Book Review – Aromatherapy : A Complete Guide to the Healing Art


Full Title – Aromatherapy : A Complete Guide to the Healing Art (2nd Edition.)

Published – 2008 (First edition 1995).

Authors – Kathi Keville and Mindy Green.

Synopsis –  A comprehensive reference detailing the history and science behind essential oils and herbs, for the purposes of achieving and maintaining balance and wellbeing. A great resource for those wishing to learn more about the use of essential oils, aromatherapy and herbal preparations for health, first aid, stress relief and much more.

About the Authors

Kathi Keville

A herbalist and aromatherapist, Kathi Kelville has written or co-authored 15 books and more than 100 articles on herbal medicine, aromatherapy and related subjects. With over 40 years experience within these fields, Kathi is a well-known T.V. and radio personality. She was a founding member of the American Herbalists Guild (, holds the Directorship for the American Herb Association ( and was granted honorary membership of the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (

Mindy Green

Likewise a herbalist and aromatherapist, Mindy is also a prolific writer, a cosmetic skin specialist and environmental activist with more than 40 years experience in the field. She is considered one of America’s leading experts and is the founder and owner of Green Scentsations, a consultancy specialising in education and product development for botanical and aromatherapies ( Mindy’s numerous associations include being committee chair for the American Herbal Products Association (, advisory board member to the American Botanical Council ( and one of the founding members of the American Herbalist Guild (

About the Book

The book is broken down methodically into four parts. First is the “Theory” section; here we learn about the importance of scent and perfume from ancient times through to the modern era. This section explains how our brain processes information about fragrances and how this can affect our health and wellbeing. We learn about absorption through the skin and find out how our sense of smell is linked to / can influence…the immune system, dieting, sexual attraction, beard growth, self-esteem, insomnia, schizophrenia, personality, behaviour and much, much more.

Essential oil bottles with green fruit and leavesThe second section entitled “Therapy” is full of really useful and interesting information on so many areas. As you would expect from a complete guide, there is a section on safety information and guidelines. As well as details about essential oils and carrier oils, we also find out about herbal preparations. This part includes facts and figures about toxicity, purity and quality, sensitivity / photosensitivity, recommended dilutions and methods of application. There is advice relating to pregnancy, kids and pets, all clearly written and well laid out.

The section I found particularly interesting and useful in the second part of the book was “Therapeutics.” A number of issues related to women’s health and pregnancy are covered. For example, by dealing with poor circulation in the abdomen, several maladies can be eased. One of my favourites is sitz bathing – in a nutshell this involves switching from a tub of hot water to a tub of cold water repeatedly. If you have the facilities – i.e. two tubs and some space- this really can work wonders for stomach cramps and other aches and pains.

There’s so much more good stuff in this section for the ladies including regulating menstrual flow, dealing with menopausal problems, health and wellbeing in pregnancy, assistance during labour and encouraging a steady supply of breast milk. Other illnesses and ailments include inflamed prostate for men, herpes, shingles, sunburn, fungal infections, insect bites and stings and so much more – the list goes on and on.

In addition, this section covers massage, body and hair care as well as facial care, with attention to different skin types for exfoliation, moisturisation and so on. It also includes home uses of essential oils in the kitchen.

Planet earth as seen from spaceIn the third section “Alchemy”, we learn about blending, extraction methods and the chemistry of essential oils. Perhaps most importantly this section raises the environmental issue of sustainability. For example, Rosewood has been listed as endangered since 1992, and what the Brazilian environment agency is doing about it makes for an interesting read. We are also made aware of the poaching and smuggling of plants such as spikenard which is highly sought for Ayurvedic medicine in India.

Also, we learn about what is being done to preserve other plants and medicinal herbs with the help of the World Wildlife Fund and UNESCO to name just two of the organisations involved. 

The final section is “Materia Medica”. Here we learn about Ayurvedic aromatherapy. We are introduced to the chakras (the body’s energy centres) and the dosha (our unique balance of the 5 elements i.e. ether, air, fire, water and earth.) By understanding these areas we can better use aromatherapy to improve our health, wellbeing and balance.

This final chapter also includes essential oil listings, and at the back of the book there are some easy to find, quick reference charts as well as useful resources for further reading, learning and general information.

How is this book different from the others?

In this book the use of herbal preparations is covered alongside aromatherapy.

What are the pros?

The approach is scientific but easy to digest – it doesn’t lose you in a haze of medical or scientific jargon. The information is well laid out and well indexed for easy reference.

I really like how the book gives instruction in the use of essential oils for making your own products such as shampoo, lip balm and lotions. I especially liked how to use essential oil for cellulite reduction.

What are the cons?

This is not a straight up recipe book – it does include recipes, but if you are predominantly looking for a blending book, this probably isn’t the one.

I would question whether the expert has much to learn from this book, but even so it’s highly readable and engaging. 


Would I recommend this book?

Most definitely yes for beginners and intermediates. It answers the questions….What is aromatherapy? Where does it come from?, How does it work? plus many, many more. It also has some great recipes for home-made aromatherapy products. A really enjoyable read and one I will go back to time and again – it really does have something for everyone. Click on the banner below for more info…

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