Ylang ylang is one of the most popular essential oils worldwide. Ylang ylang means “fragrance of all fragrances” or “flower of flowers” and has traditionally been used to cover nuptial beds of newlyweds on their wedding eve. The ylang-ylang (pronounced ee-lang ee-lang) tree grows up to 65 feet high. The ylang ylang tree produces large delicate flowers year around that are various shades yellow, pink or mauve and harvested primarily for the production of essential oil. The yellow flowers have long trailing petals and a strong, sweet aromatic scent. The ylang ylang flowers are ideal in the manufacturing of perfumes. Few flowers compare to the signature ylang ylang scents consisting of heavy, sweet floral aromas that are sometimes blended with jasmine oil, rose oil and cardamom. The ylang ylang essential oil is characterized as intensely floral, soft, slightly spicy, sweet, moderate balsamic, with a narcissus or bananalike overtone and a scent of a rich creamy top note.According to D. Gary Young ND in his book, Essential oils Integrative Medical Guide, “Ylang ylang (Cananga odoratum) helps bring about a sense of relaxation and may help balance male and female energies. It balances equilibrium and restores confidence and self-love.”
Ylang ylang is considered to be a very romantic, euphoric, soothing, calming and of course a sensual oil.
The yellow flowers of the tree are preferred over other colors for the steam extraction of ylang ylang essential oil. Ylang ylang flowers are freshly picked very early in the morning, to maximize oil production, all year long. Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata var. genuina) yellow flowers are steam distilled in fractionated rounds to separate the delicate, topmost, floral notes (approx. 40% of yield) from the more bourbon earthy type notes of following fractionations. The Cananga odorata essential oil is extensively used in aromatherapy and the making of perfumes.
Some believe the ylang ylang tree originated in the Philippines, but the ylang ylang tree is considered indigenous to tropical Asia including Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Comoro & Reunion Islands and Madagascar. The Cananga odorata has spread its growing borders and naturalized in Vietnam, Northern Australia, Thailand, most of the larger Pacific Islands and is cultivated in France as well as throughout the tropical regions of the world.
Ylang ylang is one of the most prized essential oils. Ylang ylang’s sweet and heavy scent reminiscent to jasmine, is celebrated on honeymoons and in weddings.
Ylang ylang essential oil is sold in four grades: ylang ylang “extra”, ylang ylang #1, ylang ylang #2, and ylang ylang #3.
The different grades ylang ylang oil vary based on the length of time the flowers are in the steam distillation process. The ylang ylang essential oil taken off early in the distillation process is the strongest scent (“Extra”). Ylang ylang #1 produces the best quality in the shortest period of time for the best price. All four grades of ylang ylang oil have a heavy scent compared to other scented essential oils.
1. ylang ylang extra, 1st steam extraction, most potent scent, most expensive, ONLY used in perfume industry,
2. ylang ylang oil #1, 2nd extraction, very best qualities for medicinal and aromatherapy use,
3. ylang ylang #2, 3rd extraction, weaker scent than #1
4. ylang ylang #3, 4th extraction taking nearly 24 hours, weakest scent, cheapest oil.
The principal constituents of ylang ylang are: alpha pinene, benzoic acid, cadinene, caryophylelene, creosol, eugenol, farnasene, farnesol, geranial, geraniol, geranyl acetate, isoeugenol, Linalol, linalyl acetate, linalyl benzoate, methyl chavicol, pinene*beta-Caryophyllene, safrol, and ylangol. [Shirley Price, The Aromatherapy Workbook (Hammersmith, London: Thorsons, 1993), 54-5.]
Clinical studies has shown ylang ylang, to possess antibacterial properties against various bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus (1).
In another trial, ylang ylang was shown to kill Pseudomonas aeruginosaand also inhibit growth of Candida albicans (2).
Ylang ylang has also been shown to be one of the most popular and effective essential oils for epilepsy as shown in a clinical trial performed by Dr. Betts of England (3).
1. Ontengco DC et al. Acta Manilana, 1995; 43:19-23. Cited in the Aromatherapy Database, by Bob Harris, Essential Oil Resource Consultants, UK, 2000. Screening for the antibacterial activity of essential oils from some Philippine plants.
2. Maudsley F, Kerr, KG. Support Skin Cancer, 1999 March;7 (2): 100-102. PMID:10089091. Microbiological safety of essential oils used in complementary therapies and the activity of these compounds against bacterial and fungal pathogens.
3. Betts T.. Aroma 95 Conference, Practical experience of using aromatherapy in people with epilepsy July 1995, Guilford, UK.
General Safety Information: Do not take any essential oils internally without consultation from medical doctor or qualified aromatherapy practitioner . Do not apply undiluted absolutes, essential oils, CO2s or other pure essences onto the skin. Use essential oils only under the proper guidance of a qualified aromatherapy practitioner, medical doctor or health professional if you have any other medical problem, cancer, are pregnant, epileptic, or have liver damage. Conduct a skin patch test prior to using any essential oil. Seek professional guidance before using essential oils on children. Ylang ylang can produce nausea or headaches when used in excess. [Julia Lawless, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (Rockport, MA: Element Books, 1995), 104.] Possible sensitization. [Robert Tisserand, Essential Oil Safety (United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone, 1995), 211.]
Avoid using Ylang Ylang oil while pregnant or breast-feeding.
Ylang Ylang uses: “Anxiety, depression, frigidity, hypertension, palpitations, stress”. [Julia Lawless, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils (Rockport, MA: Element Books, 1995), 61-67.]
Ylang ylang is also thought to relieve depression, sexual dysfunction, lack of interest, sharpen the senses, calming effects and to temper jealousy, anger, depression, and fear and support for oily skin.