Originating in the Philippines, ylang ylang means “flower of flowers” or “fragrance of all fragrances.” This fragrance is traditionally used in aromatherapy to sharpen the senses and to temper depression, fear, anger, and jealousy. For these reasons, and also because of its reputation as an aphrodisiac, the flowers are spread on the beds of the newly married in Indonesia.

Modern aromatherapists find the scent strongly sedating, easily sending the most reluctant sleeper off to dreamland. Science, on the other hand, regards ylang ylang essential oil more as a mental stimulant. Can it be both? Quite possibly it stimulates people’ s minds in one way while relaxing them in another.

Ylang ylang is also widely used as a cosmetic when mixed with coconut oil. People throughout the tropics use it to protect their hair from salt water damage. Today, as one of the most abundant and least expensive of the true floral-smelling essential oils, it is a favorite in perfumes and cosmetics and is even added to some beverages and desserts. The essential oil varies greatly due to climatic and botanical differences. As a result, there are several commercial grades with distinct scents.

Principal constituents of ylang ylang: Linalol, geraniol, eugenol, safrol, ylangol, linalyl benzoate, linalyl acetate, alpha pinene, benzoic acid, cadinene, caryophylelene, creosol, isoeugenol

Scent of ylang ylang: The fragrance is intensely sweet, heady, floral, and slightly spicy, with a narcissus or bananalike overtone.

Therapeutic properties of ylang ylang: Antidepressant; stimulates circulation, relieves muscle spasms, lowers blood pressure, relaxes nerves

Uses for ylang ylang: Of all the essential oils, ylang ylang is one of the best at relaxing the mind and the body. Simply sniffing it can slightly lower blood pressure, although taking a bath with the oil or using it in a massage oil greatly enhances the relaxation experience. It can be helpful in cases of stress, shock, or anxiety. When used as a hair tonic, it balances oil production. Add about 6 drops to every ounce of hair conditioner.

Warnings about ylang ylang: High concentrations of ylang ylang can produce headaches or nausea. Some people are more susceptible than others to this effect and will generally react immediately.

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.