Ylang ylang (pronounced ‘e-lang e-lang’) is a common essential oil used in perfumery, aromatherapy and as a topical treatment for skin conditions. The extract brings a wealth of health benefits, and its exotic floral scent can be found in some of the world’s most popular fragrances and perfumes, including Chanel No. 5.
Here we discuss the benefits of ylang ylang
Ylang ylang essential oil is derived from Cananga odorata, a tropical tree that’s native to many Asian countries, northeast Australia, Polynesia and Madagascar. The tree produces strongly-scented flowers with large, curved petals, and it’s from these distinctive blooms that ylang ylang is extracted.
Steam distillation is used to extract the essential oil, and there are three recognised grades (one, two and three) depending on when the oil was obtained. Grades one and two of the extract are normally used in perfumery, while grade three is reserved for pure essential oil used in aromatherapy.
Ylang ylang contains organic compounds which make it a potent and highly popular essential oil. High levels of antioxidants and sesquiterpenes (molecules that help with the delivery of oxygen to cells in the body) mean it is among the most well-used extracts in aromatherapy.
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Exotic, deep and floral, the extract has top notes of jasmine and neroli, a fruity facet reminiscent of banana, paired with creamy custard and tangy rubber. Generally, it’s used in feminine beauty products and perfumes, but it can be paired with complementary oils to create a more masculine fragrance – most successfully vetiver and sandalwood.
There are several compounds in ylang ylang which contribute to its rich and distinctive fragrance. Most notable is linalool, a natural alcohol whose pleasant, floral and fresh fragrance is very popular in aromatherapy, and used to attain relaxation and combat feelings of anxiety.
Ylang ylang has a range of historical and modern uses, here are the most notable:
Ylang ylang is favoured by aromatherapists for its broad range of benefits. For centuries, it’s been used as a means of easing symptoms of stress and anxiety. Samoan islanders are known to have used it in their homes, both for relaxation and as a natural aphrodisiac.
The oil is known to reduce symptoms of depression and help build a positive mindset. Some aromatherapists also cite ylang ylang as being one of the best natural extracts for helping people cope with anger and a low mood.
Another recently-discovered benefit of ylang ylang is the extract’s ability to lower high blood pressure. According to a recent study, ylang ylang can prove helpful in lowering blood pressure, treating hypertension and other associated heart problems.
Thanks to its blend of natural organic compounds, ylang ylang is often used for topical application. For centuries, ylang ylang oil has been used to treat inflammatory problems such as arthritis and rheumatism. Particularly in parts of Southeast Asia, where holistic treatments using natural remedies remain very common.
Ylang ylang can also improve skin health. It normalises the secretion of sebum in the skin, and helps with skin complaints including acne whilst diminishing scars and stretch marks. There’s also been some success in using ylang ylang to treat the symptoms of alopecia.
Perfumery and Cosmetics
Thanks to the powerfully-scented petals of the Cananga odorata tree, ylang ylang has been used in perfumery and cosmetics for hundreds of years.
The distinct scent of ylang ylang essential oil lends itself perfectly to floral and oriental fragrances, helping to create a rich and sophisticated heart note. Perhaps one of the best examples of ylang ylang in perfumery is Chanel No. 5, where it is used to form a bridge between the aldehydic top notes and the floral heart of rose and jasmine.
Here are a few interesting facts about ylang ylang that could help you get the most from this unique natural extract:
· Ylang ylang is heralded as one of the best natural extracts for heart health. It is reputed to increase blood flow, heal symptoms of cardiac problems and regulate heartbeat.
· Ylang ylang essential oil is sometimes prescribed to prevent insomnia and cure chronic fatigue syndrome. Therefore, burning an ylang ylang scented candle or placing a reed diffuser in your bedroom can promote healthy sleep.
· Used topically on reflex points throughout the body, studies reveal that ylang ylang can help prevent cell damage. So it’s often prescribed to people suffering from diabetes.
· The name ylang ylang stems from the Tagalog language of Austronesia, and literally means ‘flower of flowers’. This may be due to the large, heavily scented blooms which the trees produce in the warmer months.
· A proven aphrodisiac. Ylang ylang petals are scattered on the beds of Indonesian newlyweds on their wedding night as a token of love and affection.
· In rare cases, exposure to ylang ylang can cause headaches if the quantity of oil is too high or used neat. This is due to the oil’s powerful, floral scent.
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