When you are new to essential oils, you need a really thorough reference manual, laid out in layman’s terms to give you some guidance and direction for how to use essential oils. Putting a few drops of lavender eo in your Epsom salt soak or adding 3 drops of rosemary eo to a massage oil before a massage treatment for sore muscles, are stress-free introductions to the use of essential oils. However, because essential oils are more concentrated than the dried plant material used for tisanes or the tinctures used for oral treatments, guidance is essential to their safe, therapeutic use. Essential oils are more potent than other herbal remedies, and used by the drop rather than by the spoonful.
A useful essential oil manual would suggest when to apply them on your skin, when to use them in an atomizer, or when to put a drop in water and drink it. A useful manual would suggest which oils to combine for different problems and give you the principle mode of action for each oil. It would suggest substitutions so that if there was a world shortage of one essential oil due to a crop failure or increased demand, you would know your other options. I was hoping that The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple was such a book.
The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple by David Stewart (Care publications, Marble Hill, MO) 2005
My Rating: 2 stars out of 5.
I bought The Chemistry of Essential Oils made simple from Tropical Traditions. I thought I was buying a general, unbiased reference manual that would help me understand the essential oils that I purchase and use regularly. I was hoping to be able to look at the chemical composition of various essential oils and determine essential oil substitutions easily, based on the chemical constituents of various oils. I was hoping for a layman’s manual that would help me with the decision making process of how to use essential oils effectively in my home. This is not that book.
Dr. David Stewart has a PhD in geophysics (not organic chemistry) and Doctor of Natural Medicine through the WONMP. He is an “essential oil practitioner” trained in essential oil use by Gary Young, founder of Young Living Essential Oils. He uses predominantly Young Living brand oils with their trademark names throughout the book, without breaking down the ingredient oils in the blends, lessening the value of the book as a resource for general knowledge of essential oils. This was not obvious from the spiel about the book both on Amazon and on the Tropical Traditions website, where I purchased the book.
Who it’s written for:
The book is predominantly written for those who sell Young Living (YL) brand essential oils and have a full complement of that brand’s stock to draw on when treating family ailments. Those who sell YL essential oils call themselves, “essential oil practitioners.” If you sell or use another brand of essential oils, this book will not be as valuable to you.
What’s in the book?
The book is written in esoteric language rather than scientific language. While there are chapters on general organic chemistry principles, the issues are confused by the abundant cryptic allusions throughout the text. The oils are considered to have a will and consciousness of their own. While one would assume the author is speaking metaphorically, it becomes evident as one gets deeper into the rhetoric, that he has some strange presuppositions. The book concludes:
“Their (the plants’) silent language is one of the spirit and can only be heard through the spirit. But plants won’t teach just anyone. They have entrance requirements and pre-requisites before you can be accepted into their special university of flowers, fields, and forests. Their entrance exam is patience. Their pre-requisite is love. Their code of conduct is respect for nature. Their tuition is a commitment to serve and share with others.
The true and complete chemistry of essential oils cannot be learned from a book like this. It can only be learned from God speaking directly to you, through his loving creation –the oils and plants themselves.” (p. 737)
If this had been the very first paragraph in the book instead of the last paragraph I would have run the other way. I eschew esoteric, hidden (occult) knowledge. (The word “occult” means “hidden”.) I don’t buy books that conclude with the idea that if you didn’t understand the rhetoric in the book it’s because you are NOT one of the chosen. That’s an excuse for unclear writing, and confused logic. If the meaning is hidden why write 750 pages to prove it?
The book is long and heavy. The language is verbose and the logic murky. If you are looking for living water, you won’t find it here. This book is all New Age smoke and mirrors with very little substance and a little absinthe thrown in. Don’t be persuaded by the god-talk – this is not a book that draws from the wealth of truth in the Holy Scriptures and orthodoxy. It simply uses scriptural quotes as the pepper to legitimize the clouded, occult claims – much like the false prophets of ancient times.
If you are already a Young Living “essential oil practitioner,” this book will teach you how to speak the language of obfuscation so that you will sound like you have hidden knowledge, and you will sound like you “know” something valuable and have enlightenment beyond your peers. But you will learn very little true knowledge. The chemistry the book promises to teach you, is trivial and demonstrated mostly with diagrams of chemical models that can be found in any organic chemistry text and unexplained charts with Latin names and chemical compounds.
It doesn’t tell you what ailments each essential oil blend is beneficial for. There is no chart to help you with treatment protocols. It doesn’t give you any idea for substitutions of one essential oil for another essential oil. It also doesn’t explain the value of different chemical compounds found in various essential oils – even though it lists these compounds by their scientific jargon. You are going to need another reference book to tell you that – perhaps one of the references listed in the annotated bibliography for this book.
Essential Oils that mimic estrogen and progesterone
For instance, in chapter 11 there is a discussion of phyto-hormones and their relationship to pregnancy, menopause, and lactation. I was expecting a list of essential oils that were safe during pregnancy and lactation or at the very least a list of those that could be considered estrogenic, and therefore to be avoided. After reading the chapter, I came to the conclusion that Mr. Stewart didn’t study that. He was more concerned with his premise that there are no contradictions to essential oil use, and that although some plants have estrogenic properties, it only serves to balance the body’s natural hormonal response. However in putting this premise forward he doesn’t support it with any evidence – either anecdotal or from research. Frankly, I wouldn’t want the future life of my yet-to-be-conceived grandson riding on such flimsy science. This is one area where you want to err on the side of caution not pseudoscience. I was expecting so much more from this book based on its title, and it didn’t deliver.
Essential oils are an essential part of wellness and first aid at Joybilee Farm
Don’t get me wrong. I am not anti-essential oil. In fact, I use essential oils regularly. I value good quality, organic, steam-distilled, essential oils. I use essential oils every day in my home and with my family. They have been part of my life for over 30 years. They are important, also in my organic treatment of my livestock for various maladies from joint-ill to mastitis.
Over the years I’ve bought essential oils at the local health food store, at the grocery store, at the pharmacy, online from different essential oil businesses and soap suppliers, and wholesale directly from the essential oil distributors in bulk. Lately, I’ve found really good value in the new essential oils that Tropical Traditions are now carrying.
These are made in France and meet the very high European Union standards for quality, therapeutic grade essential oils. I was totally thrilled to see that there was an option for buying such good quality essential oils without joining up with a multi-level marketing program. And they are reasonably priced for stocking up your home medicine cabinet.
Mountain Rose organics is another source for high quality essential oils.
In Canada, try New Directions Aromatherapy.
Do I recommend this book?
Is this book a complete waste of your time? Not necessarily, but I think you can get the information that you need without the New Age mystification and brand-name evangelism, from other sources, and be richer for it.
My new book (May 2014) will give you more information on using essential oils at home and I promise not to confuse you with esoteric rhetoric. Sign up for my newsletter to be among the first to get a copy.
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