This week’s aromatherapy book review is a review of a book I would refer to as my “bible of aromatherapy” when I first started studying essential oils! I also continue to use it a lot today, as confirmed by the dog-eared copy that I now own! The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, written by UK aromatherapist Julia Lawless, profiles over 160 essential oils, complete with pictures, uses, extraction methods and related plant species.
About Julia Lawless
Julia Lawless is the author of several books including The Aromatherapy Garden which I reviewed a couple of months ago. In addition to the author bio material that I wrote in that post, Julia Lawless writes in the acknowledgements section of The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils that she gained her interest in essential oils (and herbal remedies) from her Finnish grandmother. Her mother was also involved in the research of essential oils and plants, so it is probably no surprise that Julia Lawless herself compiled this comprehensive guide to essential oils.
What I Like About The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils lists safety data in an easy- to-read box at the top of each essential oil profile; this easy-to-read format is continued throughout the page, making it quick and easy to see at a glance the origin, uses, suggested oils to blend with, characteristics, actions, constituents and traditional use of each essential oil. I also like that fact that there is a photo or illustration of each plant. In addition, although there are over 160 essential oils listed in the book, Julia Lawless also includes essential oils that are not commonly used in aromatherapy today but also indicates this fact (often with reasons why) – for example wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) essential oil.
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils also includes a general glossary so that you understand some of the terms used in aromatherapy, botanical classification of essential oils by plant family, a brief history of aromatherapy, therapeutic guidelines, how essential oils work and methods of application. I would say that perhaps the only drawback to the book is that the essential oil profiles are listed by botanical name, so if you are new to the world of aromatherapy, it might be a bit confusing at first before you become familiar with the plant names. However, there is a botanical index at the back of the book which directs you to the page number for the more familiar English name – and by listing the essential oils in this way, it forces you to become familiar with your botanical names more quickly! Which is not a bad thing 🙂
This book might be a bit pricey for US customers in mint condition but it is possible to pick up a used copy through Amazon starting at $44.50. If you are going to splash out on one good reference book for aromatherapy – and are serious about your essential oils – I would highly recommend The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils!