The Fragrant Mind: Aromatherapy for Personality, Mind, Mood, and Emotion by Valerie Ann Worwood is one of the most well-written and well-rounded texts on the subject that I have ever seen. Worwood has been an aromatherapist for over twenty years and is quite a figure in her field: this is the sort of lady presidents and prime ministers call on when those big red buttons are causing anxiety attacks. Though she has written several books on essential oils and their uses in every imaginable context, this one, I think, is most useful to massage practitioners because it addresses the effect of essential oils on the mind, which in turn, affects the body. And the physical pains that we often deal with in massage are often inextricable from clients’ mental and emotional states.
I became more than a little interested in aromatherapy for massage when I first gave a lavender massage for a tension headache, and it not only helped the client, it lightened my whole day. Then I began to wonder about my own favorite scents, even the smell of things that I consider utilitarian, like Tiger Balm. Why do I love Tiger Balm? After reading The Fragrant Mind, I wonder if it’s the smell of clove, historically connected to soothing pain. In any case, this book is proving to be one of the best purchases I have ever made. It is scientific and thorough, but also readable and practical.* I can see using it as a reference text in both my career and personal life for decades to come.
Like many texts on essentials oils, The Fragrant Mind gives notes on preparing and creating oils, lotions, perfumes, etc. and then formulas for their use in specific negative conditions (addiction, depression, panic attacks). However, it also includes: (1) formulas for creating positive states (contentment, joy, focus); (2) a personality typing of each major essential oil; and (3) the division of people into nine different personality types within the context of essential oils (florals, fruities, herbies, leafies, resinies, rooties, seedies, spicies, woodies).
Determining my own personality type was a bit difficult. After some hours of thinking, I narrowed it down to three of the types, then handed the book to my boyfriend. It took him two minutes to announce “You’re a fruitie.” “How did you decide?” I asked. “Easy,” he said. “It was the only one of the three that said “dislikes authority.” Hmmmm. Point made. Though I could argue that I don’t dislike authority, what I dislike is authority dosed with stupidity. On the other hand, maybe I just need to look up that formula for peacefulness One way or another, it won’t be wasted, either at home or during massage sessions.
*Online retailers such as Amazon allow you to browse through this book’s table of contents before you buy it and make it easy for you to purchase a good used copy, as I did.