Multidimensional Aromatherapy by Marlaina Donato – Book Review
Multidimensional Aromatherapy is a new book out written by Marlaina Donato, Clinical Aromatherapist and Certified Massage Therapist. She wrote this book to demonstrate how aromatherapy can be used by professionals and beginners alike, discussing important “square one” basics like safety, materia medica, how to properly dilute, why she doesn’t suggest internal use, contraindications and blending techniques.
I really appreciate her focus on providing good, relevant information on using essential oils for body, mind and spirit well being, while cutting out dogmatic essential oil beliefs held by some. She discusses what essential oils are, how they work in the body, and how to incorporate aromatherapy into practical, clinical, cosmetic, cleaning, and vibrational methodologies of healing. I also appreciate the abundant and easy to access information about contraindications of each oil.
One of my favorite parts about this book though, are the recipes. Not only does Marlaina include clinical applications for things like pain relief, she also includes spiritual and emotional uses of oils. I personally use oils in my sacred space mist. Using a few drops of essential oil adds such a fantastic aroma to the spray that is often muted when just making a spray with the whole herb and witch hazel. She has a fun list of space-clearing herbs, along with several pages of space-clearing room spray recipes.
On the less metaphysical side, she has some fantastic recipes for natural potpourris which would make fantastic holiday gifts. I think my favorite is her Patio Herbs Potpourri Blend.
Patio Herbs Potpourri Blend
- Gather wild leaves, mosses, barks, flowers, twigs, lichen, berries etc. and dry them well. I used about two cups of dried sage, rosemary, thyme, chamomile, lavender, and marjoram from the garden.
Add these essential oils to your dried plant matter:
- 1 drop rosemary
- 2 drops roman chamomile
- 1 drop basil
- 1 drop lavender (I used 2)
- 1 drop sweet marjoram
- 1 drop thyme
- 1 drop spearmint
- 1 drop sage or clary sage (I did one of each)
Stir the herbs with the essential oils, blend well and package in a nice cotton or mesh bag and enjoy!
For those of you who love seasonal themed aromatherapy blends, she has summer, winter, spring and fall blends that you can enjoy any time of year.
Now for the clinical side of things.
In her book, Marlania has a large quantity of essential oil profiles with both common and less common essential oils. This helped me personally expand my aromatherapy horizons, and got me thinking about different aromatic uses for the herbs I use in my daily tea blends. As an herbalist, I don’t use essential oils as a first line of defense, but as an adjunct therapy. I do work with aromatic herbs regularly, and see the aromatic herbs in a hot tea as aromatherapy on a more simple level.
When working with sage (Salvia off.) for example, I often use it as a cooling, drying herb that is used for either warding off hot flashes and balancing the pre-menopausal woman, or to cool and dry the body. Inhaling the smell from the tea, and drinking it with honey is fantastic at opening the lungs and drying damp sinus conditions. When reading her profile on sage, I see that the essential oil is used for mental and physical fatigue, and works primarily on the nervous and respiratory systems. She has synergistic aromas for sage listed, saying it would work will with Texas cedar and juniper berry. I have to agree since this is half of my personal smudge spray! She includes chakra correspondence, cosmetic use (in this case there is none), parts used, and cautions – sage essential oil is not for dermal use and can be toxic. It should not be used around individuals with epilepsy or seizure disorders and should not be used around pregnant women. She also includes the information that clary sage is a safer option for dermal use.
Now I am looking at the sandalwood profile. Pesonally, I am concerned about essential oils made from plants that are endangered, threatened, or that take an exceptionally long time to grow, process and be ready for production. I am glad she includes information about these less sustainable plants, and offers more sustainable options.
This is her “Tip” about Sandalwood essential oil production:
“Please note that sandalwood trees must live a long time before their heartwood can be used and their oil extracted/distilled. Due to commercial exploitation, these trees are now endangered. With environmental awareness, some aromatherapists chose not to use Indian sandalwood oil at all; yet some use it sparingly because many believe that its properties cannot be fully substituted. There are other wonderful types of sandalwood available including: Australian Sandalwood (Santalum Spicatum), New Caledonia Sandalwood (Tantalum astrocaledonium, and Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood (Tantalum panicultaum)…”
When working with something that takes such a huge quantity of plant material to make such a small amount of oil, we need to be constantly vigilant about what oils we use, how they were harvested, if they are endangered or not, and the environmental impact the plants that were grown to make the oil might have made in the area they were grown in. I appreciate that she has this information directly in the plant profile so we, the reader, can easily find it.
Now, we have read the plant profile and the uses. She then leads into the chapter “Synergistic Dermal Formulas for Physical Wellbeing” where she includes recipes developed over her 20 years of experience as a clinical aromatherapist, for anything from boosting immunity, hormone balance, better sleep, improved circulation, pain and stress reduction, and chronic conditions. These recipes are all bare bones and quite simple. She again sticks to her promise to keep things as simple as possible. Here is an example:
Osteoarthritis Pain Blend by Marlaina Donato – Multidimensional Aromatherapy
- 2 drops juniper berry
- 2 drops lemon eucalyptus
- *1 drop sweet birch or wintergreen
Dilute in 1 teaspoon of carrier oil or lotion and apply to affected area up to 2x a day with a few hours between applications. *Do not use more than 3 times a week due to the aspirin-like properties of sweet birch or wintergreen essential oil. Sweet birch nd wintergreen can be substituted with balsam fir, spearmint, or pine needle.
Simple, straight forward, and to the point.
Now, a bit of nit-pickyness on my part.
I really enjoyed this book and see myself flipping to it often to look for plant profiles and blends. As a mother and someone who works with kids a lot, I wish there were a little note by the child safe recipes and dilution ratios more readily available for children. She does have some notes about essential oils that aren’t safe with children in the profiles, but I would love it if there were a quick safety note on each recipe… because I am busy and don’t always have the time to flip back to check safety on every ingredient. Thankfully the ingredients are generally simple so thank you for that Marlaina! This is not a book about children, or written with moms in mind, but instead a general reference book, so if you chose to use aromatherapy with kids, Robert Tisserlands book Essential Oil Safety is a great resource. Another resource easily available online is this post about Essential Oils and Children by Lea Harris, CA.
Also, in her introduction, she says things like “studies have shown” without citations. Now, many of these studies I have read or heard of. I have absolutely no doubt she has done her research for this book BUT I really very much wish there was a citation whenever she says “studies show” or something along those lines, because I am a nerd and like to read the studies. I assume, omitting this information is a part of her goal to leave out the chaff, the extra non-vital information, to make the information more easily read and readily available to the readers, and that is her prerogative, but the nerd and publisher in me wants the studies!
Now that I got my OCD issues out of the way (and hey, there is a blend for obsessive behavior in the book!), I have to say this really is a fantastic reference and I am glad to have it in my library. I know it will be referred to again and again, and I’ll use many of the recipes both personally and professionally. Its completely worth the cost of the book, only $21.95 on Amazon, which I think is a fantastic deal. You can get your copy from Amazon here, on her website, and hop on over to her Facebook page and say “Hi”.
We will also be giving away a copy of this book in September as a part of our two year anniversary extravaganza! Keep an eye out for that.