Book Review: The Directory of Essential Oils by Wand Sellar

The properties of essential oils have been well known since ancient times and are the basis of aromatherapy, one of the gentler healing arts. Seller has compiled an alphabetical listing of 83 essential oils including many such trusted standbys as clary sage, lemon and eucalyptus along with more unusual offerings like cajuput and elemi.

Oils are listed with information about the portion of the plant that is used, its proper Latin name and extraction method. Additionally the oil’s chemical constituents, effect on the skin, mind and body, the aroma and properties are clearly spelled out. Most important are the precautions given as improper use may cause severe skin irritation, photosensitivity and worse. Suggestions given with each oil provides a quick reference guide for designing a harmonious, customized blend. In addition there is a full page of blends grouped together by such headings as resins, flowers, herbs, trees and more.

The history and myth section provides fascinating background information not typically found in most aromatherapy guides and makes for entertaining reading. Knowing that something as ordinary as nutmeg was used by the Egyptians for embalming, in India for intestinal disorders and throughout the Middle Ages to guard against the plague gives the aroma therapist renewed appreciation for their tools.

There are a few notable gaps, there is no mention of dragons blood resin or wintergreen oil for instance, but overall this informative, user friendly guide is certain to find a place on the aroma therapist’s bookshelf. 

Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.