If you’ve turned on the television during the past decade, you’ve likely witnessed an endless parade of commercials promoting the silky smooth benefits of ylang-ylang in hair care products. However ridiculous the hair care commercial is, there is some serious some merit to their claims. Ylang ylang has many natural healing properties and is well known throughout the world of aromatherapy for its soothing, relaxing and mood-enhancing characteristics.
What Is Ylang Ylang
Ylang ylang is most commonly found as an essential oil, distilled from the flowers of the Cananga odorata tree. The tree originated in Indonesia and throughout Polynesia, but now is found in other tropical areas around the world. Its fragrance is world-renowned, thanks to its popularity in the perfume industry. For example, did you know that it is one of the key ingredients in Chanel No. 5?
Its fragrant scent comes from chemical compounds called terpenes, which now are increasingly popular for their medicinal applications. The two primary terpene compounds in ylang ylang are caryophyllene and germacrene.
What are Ylang Ylang’s Benefits
Ylang ylang essential oil has much more to it than meets the eye, or should we say nose? It has a long history of use throughout the South Pacific for its many healing properties. It was used to treat anything from stomach problems to depression, to managing the symptoms of malaria. These days, many of these original uses for ylang ylang are proving true. Many secrets left to reveal through continued scientific research into this potent little yellow flower.
1. Mood Enhancer
Ylang ylang essential oil is well-known in aromatherapy for its mood-enhancing properties. Aromatherapy recipes commonly combine it with complementary oils, such as bergamot, jasmine and lavender for use as a mild natural antidepressant. For anyone who finds themselves waking up on the wrong side of the bed every morning, a little mood-boosting aromatherapy blend might just be what the doctor ordered. Ylang ylang also is thought to reduce anxiety and also combat insomnia.
As a traditional Thai fragrance, it is often said to ”expand the heart” and promote positive emotions, such as happiness, bliss and relaxation. Part of the reason ylang ylang is thought to boost positive feelings is it contains a natural chemical called germacrene D. This compound also is found in many other soothing essential oils, such as clary sage and tulsi.
2. Hair Care
If you have heard of ylang ylang at all, it’s likely because you’ve seen it in shampoo and conditioner commercials. Some of the most prominent hair care brands have hopped on board the ylang ylang train, advertising it as a key shampoo ingredient for silkier, fuller and healthier hair. Although the hair care brands might exaggerate the benefits of their shampoo products, they are not exaggerating the benefits of this famous essential oil.
Ylang ylang has a long history of use for dry and damaged hair. When gently massaged into the scalp, it not only moisturizes but reduces problematic scalp itch. As it’s worked into the skin, it also conditions the roots of the hair naturally without the use of harsh chemicals.
Make a do-it-yourself deep conditioning hair oil by combining a few drops of ylang ylang with a couple of spoonfuls of coconut oil. Warm up the mixture in your hands and massage into your scalp, letting it sit for at least 20 minutes before washing it out. After a few days, you’ll notice silkier, healthier, more luxurious hair.
3. Skin Benefits
Similar to its effects on hair, ylang ylang is also a beneficial skin care product. No need to drop hundreds of dollars on fancy skin care products when ylang ylang is within easy reach. Especially for those who find it challenging to avoid dry skin in the wintertime, using a few drops of essential oil helps to balance out skin moisture perfectly. There is also some suggestion that using ylang ylang topically might help reduce the risk of skin cancer by preventing the damage done by UV rays.
If you have a bottle of ylang ylang handy, why not try a relaxing steam facial? Add a few drops of the essential oil into a bowl and fill with boiling water. With a towel placed over your head, place your face over the bowl and allow the steam to open your pores. The steam along with the ylang-ylang will help release any harmful bacteria and microbes found on the skin’s surface.
4. Promotes Heart Health
There are a few theories why ylang ylang might help improve heart health, including its ability to reduce stress when used in aromatherapy. Several preliminary studies have shown positive results for reducing blood pressure and heart rate. On top of that, ylang ylang has proven anti-inflammatory properties.
There are two suggested ways to use ylang ylang for heart health. First, you can combine a few powerful drops of the essential oil with a carrier oil, such as almond oil or coconut oil, and then massage it over your heart. Another way is ingesting a high-quality ylang ylang oil as a dietary supplement. However, it is highly recommended only to ingest ylang ylang under the direction of a medical practitioner.
5. Balances Hormones
Ylang ylang essential oil often is recommended for women going through hormonal changes and other symptoms of menopause. It’s also prescribed as a natural remedy for menstrual cramping and fluctuating emotions. Especially when combined with other relaxing oils, such as lavender and holy basil, ylang ylang is beneficial for balancing hormones when used as a massage oil.
6. Digestive Aid
One of the traditional uses of ylang ylang is as a digestive aid. Again, you should ingest it only under the direction of a medical professional, but it might help soothe a distressed gastrointestinal tract. Due to its natural antimicrobial, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, ylang ylang makes an excellent all-natural digestive treatment. Even if not used internally, it still also may be of digestive system benefit when gently massaged as a topical application over the lower abdomen.
Need a bit more information about gastrointestinal issues? Here are another 7 Foods for Digestive Health.
7. Antioxidant Properties
Oxidative stress is an inherently occurring process triggered by age and exposure to the natural environment. It is principally responsible for the aging process. Unfortunately, in today’s modern world, we all are exposed to many harmful toxins in our diet, our workplace and our home. As toxins build up, they speed up the aging process and also can increase the risk of cancer.
Ylang ylang is under scientific study for its usefulness as a potent antioxidant. In particular, extracts from the bark and flower have shown promise for combating oxidative stress, much more so than other compounds in the study. Evidence even suggests the flower also may have antioxidant properties. With further research, ylang ylang could be a useful tool to combat the signs of aging or cancer cell growth.
How to Use Ylang Ylang
Ylang ylang essential oil is a multi-talented substance. Not only can it be combined with other oils for use in aromatherapy (and, of course, used alone), it’s also beneficial when used topically and, in some cases, when ingested.
Ylang ylang is most famously used as a favorite aromatherapy fragrance. As mentioned earlier, it may boost mood, reduce anxiety, and soothe stress. It’s often combined with other complementary oils, such as clary sage and bergamot.
There are many ways to apply the theories of aromatherapy in your everyday life. You can use it as an environmental stimulant, in a diffuser or as a personal fragrance dabbed carefully on the underside of wrists or on the back of the neck.
Decode the wide world of aromatherapy with this handy chart.
Using ylang ylang topically makes use of its antimicrobial, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties. As skin care and hair care companies often advertise, ylang ylang oil is an all-natural and deeply nourishing compound.
When using ylang ylang as a massage oil, or in other skin care applications, it’s important to combine it with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil. Although ylang ylang is considered one of the safer topical essential oils, it is always safer once adequately diluted.
Unlike other essential oils that are not safe to use internally, ylang ylang may have some benefit when used under the careful direction of a doctor or naturopath. Using ylang ylang as a supplement might reduce gastrointestinal distress, diminish internal inflammation and balance hormones.
The next time you find yourself poking around the essential oil section at the health food store, why not branch out and explore ylang ylang? It could come in handy the next time you experience a little tummy upset or menstrual cramps. It might also help to elevate your mood if you happen to wake up on the wrong side of the bed. It’s many powerful health benefits are waiting to be discovered.