Ylang ylang (scientific name Cananga odorata) is an exotic tree from the tropical areas of Africa. The name also designates its flowers and the essential oil that can be produced from them. The ylang ylang oil is highly praised for its scent and widely used in aromatherapy and as a perfume ingredient.
The tree is native to continental Asia and it was later introduced to the islands of Indonesia, Malaysia and the Pacific. Today, it is also cultivated in the Caribbean and some countries in the Americas and Africa.
The tree grows very fast and can reach a height of 40 to 60 feet. It is very attractive due to the shiny leaves and the beautiful flowers, with a green or yellow color and a strong scent. The flower fragrance resembles the one of jasmine, with strong sweet tones. This is why the flowers are used during weddings and honeymoons in some Pacific countries.
The ylang ylang oil is very valuable and can be classified in four grades of quality: ylang extra, ylang I, ylang II, and ylang III. The moment when the steam distillation is stopped determines the oil’s grade. Ylang extra has the shorter distillation time and the best quality, while ylang III can be distilled for up to 24 hours and has the lightest scent and lowest price. However, even the weakest grades have a stronger fragrance than other aromatic natural oils, so they must be used with caution. The scent is very dominant and can easily cover other ingredients when used in a mixture.
Similar to the scent of jasmine and rose, the strong fragrance of ylang ylang has traditionally been considered to have aphrodisiac properties. This is one of the main reasons for the oil’s high value and popularity. The supposed aphrodisiac effect is easy to explain: it is simply a very nice fragrance that attracts the other sex. For the same reason, it is widely used in aromatherapy, since a pleasant scent can relieve stress during a hot bath. However, the fragrance is extremely strong and some people can’t tolerate it, it can even cause headache to some sensitive individuals.
Ylang ylang oil is also said to help in cases of depression and severe anxiety. Adding the oil to a massage mixture or an aromatic lamp is a very old cure for lack of sexual interest or other sexual problems. The oil is often used to replace jasmine in the perfume industry, since it has a similar smell to essential jasmine oil but is much cheaper.
One of the most serious diseases that can be treated with ylang ylang essential oil is seborrhoeic eczema, also known simply as seborrhea. This is a very annoying condition triggered when the skin sebaceous glands don’t function well. This leads to a defective production of sebum, which makes the skin permanently sensitive and infected. The skin turns white or very pale, with an ugly aspect. It can be either too dry or too oily and it starts peeling off, with serious pain. Any part of the body can be affected but the disease is usually found on areas with hair follicles such as the scalp, eyebrows or cheeks. The ylang ylang oil is a natural counter for this condition, since it regulates sebum production while fighting and reducing infection and inflammation.
Like most herbal essential oils, ylang ylang oil is a strong natural antiseptic. Ylang ylang oil can be applied on open wounds, cuts or burns in order to prevent infection. The oil is especially helpful to treat wounds caused by iron or rusty objects, which present a higher risk of a potentially lethal tetanus infection. It can clear the wounds and kill any germs, which prevents normal sepsis but also more serious types of infection. Since the pathogens are killed, the wound’s rate of healing increases. It is effective against all types of pathogens, such as viruses, bacteria or fungi.
The ylang ylang oil's antiseptic properties can also be used internally, to treat infections of various organs. The most common infections attack the urinary system, stomach, colon or intestines. It is very effective as a natural cosmetic for the skin, restoring its smoothness, moisture and youthful aspect. The oil can also help in cases of excessive fatigue, insomnia or lack of sexual interest.
In Asia, ylang ylang oil has been used for a long time as a skin and hair cosmetic. Besides rejuvenating the skin, the oil also acts as a sedative and can reduce depression due to its very attractive scent. The easiest way to use it is to add just a few drops in your bath water. It will restore the youth of your skin but also lift your mood and relieve anxiety. It is also an excellent general skin cosmetic. Since it balances sebum production, the oil is effective against all types of skin issues; it doesn’t matter if you suffer from dry, greasy or combination skin.
Due to its ability to quickly kill germs, ylang ylang essential oil is a strong general antiseptic and wounds cleanser. It can be a fast remedy for boils and other forms of skin irritation, as well as acne. The ylang ylang oil also serves as a general-purpose skin tonic.