics of skin structure and function, essential oil chemistry and safety issues. A thorough understanding of dermatology underpins the book, and both current research and clinical knowledge are elegantly applied to the skin conditions discussed.”

Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy
Suzanne Catty

Paperback, 290 pages | First published 2001

Publisher’s blurb: “Hydrosols are the pure, water-based solutions created when essential oils are steam distilled. Through this process, a potent, yet subtle form of medicine is created, one that can be ingested as well as applied directly to the skin. Hydrosols are ideal for use with children, animals, and those with fragile immune systems. Suzanne Catty details the specifics of 67 hydrosols, provides formulas to treat more than 50 health concerns, and offers 40 delicious recipes in which hydrosols can be used. Her section on pets will help owners deal with urinary tract and digestive problems as well as grooming and odor issues.” I am quoted on the back cover, saying: “Suzanne Catty performs a great service to us all in bringing forth from obscurity this aspect of plant medicine, which is both ancient and modern.”

Aromatherapy for Bodyworkers
Jade Shutes & Christina Weaver

Paperback, 374 pages | First published 2008

Amazon reviewer: “An excellent book that is informed with an outlook that can only come from a working professional. Includes some sound scientific principles – down to how the size of the dropper bore will affect what you measure out. They even cover some basic chemistry though I’m glad there was only one chapter on that. The information includes dilution charts, blending tips and a comprehensive section on carrier oils as well as the in-depth profiles of a number of essential oils. Appropriate safety precautions are included. Each chapter has a worksheet at the end to allow you to test your own understanding of the preceding information.

Clinical Aromatherapy: Essential Oils in Practice
Jane Buckle

Paperback, 416 pages | Second edition 2003

From the back cover: “Dr. Buckle brings together those elements most important to practicing clinicians – grounding in the physical sciences, safety information, evidence from the scientific literature, and a wealth of personal clinical experience…This work is an important addition to the aromatherapy practice literature, and I strongly recommend it to all health professionals who are interested in this rapidly expanding complementary therapy.” Linda Halcón, PhD, MPH, RN.

Aromatherapy for Health Professionals
Shirley Price & Len Price (editors)

Paperback, 380 pages | First edition 1995, Fourth Edition 2012

Publisher’s blurb: “Covers the full spectrum of theory and practice from essential oil science and the foundations of practice to the application of aromatherapy for specific conditions. The fourth edition of this highly successful book provides a clear and authoritative introduction to aromatherapy as practiced in modern health care settings. It gives valuable information for any health professional wishing to develop their understanding of the subject, providing the in-depth knowledge needed to use essential oils in the practice environment.” I have known Shirley and Len since 1980. Shirley and I are currently the only recipients of aromatherapy lifetime achievement awards from the Association of International Aromatherapists.

Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit
Gabriel Mojay, Foreword by Robert Tisserand

Paperback, 190 pages | First published 1996

From the foreword: “Traditional Chinese Medicine is a massive edifice, built of painstaking observation, practice and skill. Making this inherently complex subject accessible and real, and at the same time merging it with the practice of aromatherapy, is no easy task, but one which Gabriel accomplishes with clarity and confidence. Every page draws the reader inexorably in to an intricate web of holistic truth. There is a complete rationale for selecting essential oils appropriate to the needs of the whole person, and many aromatherapists will find this ancient yet novel approach an enlightening one.” Gabriel and I have known each other for several decades, and in the late 80s and early 90s served on various aromatherapy association committees together.

Gattefosse’s Aromatherapy
René-Maurice Gattefossé, Edited by Robert Tisserand

Paperback, 164 pages | First published 1993

An English translation of the 1937 book that coined the word ‘aromatherapy’, this book is mainly of historical interest. Gattefossé was a chemist who worked in his family’s fragrance business, and in the early 1900s he began collecting material about the therapeutic properties of essential oils. Included are over 50 case studies from doctors, many relating to wounds sustained by French soldiers during the First World War. The author briefly describes how he successfully used lavender oil to treat a burn he sustained in his laboratory after an explosion. This event has taken on a mythical dimension, which has him instinctively plunging his burned hand into the nearest available liquid. The truth is slightly more mundane – he applied the oil intentionally when the wound became infected – but it was still an inspirational event for him. In addition to abscesses, ulcers and war wounds, there are cases relating to gynecology, urology, dermatology and veterinary medicine.


Books with full-color illustrations throughout

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The Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy
Chrissie Wildwood
| Paperback, 320 pages

From the publisher’s blurb: The author discusses all things aromatic, from essential oils to garden plants, with recipes for blending essential oils and practical tips for creating perfumes and beauty products. The numerous therapeutic uses of aromatherapy are applied to 10 major systems of the body with specific remedies given for more than 70 ailments. Color photographs illustrate step-by-step a full-body aromatherapy massage, accompanied by specific advice on massaging pregnant women, babies, children, and elderly people. There is also a helpful section concerning sports injuries. Useful for the beginner, this comprehensive reference is an invaluable addition to the library of the serious student and professional practitioner of aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy Massage for You
Jennie Harding, Foreword by Robert Tisserand

Hardback, 144 pages | First published 2005

From the foreword: “Essential oils can be useful in many ways, and this beautifully designed book contains a feast of information, including many valuable safety tips. I urge you to follow them. I have known Jennie for many years, first as an aromatherapy student, and then as a teacher at the Tisserand Institute. Jennie has a passion for plants and essential oils, and she writes with vitality and wisdom. I can appreciate how much work has gone into researching the history and tradition of each plant, and into creating the hundreds of blends in this book. Jennie’s breadth of knowledge and years of experience are showcased here in this wonderful introduction to aromatherapy and massage.”

Sacred Luxuries: Fragrance, Aromatherapy & Cosmetics in Ancient Egypt
Lise Manniche

Hardcover, 160 pages | First published 1999

From the publishers blurb: The Egyptians attached great importance to perfumes and cosmetics, which men and women wore to make themselves attractive and alluring, to restore vitality and good health, and as a means of venerating the gods and of negotiating a passage to the realm of the hereafter. In this lavishly illustrated, oversized book, Lise Manniche looks at the role played by scents and cosmetics in ancient Egyptian society and discusses their preparation – in some cases providing actual recipes. Drawing on Arabic and other sources, Manniche explores the application of perfumes in ritual and on social occasions, and examines the erotic connotations of scent in Egyptian art and poetry. Fragrant remedies, the central element in ancient medicine, are fully discussed.

Books about the sense of smell

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Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell
Constance Classen, David Howes, Anthony Synnot

Paperback, 248 pages | First published 1994

Publisher’s blurb: “Smell is a social phenomenon, invested with particular meanings and values by different cultures. Odors can enforce social structures or transgress them, unite people or divide them, empower or disempower. This book breaks the “olfactory silence” of modernity by offering the first comprehensive exploration of the cultural role of odors in Western history – from antiquity to the present – and in a wide variety of non-Western societies. Its topics range from the medieval concept of the “odor of sanctity”, to the aromatherapies of South America, and from olfactory stereotypes of gender and ethnicity in the modern West to the role of smell in post-modernity.” I met Constance and David in 1995, when Constance gave a presentation at an aromatherapy conference that I organized. She spoke on “A Short History of the Role of Smell in Medicine.”

The Scented Ape: The Biology and Culture of Human Odour
Michael Stoddart

Paperback, 286 pages | First published 1990

From the publisher’s blurb: “Examines the sense of smell in humans, comparing it with the known functions of the same sense in other animals. Odorous cues play a role in sexual physiology and behavior in animals and there are claims that odor can play the same role in humans. The place of odors and scents in aesthetics and in psychoanalysis serves to illustrate the link between the emotional centers and the brain. The book presents arguments to explain the way in which our ancestral past has given rise to our modern day olfactory enigmas. Containing a glossary and chapter summaries the book will be accessible to a wide audience.” I met Michael at the first Psychology of Perfumery conference in 1986, where we were both giving presentations. If you go here, you will see him right behind George Dodd.

What the Nose Knows: the Science of Scent in Everyday Life
Avery Gilbert

Hardcover, 290 pages | First published 2008

Avery describes himself as a “psychologist, smell scientist and entrepreneur” – certainly, few people know more about the sense of smell. This beautifully written popular science book perfectly blends the author’s rich personal experience with fact. In this entertaining and enlightening journey through the world of aroma he elegantly dismantles some popular myths, illuminates the latest scientific discoveries, and offers keen observations on modern culture. From brain-imaging laboratories to the high-stakes world of scent marketing, What the Nose Knows takes us on a tour of the strange and surprising world of smell. I met Avery at the second Psychology of Perfumery conference, in 1991.

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