Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
By “theModernHerbal.com-Caryn Windfield”-
Ylang ylang essential oil (pronounced e-lang e-lang) is created from the aromatic, star-shaped flowers of the ylang-ylang tree (Cananga odorata) that grows natively in Malaysia, Indonesia and other lowland countries of east Asia. Today, the tree is also cultivated in Madagascar, where it thrives in the country’s moist, tropical climate and volcanic soil. The ylang-ylang tree does not produce flowers until its fifth year of growth. After this, it produces around 45 pounds of flowers each year for up to 50 years. The quality of ylang ylang essential oil depends on when and how the flowers from which it is made are harvested. High-quality ylang ylang oil has a warm, sweet, flowery and somewhat musky aroma. Flowers harvested when the oil is not at its peak produce a less potent oil.
Like many other oils, ylang ylang essential oils are produced by steam distillation. It takes approximately 50 pounds of flowers to yield 1 pound of essential oil. Unlike most other essential oils, however, ylang ylang oil is produced using a method of steam distillation known as fractional distillation. During the process, oil is extracted from the still in batches at various intervals. The first batch, called extra grade or extra fraction oil, is taken about an hour after distillation begins and produces oil of the highest quality. The remaining batches are known as first (taken after four hours of distillation), second (taken after seven hours), third (after 10 hours) and complete (15 hours). First and second grades are typically used in cosmetics, while third is used to scent soaps and various other skin care products.
History and Folklore
Ylang ylang essential oil is made from the flowers of the ylang ylang tree (Cananga odorata).
Ylang ylang has a long history of use in both the East and the West. In Indonesia, the petals of ylang ylang flowers are scattered over the bed of newlywed couples on their wedding night. In the Philippines, healers have long used ylang ylang in salves to treat insect bites, snake bites, cuts, burns and scrapes. In the Molucca Islands, people use ylang ylang essential oil as a primary ingredient in a hair pomade known as Macassar oil. This oil became so popular in Victorian England that it inspired the creation of the antimacassar, a decorative chair covering that prevented the Macassar oil from staining the upholstery.
The medicinal properties of ylang ylang were first recognized at the beginning of the 20th century by Garnier and Rechler, French chemists conducting research on the island of Reunion. They discovered that the oil made an effective treatment for all types of diseases including malaria, typhus and intestinal infections. The pair also noted the oil’s calming effect on the heart during times of distress. In Oriental medicine, in fact, it is ylang ylang’s calming effect on the heart that accounts for its primary therapeutic action.
Modern Medicinal Uses
In the modern world of natural medicine, primary ylang ylang essential oil uses include treating impotence, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), high blood pressure and rapid heart beat. The oil is very soothing and calming to the system, which may account for its success in treating disorders related to stress, such as insomnia, depression, nervous tension and anxiety. Ylang ylang oil is also a widely used aphrodisiac and sexual stimulant, and many aromatherapists recommend using it in conjunction with other natural remedies for impotence and frigidity.
Ylang ylang essential oil is used as a floral top note in the ever-popular Chanel No. 5 perfume.
Of all the ylang ylang essential oil benefits, the most well-known probably fall into the realm of cosmetics. The oil has long been one of the most prized ingredients in the perfume industry, as its exotic sweetness adds pleasing floral top notes to a variety of otherwise dull compositions. It is blended into the popular Beautiful by Estee Lauder, Poison by Christian Dior, and Escape by Calvin Klein. The oil’s biggest claim to fame, however, is its use a floral top note in one of the best selling perfumes of all time, Chanel No. 5.
Ylang ylang oil is also used in homemade and commercial soaps, shampoos, lotions and face creams. It is especially good for treating dry skin, dry scalp and chapped lips. It is believed to protect the hair and skin from the salt and sun, and it has a reputation for healing and nourishing even the roughest, driest skin. Because the oil is so strong, it is often combined with sandalwood, lemongrass, orange or patchouli essential oil for cosmetic purposes.
Ylang ylang has many positive emotional effects, some of which have been known for hundreds of years. It noticeably calms individuals in distress when inhaled and uplifts the spirit. In aromatherapy, the oil is often indicated for the treatment of depression and stress-related ailments. Ylang ylang essential oil is at once sedative, calming, euphoric and hypotensive. It may help allay panic, induce tranquility and promote relaxation.
Ylang ylang essential oil has a variety of uses.
Because of its strength and sometimes overpowering sweetness, ylang ylang oil should always be diluted before using. If used in too high a concentration, the oil may cause headaches or nausea. Mixed into bath water, carrier oils and cosmetic blends, ylang ylang essential oil works wonderfully, but always use too little as opposed to too much. If necessary, apply a single drop to a cotton ball and inhale to reap the oil’s calming effects. Other suggested uses include:
For use as an aphrodisiac, place 1 to 2 drops of ylang ylang oil on each of several cotton balls and place them in the dresser drawer where you keep your lingerie. Also, try burning candles or incense scented with the oil during one-on-one time with your partner.
For stress and nervous tension, add 5 to 7 drops of ylang ylang essential oil to a bathtub filled with warm water and soak for at least 20 minutes to help promote deep relaxation. You can also use this remedy before bed if you have trouble sleeping or when you’re suffering from menstrual cramps and other PMS symptoms.
For dry scalp, add 1 to 2 drops ylang ylang oil to 1 tsp. olive oil and massage into your scalp at night before bed. If you hair is dry in addition to your scalp, brush the oil through to the ends of your hair with a natural-bristle brush. In the morning, wash and condition your hair as usual. Continued use will reduce dryness, itchiness and flakiness. You may need to wash your hair twice to remove all the residue left behind by the olive oil.
For an exotic perfume, combine 1 to 2 drops of ylang ylang oil with 1 tsp. olive oil or any other light carrier oil, and apply directly to the skin. Wear the perfumed oil on a special night with your partner, or simply as a sweet, floral scent for everyday use.
For treating and preventing colds and the flu, add 2 drops of ylang ylang essential oil to your filled humidifier and run as usual, preferably overnight in the room where you sleep. The oil will help you expel mucous and prevent excessive, painful coughing when you’re suffering from respiratory symptoms.
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