Aromatherapy: Ylang Ylang

Latin Name: Cananga odorat; variety genuine

Varieties: Cananga odorata macrophyll; a produces oil of inferior quality and harsher scent.

Family: Annonaceae (custard apple family)

Countries of Origin: Native to Southeast Asia; cultivated commercially in Comoros, Madagascar and Reunion.

Characteristics: This pale yellow oil carries an intoxicating scent that is sweet, floral and as exotic as the islands of its origin. Ylang-ylang blends well with most essential oils, but is especially complementary to citrus scents like lemon and orange, as well as cedarwood, clary sage, geranium, palmarosa, jasmine, sandalwood, rose and patchouli.

Notes of Interest: The flowers of the tall evergreen tree range from white to pink to yellowish green, but experts believe the yellow flowers produce the richest oil. Blossoms are picked at dawn in either summer or autumn when their oils are most abundant. Flowers are steam distilled, but because they pass through several distillations, the oil produced from the first, called "extra," is of the finest quality. In Eastern cultures, Muslim women once scented harems with the oil, and in Indonesia, the blossoms were strewn over the beds of newlyweds as an aphrodisiac. For hundreds of years, women in the tropics have tended to their hair and skin with a beautifying mixture of ylang-ylang and coconut oil.

Beauty Benefits: The essential oil balances complexions by reducing sebum production, while its antibacterial elements help keep blemishes under control. As a hair tonic, ylang-ylang is said to stimulate growth and smooth split ends.

Emotional Effects: Calming, comforting and uplifting, the essence is used to relieve depression, anxiety and stress. It is also considered a potent aphrodisiac and is thought to foster feelings of love and well-being.

Medicinal Uses: The soothing aroma of ylang-ylang can ease the symptoms of PMS, relax muscle tension, lower blood pressure and relieve insomnia. Applied to the skin, the oil quiets irritation from eczema or bug bites and fights infection.

Chemistry: The most prominent chemical compounds in ylang-ylang have been identified as linalool, geraniol, and eugenol, elements that endow the essential oil with an ability to fight bacteria and relax the nervous system.

Ylang Home Spa

Balancing Face Mask: Blend two drops lemon, one drop ylang-ylang, one drop geranium and two teaspoons plain yogurt. Smooth over skin, let sit for a few minutes, and rinse.

  •     Ready-made: Aromatherapy Associates Balance Deep Cleanse Face Mask.

Romance Bath: Mix two drops ylang-ylang, two drops clary sage and three drops geranium in 21.2 teaspoons of grapeseed oil. Swirl into a warm bath and soak for 10 to 20 minutes.

  •     Ready-made: Naturopathica Ylang-Ylang Calming Bath Oil.

Insomnia Infuser: Sprinkle a few drops each of ylang-ylang, lavender and Roman chamomile onto the sheets before you settle in for the night.

  •     Ready-made: Primavera Pure Desire Airspray.

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