Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: "The Aromatherapy Course"

Over the holidays, I picked up the book "The Aromatherapy Course" and began a quest in self-study. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, as I have not taken a self-study course before. Let me break it down for you - who would enjoy this book, what I did and didn't like and where to get it. 

What: The Aromatherapy Course

Who: This was written by Jessie Hawkins, the founder of Vintage Remedies. Unfortunately, there is no biography information available in the book. I was, however, able to find it on their website HERE.

Where to Buy: You can purchase the course/book on the Vintage Remedies website located HERE. They also recommend purchasing a companion book as an accompaniment to the course. It is titled, "Handbook of Vintage Remedies", and is available HERE or on Amazon HERE (side note: if you have Amazon Prime, you can borrow it for free). 

About the Course/Book: This is an introduction to aromatherapy with lessons, study guides, worksheets with projects to complete, and self-testing with an answer key. There is also a section covering essential oil profiles and recipes. 

How long did it take? I completed the course in three days with around three hours per day dedicated to it. It may take you longer if you complete all the projects fully. 

Section One: Covers basic health and herbal home use. There are some helpful charts for documenting illness and family health history. You may want to skim this section or head right to section two.

Section Two: Now we jump into aromatherapy, which is why we're all here, right?! I learned about the history of aromatherapy, modern aromatherapy, production and quality testing. I learned a fair amount in this section. The author did an outstanding job explaining complex things in a way that I was able to understand.

Section Three: Here we look at the characteristics of essential oils, medical classifications, phytochemistry and safety.  This section is full of the following information: a chapter of definitions, an easy to understand explanation of the chemistry of essential oils (I finally understood!), and important safety information. 

Section Four: Let's put what we've learned into practice - this section looks at diffusion, topical application and synergy. There is also an entire chapter with detailed how-to's for making the basics, like lotion and bath salts.  

Section Five: We are given a profile of 19 different essential oils with several recipes for each one. 

Section Six: This is a list of the author's essential oil blends that she has created and uses for her family. 

What I liked: I really appreciated the self-testing and projects to complete. I find that I learn better when I'm taking notes to prep for a mini test and I always find the hands-on approach to be beneficial. My favorite parts were 1) section three because I learned about top, middle and base notes, phenylpropenes, terpenes, isoprenes and terpenoids, it was written in a way I was able to easily understand and 2) section five because I love profiles on essential oils and recipes, such as a favorite essential oil of mine, lavender and an unknown to me may chang (litsea).  

What I didn't like: Although I was able to get the biography information of the author on the website, I feel like this should be included in the book. Additionally, there is no reference page and/or bibliography. This always concerns me because I feel that there should be documentation as to where the author has obtained his/her information and I always want to know where the information came from. I emailed Vintage Remedies regarding reference information and was told: "The information came primarily from Jessie’s studies, so there are numerous references." I asked for additional information and am awaiting a reply. 

Who should take this course: This course would be very beneficial to someone starting out in aromatherapy. It is also helpful for someone like me, who has been using essential oils for awhile but is looking for ways to be safer. Plus, the book is educational and you are able to learn the history and science of aromatherapy. If you are experienced with essential oils, you may find this book to be too simple and filled with information you already know. You should always be willing to question what you read and not take everything as fact without verifying it from a second source.

Check back next week for a few recipes from the course. Now available HERE.

Update: I received a second response to my inquiry about reference information in the course. Citations are not presented in the beginning course because it is considered "general knowledge". Citations are given in advanced courses.

Source: Hawkins, Jessie (2013). The Aromatherapy Course. Franklin, TN: Thistle Publications.