Book Review: The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness

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by Jennifer Peace Rhind

For some time now, there has been a real need for an up-to-date and comprehensive book about essential oils and aromatherapy that is aimed precisely at the enthusiast rather than the professional. This book not only fulfils this need, but also delivers so much more!

At 480 pages, this is a lengthy read, however the text is organised into four distinct sections that divides the content into manageable chunks, and allows the reader to find information quickly when required. So, it is a both a reliable reference and a practically oriented resource. The content is presented very well indeed; this book is full of accessible information that is delivered at just the right level – it is not ‘preachy’, it is not in any way condescending, and at no time does it assume prior knowledge – and so all the reader needs is curiosity, a love of essential oils, and a desire to incorporate them into their lives. The positive, health-enhancing benefits and safety aspects of the oils are described accurately, backed up by a comprehensive bibliography which contains research papers as well as authoritative aromatherapy texts.

The ‘Introduction’ provides the backdrop – including the origins and characteristics of essential oils, safety issues and ways of using them. In Part 1 ‘The Oils’, we find information about quality, cautions and their therapeutic properties, followed by an A (allspice) to Y (ylang ylang!) of essential oils – individual profiles that give just enough information about the character of the oils to whet the reader’s appetite, and their specific uses and cautions. Hydrolats, carrier oils and butters are also included in this section; and so, the information needed for preparing blends is all in place.

Part 2 is entitled ‘Remedies’, and is organised by conditions, from ‘abrasions’ through to ‘workplace stress’. This is so very comprehensive, no situation that cannot be remedied by the judicious use of aromatics has been omitted, and indeed some unusual conditions have been included, such as ‘water warts’. Lora’s experience and knowledge really shines here – and professionals will certainly learn a lot. She includes an impressive range of blends for wide-ranging conditions and situations, showcasing her considerable understanding of synergy and her excellent ‘nose’. I have absolutely no doubt that practitioners as well as enthusiasts will be preparing these blends and benefitting from them. Also, from the aromatherapist’s perspective, this section will serve to inspire as well as confirm our practice.

Part 3, ‘Aromatherapy for Daily Living’ shows us how to integrate aromatics into our lives, elevating our personal care routines into beautifully aromatic experiences. Here, we learn about essential oils that are particularly suitable for skin, hair and oral care, accompanied by formulae for a wide range of aromatic preparations. Even our home needs are catered for –  hygiene, cleaning and environmental fragrancing for mood enhancement – it is all here. Finally, there is a short section on massage, again aimed at the enthusiast. Part 4 addresses ‘Practicalities’ such as equipment, measurements, percentages, and the storage of essential oils and products. Other useful inclusions are a glossary, and a list of resources – not only for supplies and equipment, but also professional organisations and aromatherapy journals and newsletters.

I am sure that most professional aromatherapists have clients who would like to use essential oils at home, and who have the desire to to understand more about aromatics and aromatherapy. Also, and most importantly, the direct engagement with essential oils, and the blending process, is, in itself, is profoundly therapeutic; it allows us to form a personal relationship with the oils. Here, at last, is a book that professionals can recommend to their clients.

This really is a ‘handbook for everyday wellness’. In the preface to the first edition, the late Nerys Purchon wrote “… each day I feel a deeper love for and gain a greater understanding of these magical essences”. Lora Cantele, in the preface to this second edition expresses her own love of essential oils, saying “I now encourage others to embrace this fragrant way of life. I have found my calling in service to others, as both a healthcare provider and an aromatherapy educator”. Both Lora and Nerys have provided both professionals and enthusiasts with a valuable resource, and have enabled us all to enrich our lives with aromatherapy. Thank you.

The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness by Nerys Purchon and Lora Cantele                         Publisher: Robert Rose Inc.                                                                   Published: September 11, 2014                                                                     ISBN: 978-0-7788-0486-4                                                                           Available at and most book stores

Jennifer Peace Rhind is a Chartered Biologist with a PhD in Mycology. She has worked in quality assurance, research, and development. A long-standing interest in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) led to qualification in massage, Aromatherapy and reflexology. She worked as a therapist and partner in a multidisciplinary complementary healthcare clinic, and as an Aromatherapy tutor. Following this, she was a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University for fourteen years, and remains involved in essential oil and scent education. She is the author of Essential Oils: A Handbook for Aromatherapy Practice, Fragrance and Wellbeing: Plant Aromatics and Their Influence on the Psyche, and A Sensory Journey: Meditations on Scent for Wellbeing all published by Singing Dragon Books.


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