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Aromatherapy - Using Essential Oils

What is aromatherapy? Technically, aromatherapy is the art and science of using essential oils from plants to promote natural healing and emotional well-being.

Essential oils are the aromatic essence of a plant, very concentrated extracts, obtained through distillation (steam) or cold-pressing (as with citrus peels). These oils, alone and in combination, are used in holistic healing techniques for emotional problems, physical problems and for all manner of natural beauty products for those wishing to avoid the toxic chemicals prevalent in commerical products. Essential oils form the basis of most perfumes as well.

However, any use of scent to calm, heal or enhance the emotions and health is a practical use of aromatherapy. Scented candles, incense, potpourri, bath oils, herbal teas, and even fresh flowers from your garden, all serve to alter and improve our moods and our well-being. Pleasurable, soothing, or appetite-enhancing scents in any form count as aromatherapy.

In medieval times, essentials oils in candles, concentrated herbs in incense and potpourri, powerful colognes and perfumes, and the natural scents of fresh plants, herbs and flowers scattered on the floors and elsewhere were commonly used, and deemed highly necessary, to cover the more noxious odors of poor hygiene and sanitation.

Today, house plants can help clean your indoor air of pollutants, and adding the lovely, subtle and soothing scents available through judicious use of aromatherapy candles, infusers, and oil burners can cleanse your mind of stress, relax your body, and make your home a peaceful oasis even in the midst of modern grime and unpleasant odors.

Following are books on aromatherapy and essential oils for medicinal use, as well as books on natural and herbal beauty with recipes and gift ideas, followed by books on how to make perfume.

Buy Books about Aromatherapy and Essential Oils for Natural Health and Beauty

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The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
by Valerie Ann Worwood

Worwood thoroughly explains the uses of essential oils for personal care, physical and mental health, and a safe home environment. Includes more than 500 recipes using essential oils as alternatives to often toxic human-made health, beauty, and cleaning products. The focus is on an in-depth look at ten basic oils, how they work and how to blend. A good choice for beginners.

You might also enjoy her book, The Fragrant Mind: Aromatherapy for Personality, Mind, Mood and Emotionwhich details in easy to read language ways to use aromatherapy to maintain a peaceful mood equilibrium and bring healing for mild mood disorders.

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The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils:
The Complete Guide to the Use of Oils in Aromatherapy and Herbalism
by Julia Lawless

Fascinating and extremely thorough discussion of just what essential oils are, the plants they come from, their properties and uses - organized in a complete A-to-Z dictionary of over 150 herbs and essential oils. The emphasis is on medicinal uses. Over 600 color photos and illustrations. A must-have reference for anyone with an interest in aromatherapy. Recommended.

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The Essential Oils Book: Creating Personal Blends for Mind & Body
by Colleen K. Dodt

A truly terrific book for beginning and intermediate aromatherapists - Dodt provides very clear directions for creating dozens of aromatherapy blends for yourself and for gift-giving. Only a bit of history, good explanations of the basic science involved, and lots of special tips. Makes good use of common, easily available essential oils. A true gem.

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Aromatherapy Blends and Remedies: Over 800 Recipes for Everyday Use
by Franzesca Watson

We include this book because it lists more recipes than any other - which is not to say it's the best. Working from a base of 60 essential oils (that's a lot of money right there), Watson does indeed provide 800 recipes for medicinal/emotional use, but without a great deal of explanation. Sometimes less is more. Those with a good working knowledge of aromatherapy may find much to use here, but we would not recommend it for beginners.

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Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance with Essential Oils
by Gabriel Mojay

In this unique synthesis of Eastern and Western healing approaches, Gabriel Mojay combines the practice of aromatherapy with the wisdom of traditional Chinese medicine. Mojay explains the esoteric and energetic healing properties of 40 essential oils and shows how they can be used to manipulate qi, the body's vital energy, to stimulate healing from negative emotional and mental states. Some forms of nervous tension, for example, are caused by stagnant qi energy, which can be released with essential oils.

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The Herbal Home Spa: Naturally Refreshing Wraps, Rubs, Lotions, Masks, Oils, and Scrubs
by Greta Breedlove Garber

Garber offers dozens of wonderful easy-to-make recipes for home beauty care using natural ingredients - not aromatherapy oils, just your basic herbs, fruits, and vegetables - with all kinds of marvelous variants on the type of beauty tips we all grew up with (lemon rinse for lighter hair, etc.). Recipes include "facial steams, scrubs, masks, and lip balms; massage oils, baths, rubs, and wraps; hand, nail, and foot treatments; and shampoos, dyes, and conditioners. Includes bathing rituals and massage techniques." A great resource for natural beauty.

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Natural Beauty for All Seasons: More Than 250 Simple Recipes and Gift-Giving Ideas for Year-Round Beauty
by Janice Cox

Cox follows up her popular book, Natural Beauty at Home, with this terrific second volume - over 200 lovely recipes for homemade body, bath and hair care, organized by the availability of ingredients and special beauty needs (eg, dry skin in winter) throughout the seasons of the year. Also includes over 50 gift-giving recipes and ideas based on holidays throughout the year. Easy-to-follow instructions and readily available natural ingredients (some essential oils are used).

If you're already a fan of Cox's books, you might also like the third book in her series, Natural Beauty from the Garden, with 200 recipes based on common flowers, plants, herbs, and grasses.

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Perfumes, Splashes & Colognes: Discovering and Crafting Your Personal Fragrances
by Nancy M. Booth

This is a fun book! Booth has you take a "personal scent profile" quiz and leads you through exploring and creating your perfect scent using herbs, essential oils, fragrance oils, and alcohol. She also teaches you how to recreate some of your favorite commerical scents for a fraction of the cost. Easy-to-follow directions, interesting and useful information on the history and making of perfume, plus suggestions for where to find ingredients. A terrific way to learn to make your own "signature scents."