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Ylang Ylang Essential Oil's Uses, Benefits, and Everything You Need to Know

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to walk under an ylang ylang tree in full bloom, you’ll understand just how magical this flower really is. Sure, it may not look as picture-worthy as cherry trees at springtime—it looks wild and otherworldly, like something you’d find in an enchanted forest. What kind of petals are those, all slender and tendril-like? And why on earth are some of them green? The people who came up with its name must have had those exact same thoughts running through their heads. “Ylang ylang” is popularly believed to mean “flower of flowers,” and while it’s definitely catchy and highly appropriate as a nickname, it’s actually wrong. In fact, it doesn’t even count as a mistranslation, having been the result of a rough guess.

“Ilang” is an archaic word from the Tagalog language that means “wilderness.” Before they were cultivated for commercial purposes, the wilderness was exactly where the flowering ylang ylang trees were most commonly found. In the olden days, people likely stumbled upon them after being drawn from hundreds of meters away by their powerful and irresistible scent, strongest in the dark of night.

And then they saw what it looks like. Here’s a picture to help you understand better.

Ylang Ylang Tree Whose Flowers Are Made Into Essential OilThe ylang ylang tree is found in the tropical wildernesses of the Pacific archipelagoes. Photo Source: David J. Stang, Wikimedia Commons

 

  • Introduction
  • Background
  • Benefits and Uses
    • For mood regulation
    • For clear and healthy skin
    • For thick and vibrant hair
    • For heart conditions and blood pressure
    • For relieving menstrual pain
    • For the libido
    • For easing inflammation
    • For the household
  • Precautions
  • Recipes
  • Summary
  • Bibliography

Background

Ylang ylang flowers have traditionally been used for various purposes in many cultures. Said to be an aphrodisiac, they’ve been strewn over the beds of newlyweds in Malaysia to ensure… well, “married bliss” is one way to put it. They’ve also been found effective for improving scalp health and promoting a thicker and more luxurious growth of hair. To disinfect wounds and help them heal faster, parts of the ylang ylang tree would sometimes be applied due to being natural antiseptics. Having powerful yet gentle antibacterial and astringent properties, its extracts has also been known to show great results when applied to the skin.

As the ylang ylang is indigenous only to the Pacific archipelagos, as well as a few other countries that share a similar climate like Madagascar, most people from other parts of the globe only get to experience this tree and its aromatic flowers through its essential oil. Ylang ylang essential oil was already being produced for centuries in the trees’ native soil, and it was also being exported as early as the nineteenth century. In modern times, this distinctive, sweet-smelling essential oil has found its way to many perfumes (Chanel no. 5, anyone?) and to other cosmetic products.

For many years now, it’s been gaining steady popularity for use in aromatherapy due to its antidepressive, antiseborrheic, and analgesic properties, just to name a few.

It is said that the best flowers to use for making essential oil are those harvested in the peak of night due to the higher concentration of aromatic compounds in that timeframe. They are then placed into a steam distiller and subsequently processed. But the technique of steam distillation to create this essential oil is different from others in that it takes longer and comes in stages. The initial batch of essential oil produced during the first two hours of extraction is dubbed “extra.” It is the purest grade oil with the highest quality, making it very expensive. This is usually what goes into perfume-making.

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil Has Distinct and Beneficial Aroma Like the FlowersDespite a rather unusual appearance, the ylang ylang flower has grown to popularity in the perfume industry for its sweet captivating aroma. Photo Source: Judgefloro, Wikimedia Commons

The next batches produced during the succeeding twelve hours are collected at intervals. They come with the grades I, II, and III, and while their purity drops with each grade, they are still representatives of the flowers they were derived from. The lower grades are usually used for a range of skin-care, hair-care, and other products, or are marketed as essential oils (with the specific grade properly indicated) in their own right.

What’s known as “complete” ylang ylang essential oil in aromatherapy circles is the product you get either by “topping” the grades with the pure “extra” essential oil or by simply completing the steam distillation in one go, not dividing the essential oil produced by grade or purity. To learn more about this oil’s many and diverse applications, read on to the next section.


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Benefits and Uses of Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

In their native lands, ylang ylang has traditionally been put to many medicinal uses. For example, the Javanese people used its dried flowers to help treat malaria and its accompanying symptoms. The Vietnamese were also known to do this, and the people of the Northern Marianas Islands made paste out of the aromatic flowers to ease asthma. Along with the flowers, bark from the ylang ylang tree was also used for the treatment of pneumonia and stomach complaints.

Perhaps the best of its uses that’s also common to most of these cultures is as an antidepressant and general mood enhancer. Without the technology we have today to aid them in measuring the beneficial chemicals within ylang ylang, these early peoples knew anyway how helpful it can be for various types of conditions, often by simply taking the evidence of their senses for what it is.

Most who enjoy essential oils today still do this, but because of the growing body of research about them, we now also have a more steady footing for understanding how essential oils in general and ylang ylang in particular works. Let’s now explore these effects in greater detail.

1. For mood regulation

In the Philippines, fresh ylang ylang and jasmine flowers are traditionally made into garlands. They’re mostly used as religious offerings, but many simply buy these ubiquitous and inexpensive flower necklaces to scent their spaces. And little wonder why. Not only has ylang ylang’s scent (and jasmine’s too, for that matter) been shown to induce the production of the happiness hormone called dopamine when inhaled, it’s also been revealed that it sends the mind into a state of deep relaxation while also decreasing cognitive performance.

Whoa, wait—what does that last line mean? Don’t worry, it doesn’t make you stupid, it simply means that ylang ylang essential oil can play a part in slowing down brain activity. Brain activity which, in sufferers of anxiety and/or depression, usually means a whole slew of negative, unhealthy, and constantly spiraling thoughts. Wouldn’t you want to take a break from something like that?

Unlike chemical antidepressants, ylang ylang essential oil is completely natural and as such doesn’t have any extreme side effects. Each time you need relief, you can reach for it again and again without worries of overdosing. Please see Precautions to learn more about proper administration.

Of course, these effects can also be felt and enjoyed on an ordinary bad day. Ease your fatigued mind and tired body simply by adding a few drops of this oil to your diffuser, inhaling straight from the bottle, or making a handy perfume out of it so you can have this lovely scent on you all day long. Learn how in the Recipes section.

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil Diffusion for Lifting MoodAs a fragrancing element for candles, ylang ylang essential oil can imitate the aromatic evening air that the flowering tree creates in its natural habitat. Photo Source: Honou, flickr

2. For clear and healthy skin

Like any essential oil with antibacterial, antiseborrheic, and astringent properties, ylang ylang has been known to consistently show desirable results when it comes to helping clear the skin from acne and from other dermal conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Regular use kills the bacteria trapped in the skin. It also helps clean out dirt, melt away the hardened sebum within your pores and regulate its production, and tighten the skin, giving it a smoother appearance while depriving dirt and bacteria of any more foothold.

To enjoy these benefits, add two to three drops of ylang ylang essential oil to a teaspoon of carrier agent. Ylang ylang works particularly well with coconut oil or other skin-friendly oils, but you can also simply add the drops to your face cream. Mix it well and apply.

To treat other skin conditions like dermatitis, add the drops into your liquid soap or shampoo during every use. Massage into the skin and leave on for a few minutes before rinsing. Repeat as often as needed.

3. For thick and vibrant hair

For helping to reduce hair loss, encourage thicker growth, or simply to have a more luxurious head of hair, mix ylang ylang essential oil with coconut oil in a 1:1 ratio, the amount for each depending on how much hair needs covering. Leave the solution on for about half an hour and wash as usual, then prepare to be amazed.

4. For heart conditions and blood pressure

A study performed on a group of men revealed that inhaling ylang ylang can help reduce heart rate and blood pressure. This was performed on healthy men and only sought to prove the sedating effects of ylang ylang oil by simple inhalation—as opposed to topical application described in another study—but even so, its results has far-reaching implications. It could potentially help alleviate conditions like hypertension, as another study revealed, as well as regulate pulse rate and blood pressure to keep them from exceeding healthy levels. Ylang ylang essential oil has also been shown to help with spasmodic conditions like arrhythmia which, while usually non-threatening, can be alarming for sufferers.

To take advantage of these benefits, mix two to three drops of ylang ylang essential oil with a teaspoon of carrier oil and massage over the affected areas. It can also be diffused at any time when relief is needed, or even before bedtime so it could also aid in achieving deeper and better quality of sleep. For best results, blend ylang ylang with essential oils that share similar properties like lemon and lavender.

5. For relieving menstrual pain

For many women, getting their period each month is a dreaded yet inescapable reality. Along with wreaking havoc over their emotional and mental balance, menstruation also does a number on their skin as well as in their internal organs. They’ll have pain from cramps, nausea, and diarrhea, just to name a few, and in extreme cases, symptoms of PMS could make them unable to function normally.

Ylang ylang has many of the properties necessary to alleviate these symptoms. As a sedative, ylang ylang essential oil can help the body relax while ridding the mind of negative thoughts. As an analgesic, it can help relieve cramps and other muscle pain, working wonders too when diluted and massaged over the neck and temples to soothe nausea and headaches. And as a general regulator of various systems in the body, it could help regulate whatever’s been thrown out of whack internally and get the body closer to a normal level of functioning.

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil Fragrance Like the Flowers Has Many Diverse UsesThe beautiful fragrance of ylang ylang flowers fills the air at the peak of night when its aromatic compounds are at higher concentrations. Photo Source: Zaqqy, flickr

6. For the libido

We mentioned how ylang ylang flowers have traditionally been strewn on marriage beds to facilitate the start of a satisfactory married life. While this traditional practice no doubt still continues in many places, it’s since been disproven—or at least, we now know that ylang ylang’s purported aphrodisiac effect doesn’t work in quite the way we thought it does. Instead, it actually works more like a sip of strong alcohol for courage. As the aroma works its way through the body, it relaxes tension and eases away doubts and other niggling thoughts. Which should work well enough, or the tradition wouldn’t have survived to this day.

Of course, the bedroom isn’t the only place or situation you could put this effect to good use. Take a good long whiff of ylang ylang essential oil if you need to relax before a big interview. For added confidence, rub some on your pulse points and carry the confidence-giving scent with you all day.

7. For easing inflammation

In nature, ylang ylang’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects are one of the strongest. In some cases, it’s powerful effect of easing pain and inflammation can be on the same level as pharmaceutical drugs which had been developed for such a purpose. Nature did it all on its own, and there’s none of the dangers and side effects of our man-made remedies.

Use ylang ylang essential oil simply to target certain areas, or use it to soothe pain away from your entire body—all you’ll need is a few diluted drops to rub over aches, or a few more to add to your bath water so you could soak everything away. The best part? You’ll be able to inhale its fumes in tandem, so its healing effects could be felt by your mind too.

8. For the household

The usefulness of ylang ylang isn’t just limited to the body, it can be for the home too! Use it as a bactericidal for the air and various surfaces—simply mix with water or alcohol and use in a spray, or else pop a few drops in a diffuser and let your next aromatherapy session have double purposes.

Ylang ylang oil’s antimicrobial property can be particularly beneficial for disinfecting gadgets and other objects in the household that are frequently handled and can therefore be teeming with bacteria. Put a few drops on tissue or a clean rag and wipe those germs away, or make another spray with a finer mist so you could disinfect regularly.

Remember, while ylang ylang essential oil can help you treat various illnesses, prevention should always come first.

Pure and All Natural Essential Oils with No Additives

This is by no means an exhaustive list—there’s still plenty more we haven’t covered which you might discover for yourself if you try our ylang ylang essential oil out. Want to see if it is or isn’t an aphrodisiac? Want to test just how powerful its pain-killing and sedating effects can be? Or simply want to find out what all the fuss is about its famed scent? Then add this essential oil to your cart now!

Precautions

Ylang ylang essential oil is one of the few essential oils that may be safely ingested, but only in small amounts and in properly regulated dosages. Please consult your health provider or a qualified aromatherapy practitioner to learn about the appropriate amount of ylang ylang oil you could ingest based on your condition.

As with any essential oil, exercise caution when applying topically. Ylang ylang essential oil is relatively milder on the skin than others and can be used without dilution, but always stray on the safe side and perform a patch test first to see if you have sensitivity to it. Dilution is still highly advisable, especially when more than two drops at any given time is to be used.

It is considered non-toxic and can safely be administered to children, under professional guidance. If you are pregnant, lactating, or taking medications, please refrain from using any kind of essential oil before proper consultation with a qualified practitioner. Keep away from the eyes and other mucous membranes and out of reach of children and pets.

Recipes

Ready to try on your ylang ylang essential oil and experiment with blends and uses? We’re here to help you get started. Following are simple blends and recipes that would make the most out of your enchanting bottle of flower essence.

    • Ylang ylang essential oil – 5 drops
    • Bergamot essential oil – 3 drops
    • Cedarwood essential oil – 2 drops
    • Ylang ylang OR rose hydrosol – 1 oz
    • A glass fine mist spray bottle with fine mist cap – 2-oz size

Simply:

    1. In the bottle, mix together the drops of essential oils. Let it sit and meld together for a few minutes up to an hour to ensure optimal blending.
    2. Add in the hydrosol, then add distilled water to fill the rest of the bottle.
    3. Shake thoroughly and enjoy whenever! You could use it to scent not just your body but also your bed, or any space you occupy that you want to turn into a magical woodland.

    • Ylang ylang essential oil – 2 drops
    • Lavender essential oil – 2 drops
    • Patchouli essential oil – 2 drops
    • Coconut oil (as carrier; substitutes include olive or jojoba) – 3 tsps

Instructions:

    1. Add all the essential oils together and let it blend together for a time.
    2. Mix the carrier oil and blend well. The resulting massage oil for the entire body is good for one use. If you want to create a bigger batch that may be stored for future use, adjust the ratio of essential oil to carrier oil accordingly. You might also need a light-filtering glass bottle as container to ensure the essential oils would keep for a long time.

    • Ylang ylang essential oil – 6 drops
    • Sandalwood essential oil – 3 drops
    • Cardamom essential oil – 2 drops
    • Your choice of massage oil – 1 oz
    • Jojoba oil – 1 oz
    • A glass bottle for storage

Directions:

    1. Add the drops of essential oil together and allow to meld for a time.
    2. Add in the massage oil and the jojoba oil. Screw on the lid and blend everything well.
    3. Coat and work over sore parts of your body whenever you need it, or make rubbing it all over your skin a ritual before going to bed. Enjoy!
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil Recipes, Uses, BenefitsDue to its delicate and complex extraction process, ylang ylang essential oil is a relatively expensive perfume ingredient. Photo Source: Pixabay

    • Ylang ylang essential oil – 1 drop
    • Jasmine essential oil – 2 drops
    • Carrier oil – 3 drops

Directions:

    1. Mix the drops of essential oil and let it sit for a time to meld.
    2. Add the carrier oil, blend, and anoint your pulse points with the resulting perfume!

    • Ylang ylang essential oil – 2 drops
    • Bergamot essential oil – 1 drop

    • Ylang ylang essential oil – 2 drops
    • Cedarwood essential oil – 1 drop

    • Ylang ylang essential oil – 4 drops
    • Lime or lemon essential oil – 4 drops
    • Lavender essential oil – 3 drops

Notice that these are the same essential oils used in a study that showed promising results in lowering heart rate and blood pressure, among other desirable effects. At this point it is probably best to tell you that if you have a range of essential oils available, you could literally mix and match to come up with a blend that most suits your senses or particular health needs. Also, invest in stocking up with skin-friendly carrier oils as you’ll need plenty of those in your quest to reap the full benefits of your essential oils of choice. Lastly, some citrus-based essential oil may be so acidic that they could damage ordinary diffusers. Please make sure yours could handle citrus essential oils before putting some on.

Check out a variety of essential oils you can use in these recipes here in Our Shop.

Summary

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

Ylang ylang is one of those plants that our ancestors reached for when seeking a remedy for their ailments. Like the willow which gave us aspirin, the known healing benefits of ylang ylang and its essential oil may someday also be exploited and utilized in place of synthetic medications that doesn’t always work or cause serious side effects.

In the meantime, we may all enjoy and bask in everything already available to us in the form of this oil. Breathe in its scent and be transported to a calming inner place, or massage all over the body and feel it drain away all your aches and tensions. Whatever purpose you put it to, one thing’s for sure, the mystical scent from this flower of flowers will be a fragrance unlike anything you’ve ever known before.

The ylang ylang used in Aroma Foundry’s essential oil was sourced from Madagascar, one of the largest exporters of this special bloom. As such, our ylang ylang essential oil is guaranteed to be all-natural and 100% pure with all the accompanying benefits. Inhale its lovely scent and be healed.

Bibliography

  1. "10 Recipes with Ylang Ylang Essential Oil – Cananga Odorata." Suzannerbanks. March 28, 2018. https://suzannerbanks.blog/2014/04/30/10-recipes-with-ylang-ylang-essential-oil-cananga-odorata/.
  2. "7 Ylang Ylang Essential Oil Uses for Anxiety and More." DrEricZ.com. March 25, 2018. https://drericz.com/ylang-ylang-essential-oil-uses/.
  3. Babcock, Jillian. "Ylang Ylang Boosts Heart Health, Moods & Energy." Dr. Axe. December 04, 2017. https://draxe.com/ylang-ylang/.
  4. Cha, J. H., S. H. Lee, and Y. S. Yoo. "[Effects of Aromatherapy on Changes in the Autonomic Nervous System, Aortic Pulse Wave Velocity and Aortic Augmentation Index in Patients with Essential Hypertension]." Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing. October 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21157172.
  5. Jung, Da-Jung, Jun-Youl Cha, Sung-Eun Kim, Il-Gyu Ko, and Yong-Seok Jee. "Effects of Ylang-Ylang Aroma on Blood Pressure and Heart Rate in Healthy Men." Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation. April 2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3836517/.
  6. "Romantic Ylang Ylang: 5 Sensual Recipes to Caress Body & Soul." All Things Herbal. February 03, 2014. https://allthingsherbaldotorg.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/romantic-ylang-ylang-5-sensual-recipes-to-caress-body-soul/.
  7. Seward, Marc. "11 Proven Ylang Ylang Essential Oil Benefits." Healthy Focus. June 13, 2016. https://healthyfocus.org/ylang-ylang-essential-oil-benefits/.
  8. Tan, Loh Teng Hern, Learn Han Lee, Wai Fong Yin, Chim Kei Chan, Habsah Abdul Kadir, Kok Gan Chan, and Bey Hing Goh. "Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry, and Bioactivities of Cananga Odorata (Ylang-Ylang)." Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : ECAM. 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4534619/.
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