Book Review: The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils - The Science of Advanced Aromatherapy

This week the Kitchen Cupboard Underground reviews another book on aromatherapy and herbology.  The goal of these book reviews is to provide you insight if a book would be a good addition to your library.  Enjoy! 

The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils - The Science of Advanced Aromatherapy, Kurt Schnaubelt, Ph.D.
Healing Arts Press, 2011, 233 pages

The intent of Schnaubelt’s book is to take an individual, with an advanced understanding of aromatherapy, and further explore the depths of various essential oils. Schnaubelt does this by segmenting his book in to three sections: Part 1 – Understanding the Language of Plants; Part 2 – Exploring Authentic Essential Oils; and Part 3 – Healing with Essential Oils. One nice feature the author employs is the use of side captions for the reader to learn a bit more than what is presented in the body of the work. These captions cover: Plants in Arts and Culture; Scientific Context; Contributors to Aromatherapy; Background Information; Understanding Aromatherapy; and Recipes.  

Though this book is geared towards individuals with an advanced understanding of aromatherapy, Schnaubelt begins Part 1 of the book with almost a beginner’s overview in to the world of aromatherapy. The book is written in such a manner that an individual with a modicum of information could begin to build a new knowledge base that would allow them to continue reading the book with little struggle. There are some examples of case studies where individuals tested the properties of essential oils in regards to their antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties, which is an interesting historical tidbit. Having a section on the bioactivity of essential oils is quite fascinating as Schnaubelt depicts and explains how essential oils penetrate cell membranes. One such example is the relief essential oils provide to muscle cells from spasms. 

In Part 2 Schnaubelt delves in to being aware of essential oil authenticity, safety, diversity and fragrance. Rather than focusing on one style of aromatherapy, Schnaubelt briefly summarizes, and uses throughout the book, the various styles of aromatherapy from France, Britain and China. It is interesting to note that Paul Belaiche developed a three-step method for infectious treatment in France. This method is: 1. supporting the elimination of toxins; 2. eliminating residual pathogens; 3. supporting convalescence. The book contains a fair bit of information on the use of essential oils in China and their approach to it is quite fascinating. Some of their philosophy includes using the five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) and pairing them with appropriate essential oils to address a person’s needs. 

The bulk of Part 3 has a good balance of how to use essential oils and aromatherapy products for the maximum benefit of one’s physical and mental wellness. Schnaubelt discusses using essential oils: topically, internally, for common ailments, for the skin, chemotherapy-induced vomiting and nausea, cancer, cancer and autoimmune diseases, and Hepatitis B and C. It’s helpful that a sample formula is included as most novices tend to wonder how many drops of essential oils to use in a recipe. It can be challenging at first, but having a sample recipe aids in helping to understand how to best formulate your own. Included are detailed descriptions of how to use aromatherapy in the form of: liniments, creams/lotions/infused oils, in a bath or shower. 

Please note: I do not agree with the author’s stand point that you can use mild essential oils undiluted on your skin. Though this is possible, everyone’s skin is different and may be sensitive. By continuing this practice, you stand the chance of causing sensitivity to the oil through continued use undiluted. Essential oils should always be diluted even with a small amount of carrier oil. Though people do ingest essential oils, I strongly recommend you do so with the utmost caution or under the guidance of well versed aromatherapist. Though it is not a common practice in the United States, it is one that has been practiced for years in Europe. 

All in all, Schnaubelt does a fine job of providing those interested in advanced aromatherapy with an excellent overview and in-depth coverage of the subject. Each section of the book is well thought out and delivers as promised. I recommend this book to those with an advanced level understanding of aromatherapy.  For those just getting started, there are better options (such as this book).  Schnaublet's The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils - The Science of Advanced Aromatherapy is available through iTunes, Kindle and online retailers for around $15. Considering it is still in print, you might ask your local book store to order the book for you. Support local, buy local. 

Until next time, discover the power of learning something new.


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