Ylang ylang is a yellow star-shaped flower that grows on the Cananga odorata tree. This tropical species is native to countries surrounding the Indian Ocean, such as India, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and parts of Australia. The aroma of ylang-ylang is intoxicating, fruity and floral.
Ylang ylang flowers are used to create a variety of essential oils via steam distillation. These oils vary in scent intensity.
Ylang Ylang Extra Essential Oil is the most potent essential oil extracted from the ylang ylang flower. This oil is often used as the top note of perfumes, such as Chanel No. 5.
Less potent essential oils are used as middle to base notes in perfumes and are used in the manufacture of products such as colognes, lotions, food flavorings and soaps. The most subtle form of ylang ylang is often called kanaan.
Research has found that ylang ylang can:
- Boost mood
- reduce depression
- relieve anxiety
- Lower blood pressure
- lower heart rate
- Stimulates oil production in skin and scalp
- Repels flying insects and kills insect larvae
Some people use ylang ylang as an aphrodisiac and sexual stimulation, although its benefits in this area are mainly anecdotal.
Ylang ylang also has a history of being used as a traditional herbal medicine to treat the following conditions:
- upset stomach
Benefits of Ylang Ylang
Ylang ylang has some proven benefits, as well as uses suggested by some anecdotal evidence. For example:
- One small study found that ylang-ylang can reduce anxiety and increase self-esteem when applied to the skin or inhaled. Ylang ylang's beneficial effects on mood have been replicated in other studies and also supported by anecdotal evidence.
- Another study found that inhaled ylang-ylang has sedative effects and significantly reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate in healthy men.
- Ylang ylang contains linalool, a compound with antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to be effective in reducing Candida albicans, a fungal infection.
- In many parts of the world, ylang ylang flowers are pounded into a paste and used as an inhalant to treat asthma.
- Dried ylang-ylang flowers are used in Asian countries to treat symptoms of malaria.
- Ylang ylang is used as a folk remedy to increase sexual desire and reduce sexual anxiety.
Ylang ylang side effects
Ylang ylang contains several allergens, such as isoeugenol. It is associated with contact dermatitis and may cause skin irritation when used topically.
As with any essential oil, do not apply full-strength Ylang Ylang essential oil to your skin. Ylang ylang should be mixed with a carrier oil and patch tested before being used extensively on the body, face, or scalp.
Ylang ylang is poisonous to dogs and cats. Do not apply ylang-ylang to your pet's skin, paws, or fur, and be sure not to use it where your pet may lick or inhale it.
Ylang ylang is currently considered safe for use as a food additive. However, if you are allergic to its ingredients, it is best to avoid it entirely.
Ylang ylang essential oil forms
Ylang ylang can be purchased as an essential oil. In some cases, marking may be based on ranking during the distillation process:
- Ylang ylang additionally produces the strongest scent, but dissipates quickly.
- Ylang ylang essential oils numbered 1, 2, or 3 have a weaker scent, but are more intense and longer-lasting. Kanan oil (Ylang ylang #3) has the most subtle fragrance.
- Ylang Ylang Complete Essential Oil contains all four fragrance levels, from Extra to Level 3.
Ylang ylang is also used as an ingredient in many commercial skin and hair products as well as scented candles, massage oils, perfumes and colognes.
How to use ylang ylang
Ylang ylang can be mixed with carrier oils and used in dry skin care and massage. It can also be rubbed on the scalp to promote oil secretion and reduce dryness. Since ylang ylang can be irritating to some people, be sure to patch test it first and wait 24 hours before using it.
- Be sure to dilute it. To use topically, add one drop of essential oil per teaspoon of carrier oil.
- Store it properly. Store in an opaque glass container in a cool place.
- Use and monitor its quality. Ylang ylang has a long shelf life, so you can make several batches to store for a year or more. However, never use oil that is expired or has a rancid smell.
- Use with water in an oil diffuser. Ylang ylang can also be inhaled as aromatherapy by using it in a room diffuser.
Ylang-ylang has a fruity and sweet aroma and is a popular ingredient in many perfumes and cosmetics.
Scientific research has proven that ylang-ylang has a variety of benefits, such as reducing anxiety and lowering blood pressure in some people. Anecdotal evidence suggests that its sedative effects may also help relax and treat conditions such as headaches.
Ylang ylang contains a variety of allergens and should be used with caution on the skin.