The Bollocks Page: Books

9. "The Healing Power of Essential Oils" by Rodolphe Balz translated from the German edn. "Les huilles essentielles" Lotus Press USA 1996

This book is well planned & laid out, but in my value judgment it is severely let down by the authors' poor grasp of modern chemistry and microbiology. There is also a tendency interpret scientific fact from an esoteric viewpoint, which is not acceptable. It is also unclear at times which is in operation: a genuine scientific misunderstanding by the author, or a distortion of mis-translation.

p27: On essential oils: One of their physical properties is called diathermy, which means that the energy potential of an essential oil in gaseous form is increased by light passing through it since the oil retains the calorific energy of the light."
Comment: even if this is true or partly true, it has little relevance to Aromatherapy...

p34 "Measurement with Vincents Bio-electrometer" from Louis Claude Vincent's work "...Good quality essential oils have a pH of about 5 (maximum 5.8) and are therefore slightly acidic.
Comment: pH is a measure of the log to the base 10 of the reciprocal of the hydrogen ion concentration. It is a meaningless figure in non-aqueous liquid phases such as pure essential oils, as the hydrogen ion concentration is immeasurable under these conditions. Under a highly specific procedure, a co-solvent can be added to the oil to make it water miscible, and the amount of acidic substances in the oil can be estimated by titrimetric procedures. Results are usually expressed in volumetric amounts of a given strength of a specified alkali (such as potassium hydroxide) required to neutralise a unit amount of essential oil. Alternatively the acidic substances can be estimated by alternative procedures, such as alkaline extraction, followed by subsequent isolation and quantitation by gas-chromatography etc.

p49 Under Sesquiterpene, diterpenes, triterpenes. Plants rich in these components....cloves...origanum(!).
Comment: OK clove oils have a -caryophyllene content, but then we have lower down the page under special remarks: "Transcutaneous application is an interesting method of application. 20% essential oil is mixed with plant oil and massaged into the skin along the spine". - This is a dangerous recommendation, as clove and origanum oils contain high amounts of phenols, which can have a severely irritating or caustic action on the skin.

p50. "Aromatic alcohols"...we have under example of terpenes: terpineol, citronellol, thuja oil, cedrol. Although this is correct in one sense, it is also confusing and badly set out. A better heading would have been "Alcohols". It would have been nicer to clearly distinguish aliphatic, aromatic, monoterpinic (cyclic, acyclic etc), sesquiterpinic, diterpinic alcohols.

p51. "Terpene esters and Terpeneless Esters." ...took me a while to figure out what a terpeneless ester is...I guess aliphatic, aromatic esters etc. would be a better grouping. Then we have the statement "They are electro-negative, and create positively-charged currents". I am not quite sure which reality this happens in. I don't think it happens in mine!

p51. "Aromatic and Terpene Aldehydes." List erroneously includes citronellol and myrtenol which are alcohols.

p52 Aromatic ketones.
"An athylene compound binds oxygen to carbon. There are several types of ketones: monotones and diketones, cyclic and acrylic ketones". Several typos here, I think the author meant to say:
A double bond binds oxygen to carbon. There are several types of ketones: mono- and di-ketones, cyclic and acylic ketones
p52 "Aromatic, alpiphatic acids containing terpenes". This is non-sensical, should be "Aromatic and terpenic compounds containing a carboxylic acid" grouping.

p53. "Sesquiterpene lactones." Interestingly there is no mention of sensitization effects in the whole book. It should be noted in this section at least.

There are many more mistakes, misprints and references to the science of times gone by. A great pity that Balz didn't get his work checked over by a scientist, because in other respects, this is an interesting book.

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