An Indochina native, the bitter orange produces the blossoms used for an essential oil known to aromatherapists and perfumers as neroli. The trees are grown commercially in France, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt and are quite different from the sweet orange that produces orange oil. One story is that neroli was named after a sixteenth century princess from Nerola, Italy, who loved the orange blossom scent.

This scent, which is considered intensely female, became a symbol of purity, chastity, and eternal love. Neroli was thought to influence creativity in other ways, especially in music and writing. Modern aromatherapists regard neroli more as a treatment for depression. The blossoms may be distilled, made into a concrete by enfleurage, or extracted with solvents to create an absolute. A by-product of distillation, “orange flower water,” is used in cooking and as a skin toner.

Neroli is the main ingredient of the original eau de cologne, which was used both as a body fragrance and as a skin toner. Neroli was also a favorite of Marie Antoinette as well as Napoleon, who was said to go through several bottles a day as an aftershave. Distilling the leaves and stems of the bitter orange produces an essential oil called petitgrain that is frequently used in men’s cologne today and often adulterates the far more expensive neroli.

Principal constituents of neroli: Nerol, nerolidol, geraniol, jasmone, dipentene, terpineol, farnesol, indol, l-camphene, pinene, acetic esters, and more

Scent of neroli: The scent is bittersweet, floral, spicy, distinctive, and often unpleasantly strong until diluted.

Therapeutic properties of neroli: Sedative; relieves muscle spasms and cramping, stimulates circulation

Uses for neroli: Neroli’s favored use is for circulation problems, especially hemorrhoids and high blood pressure. It makes a wonderfully fragrant and effective cosmetic for mature, dry, and sensitive skin and is also one of the best essential oils to add to a vaginal cream during menopause. It reputedly regenerates skin cells and has antiaging properties. For the ultimate luxury, add it to your bath to ease tension from PMS, menopause, or life in general.

To learn more about Aromatherapy and other alternative medicines, see:

  • Aromatherapy: Learn about aromatherapy, how it works, what part essential oils play, and how to use aromatherapy.
  • Essential Oils Profiles: We have collected profiles of dozens of plants that are used to produce essential oils. On these pages, you will learn the properties and preparations for the most popular essential oils.
  • How to Treat Common Conditions With Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy can be used to treat a number of conditions, from asthma to depression to skin problems. Here you will learn how to treat some common medical problems with aromatherapy.
  • Home Remedies: We have gathered over a hundred safe, time-tested home remedies for treating a wide variety of medical complaints yourself.
  • Herbal Remedies: Herbal remedies and aromatherapy can be very similar, and they stem from similar historic roots. On this page, you will find all of our herb profiles and instructions for treating medical problems with herbal remedies.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kathi Keville is director of the American Herb Association and editor of the American Herb Association Quarterly newsletter. A writer, photographer, consultant, and teacher specializing in aromatherapy and herbs for over 25 years, she has written several books, including Aromatherapy: The Complete Guide to the Healing Art and Pocket Guide to Aromatherapy, and has written over 150 articles for such magazines as New Age Journal, The Herb Companion, and New Herbal Remedies.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.