You read the the main text to learn the basic principles. Whenever you feel saturated by the classic concepts you switch to the text in the side column for a contemporary perspective, or an anecdote or an atmospheric illustration, expressing the mood of the current topic. The joyful mix of these elements ensures that the study process remains dynamic and entertaining.
The revised 4th Edition is, in our humble opinion, the first study text in over two decades that presents a truly updated and perspective of aromatherapy, including many new elements not taught before. many of the new elements of the course reflect the new and stunning global reach aromatherapy has acquired.
Conventional courses are content to teach the chemistry of essential oils as the scientific reasoning behind essential oil efficacy. In contrast the 4th Edition also acknowledges the importance of understanding the chemical composition of essential oils, but at the same time transcends it by recognising the limits of a “chemistry only” perspective. The 4th Edition introduces the idea that other narratives such as biology or Traditional Chinese Medicine often offer meaningful explanations of essential oil healing powers which conventional pharmacology (and thereby chemistry) fail to recognise.
With so many individuals globally using essential oils liberally (and sometimes too liberally) the fear based approaches from 30 years ago are no longer meaningful.
It appears logical that so many individuals worldwide gravitate to essential oils because they obviously reap substantial benefits, even if they do not have the most expert knowledge about essential oils.
Consequently the 4th Edition leaves the the old style which was based mostly on an
agglomeration of prohibitions (i.e. Clove oil should not be used at all) behind and presents the facts which indicate that a more casual use of essential oils delivers substantial health benefits.
The 4th Edition introduces the idea that essential oils have many specific, but also many highly important non specific effects. Many of the non-specific effects are those which bring about the most important benefits such as improved immune response, prevention of many infectious or chronic diseases and delayed ageing.
With its new perspectives the 4th Edition provides the blue print for a further development of aromatherapy as we move towards the third decade of the new millennium.
WHAT IS NEW IN THE 4TH EDITION
The 4th Edition presents a number of innovative storylines that weave new content into the existing fabric of scientific aromatherapy. The first storyline we would like to call EXPANDING THE SCIENTIFIC FOUNDATIONS or integrating the perspective of BIOLOGY into the scientific foundation of aromatherapy.
EXPANDING THE SCIENTIFIC FOUNDATIONS
Chemistry, or chemistry based conventional pharmacology alone, are no longer sufficient to provide a scientific or theoretical foundation that could explain all the observable healing properties of aromatherapy. Molecular, cellular and evolutionary biology have made major contributions to our understanding of the healing powers of essential oils.
It is the inherent limitation of the reductionist approach of chemistry and conventional pharmacology that they can only deal with one substance at a time.
This is the point of departure for the 4th Edition. It is still based on the chemistry of essential oils, but it is now complemented by the perspective of biology. While the “chemistry only” perspective limits the perception of the activity of an essential oil to the activity of a characteristic or active component, biology provides a scientific process to understand the properties of complex mixtures where many aromatic components are present. The qualities of complex mixtures such as essential oils can transcend those of one or a few active ingredients. Healing qualities not previously understood are revealed by this integrated approach.
Chemistry (conventional pharmacology ) explains one set of properties. but it fails to understand others. biology has tools to understand those properties (give examples) which chemistry cannot.
NEW TOPIC BIOLOGY:
THE ORIGIN OF PHYSIOLOGICAL ACTIVITY IN ESSENTIAL OILS
Current aromatherapy texts teach that the basic qualities of essential oil components arise from different classes of chemical compounds, for instance aldehydes are sedative and esters calming and spasmolytic.
Biology allows a much deeper understanding of these properties. It explains how plant components acquired their activity. Consequently the 4th Edition explores the fundamentals of plant evolution, especially of green leafy (Angiosperm) plants. Approximately a hundred million years ago Angiosperms refined the existing strategy of producing defensive molecules, favouring those which modify molecular targets inside attacking bacteria or virus particles. The 4th Edition explores how ultimately essential oil components were selected that had multiple beneficial properties.
The 4th Edition will also examine how one of the main concepts of todays biology, that of Emergent Properties applies to essential oils. How it can be that authentic and complete essential oils can have properties that are not found in any of its constituents.
NEW TOPIC - THE VALUE OF TRADITION
Traditional Healing systems often are aware of healing properties which cannot be explained by conventional pharmacology. As a consequence much of the knowledge of prior generations has been relegated to the dustbin of superstition, ostensibly for lack of scientific evidence. But ignoring traditional knowledge just because it does not fit into a narrow definition that claims that only reductionism is true science does not seem to be truly scientific. Instead 4th Edition probes the many aspects we can learn - and enjoy - from traditional healing knowledge.
NEW TOPIC - GOING GLOBAL and the EAST
When aromatherapy books first came out there was a need to sort, arrange or classify essential oils. Practically all authors arranged oils alphabetically. Niaouli came after Melissa, but before Pine. This insinuated that all oils are somehow equal and that their only distinction lies in their chemical composition. The oils covered were generally the green leafy European aromatics with the addition of some exotic oils like Clove, Niaouli or Cajeput that came to the Old World by way of colonialism. Instead of making Clove and Niaouli pseudo European by hiding them alphabetically among the bulk of Western aromatics the 4th Edition proposes a fresh look at oils from the Eastern Hemisphere. The latter very often arise from rhizomes and resins and unlike many Western aromatics are rich in sesquiteprenes and feature a more yin character. At the very end of Part VI the 4th Edition even ventures into some philosophical speculation about the connections between humans, aromatics and climate.
NEW TOPIC: AUTHENTICITY AND QUALITY in a GLOBAL AROMATHERAPY
Essential Oil quality had different definitions in the past. When essential oils were industrial raw materials, quality was defined by the purchasing agents of the major buyers. When the pioneers of aromatherapy were asking for wholly unadulterated essential oils, the absence of adulterants was considered high quality. As the multi-level aromatherapy companies succeeded in making aromatherapy a household word for large numbers of people, unimaginable 20 years ago the quality narrative again shifted. The 4th Edition examines the different notions of essential oil quality and attempts to formulate contemporary guidelines for what authenticity and quality should mean for aromatherapy as a natural healing modality.
NEW TOPICS - CONTEMPORARY FORMULATIONS
Contemporary Formulations integrate the results of molecular and cellular biology about the interaction of plant aromatics with molecular targets inside the cell to help prevent chronic inflammation and carcinogenesis.
NEW TOPIC - FUTURE DYNAMICS
There are many exciting developments in aromatherapy almost at any given time. The data from molecular and cellular biology attract the most attention, as they address contemporary issues such as cancer, chronic inflammation or metabolic conditions such as diabetes and mechanisms for detoxification!
There are many scientific developments which point to anti-tumor properties of essential oils or their components. Noetheless, there are, at this time, NO protocols that would reasonably suggest treatments for cancer with essential oils. However, exploring the many surprising results in molecular biology about the anti-tumor properties of essential oils in combination with experience reports from the aromatherapy community may even lay the groundwork for a gradual formulation of a “Grand Strategy” by which essential oils may become important players in the prevention and treatment of todays most serious diseases.
EXPANDING THE SCOPE: INTEGRATING OILS FROM THE EAST
An essential element of the new perspective is adding Eastern, sesquiterpene rich oils of a more yin character to the familiar Western oils, which are rich in mono terpenes and often of a more yang character. This expands aromatherapy from its original Eurocentric perspective to a truly global modality.