"...a major event in aromatherapy literature"
The International Journal of Aromatherapy
"At last, a clear and systematic distillation
of useful information about a truly comprehensive spectrum of
essential oils and absolutes"
John Steele, American Aromatherapy Association
"Julia has produce the most scholarly and
comprehensive work on aromatherapy that I have read."
Carola Beresford-Cooke, Presenter of Thames TV series Massage
When we peel an orange, walk through
a rose garden or rub a sprig of lavender between our fingers,
we are all aware of the special scent of that plant. But what
exactly is it that we can smell? Generally speaking, it is essential
oils which give spices and herbs their specific scent and flavour,
flowers and fruit their perfume.
The essential oil in the orange peel is not difficult to identify;
it is found in such profusion that it actually squirts out when
we peel it. The minute droplets of oil which are contained in
tiny pockets or glandular cells in the outer peel are very volatile,
that is, they easily evaporate, infusing the air with their characteristic
But not all plants contain essential or volatile
oils in such profusion. The aromatic content in the flowers of
the rose is so very small that it takes one ton of petals to produce
300g of rose oil. It is not fully understood why some plants contain
essential oils and others not. It is clear that the aromatic quality
of the oils plays a role in the attraction or repulsion of certain
insects or animals.
It has also been suggested that they play an important part in
the transpiration and life processes of the plant itself, and
as a protection against disease. They have been described as the
'hormone' or 'life-blood' of a plant, due to their highly concentrated
and essential nature.
Aromatic oils can be found in all the various parts of a plant,
including the seeds, bark, root, leaves, flowers, wood, balsam
and resin. The bitter orange tree, for example, yields orange
oil from the fruit peel, petitgrain from the leaves and twigs,
and neroli oil from the orange blossoms. The clove tree produces
different types of essential oil from its buds, stalks and leaves,whereas
the Scotch pine yields distinct oils from its needles, wood and
The wide range of aromatic materials obtained from natural sources
and the art of their extraction and use has developed slowly over
the course of time, but its origins reach back to the very heart
of the earliest civilizations.
Extract taken from the highly
recommended 'The Encyclopaedia of Essential Oils' by Julie Lawless
published by Element Books Ltd, available to order through Wilde