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Review: The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils

Julia Lawless’ The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils In Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health, and Well Being is a comprehensive resource on essential oil has completed an area of my library that I didn’t have information on. I approach this book as a magickal practitioner, and while there are many great books on the folk lore and magickal correspondences of plants and essential oil – this book takes a different approach – the aromatherapy and holistic healing of essential oils. While the book takes more of a medicinal and therapeutic approach she still adds enough to honor the folklore and traditions surrounding the history of these plants and their oils.

Full of old wood-cuts and illustrations that are always sure to win brownie points with me, the book begins with discussing the historical roots of essential oils – from ancient civilizations to alchemy to modern science to the birth of aromatherapy. One of the things I loved about this book was that it had therapeutic guidelines and safety precautions not mentioned in a lot of the books I’ve come across. A lot of people don’t realize how dangerous essential oils can be if you don’t know what you’re doing.

The book then dives into how essential oils work on various systems of the body including the skin, circulation, muscles, joints, the respiratory system, the digestive system, the genito-urinary and endocrine system, the immune system, the nervous system and the mind. The book also covers a whole chapter on various ways essential oils can be used in your life. There’s also a chapter on creating blends and a chapter discussing the chemistry of plants and how essential oils are extracted.

The encyclopedia portion of the book contains 204 common essential oils. The entries include the common name, scientific name, scientific family, synonyms, a general description, distribution, other species of the plant, herbal and folk tradition uses, actions, methods of extraction, characteristics, principal constituents, safety data, aromatherapy uses and other uses.

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