Ylang Ylang – a Flower from Heaven

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The “flower of flowers” as it is called sometimes has its firm place today in modern aromatherapy and perfumery. According to some sources the name “Ylang-Ylang ” is derived from Tagalog, the main language of the Philippines. It stems either from “ilang” meaning “wilderness” hinting at the natural habitat of the tree or from “ilang-ilan” meaning “flower of flowers” or “rare”, “special” because of its captivating scent. The essential oil is obtained by distillation of the beautiful 2 x 3 “Fibonacci-blossoms” of the tropical Cananga odorata tree which belongs to the Annonaceae family. Cananga trees are native to the Philippines and Indonesia, and their flowers are traditionally distilled there. The tree is fast growing and can reach a height of about 12 metres. In Comoro Islands, the Island of Reúnion and in Nosy Be, a small island north of Madagascar, for practical reasons to facilitate manual collecting of the flowers, Ylang trees are kept at lower sizes. Ylang Ylang favours full sun shine or half shade and grows best on the acidic soils of its native rain forest. The leaves are long, glossy and smooth. The blossoms look yellow to greenish in colour. The darker yellow blossoms yield the best quality of the essential oil which is rated by its higher content of ester compounds. The fruits are an important food source for several species of birds.

The essential oil is obtained in phases through four successive levels of steam distillation whereby the first one – called “Ylang extra” brings about the highest quality. There is also one quality, even higher, called “extra superior” which only stems from the Comoro Islands. The quality called “complete” is the result of a full distillation from “top to toe” 🙂 and not a successive one. Blossoms picked in early summer and the first morning hours produce the more fragrant oils.

Ylang Ylang destillation in Madagaskar

The major chemical components are Linalool, Farnesol, Geraniol, Geranial, Benzyl Acetate, Geranyl Acetate, Eugenol, Methyl Chavicol, Pinene, Beta-Carophyllene, Farnasene, Linalyl acetate and various terpenes, among them Pinene and Cadinene.

A healer of many shapes

The essential oil has seen an amazing uprise of public interest over the last few decades. Ylang’s strong, exotic-flowery heart notes range it among the precious fragrances of modern perfumery and aromatherapy. Its soothening effects especially on the heart rhythm (palpitations, tachycardia), hypertension, and on abnormal fast breathing as well as its anti-spasmodic properties and therapeutic effects against certain skin probblems (acne, irritated skin…) have been sufficiently documented.

Closeup of Ylang Ylang plant

Almost overwhelming in its floral richness one can say : Ylang is the “Jasmine of the Indian Ocean” and it shares with it the same uplifting, euphorizing qualities. The cooling and somehow “moist” nature of Ylang Ylang oil is of great help against mental and emotional agitation originating from sudden stress or shock. Ylang Ylang exhales a celestial earthiness which conveys radiant energy and helps the “needing ones” and especially all those who either tend to extreme loneliness or who foster inner “self-retirement” due to imbalanced spiritual quest or unilateral intellectual research. But also those who get caught in self-indulging isolation through grief and suffering with their ensuing uprootedness from reality can find help with Ylang.

According to natural laws laid down in ancient natural healing sciences like Ayur-Veda the “ether” (akasha = space) and “air” element, which are represented in the body by our mind and the nervous system, need to be balanced through the “earth” and “water” elements in order to keep connected with the physical life, with matter, body, and the “world around us”. The floral richness of exotic flowers such as Ylang in their angelic “earth-boundedness” can be of miraculous assistance for re-establishing a stable and joyful equilibrium. Research published in the “International Journal of Neuroscience” supported this, demonstrating an increase in calmness in subjects who were exposed to the essential oil in a controlled environment.

Here 2 scientific studies on inhalation of YlangYlang oil made by the “Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry”, at Srinakharinwirot University, Nakhon Nayok, Thailand

“The aim of this investigation was to study the effects of Ylang-Ylang essential oil (Cananga odorata, Annonaceae) on human physiological parameters and self-evaluation. Twenty-four healthy volunteers participated in the experiments. Fragrances were administered by inhalation. Physiological parameters recorded were skin temperature, pulse rate, breathing rate and blood pressure. Self-evaluation was assessed in terms of alertness, attentiveness, calmness, mood, relaxation and vigor. Additionally, fragrances were rated in terms of pleasantness, intensity and effect. The present investigation showed that Ylang-Ylang essential oil may be characterized by the concept of “harmonization” rather than relaxation/sedation. Compared to an odorless placebo, Ylang-Ylang essential oil caused significant decreases in blood pressure and pulse rate as well as significant increases of subjective attentiveness and alertness. Correlational analyses revealed that the observed effects are mainly due to a subjective odor experience.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15303255

Forty healthy volunteers participated in the experiments. Physiological parameters recorded were skin temperature, pulse rate, breathing rate and blood pressure. Self-evaluation was assessed by means of visual analog scales (VAS). The Ylang-Ylang essential oil caused a significant decrease of blood pressure and a significant increase of skin temperature. At the behavioral level, subjects in the Ylang-Ylang essential oil group rated themselves more calm and more relaxed than subjects in the control group. These findings are likely to represent a relaxing effect of the Ylang-Ylang essential oil and provide some evidence for the usage of the Ylang-Ylang essential oil in aromatherapy such as causing a relief of depression and stress in humans.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16807875

Smelling is a must with Ylang Ylang

The fragrance of Ylang-Ylang is flowery, sweet, enchanting, even bewitching, warm, exotic and soft. Smells are transmitted to our brain through direct perception because they use nerve cells for their transmission. Through the nose and the sense of smell, the aromatic substances reach the brain area of the limbic system where they are integrated and exert their influence on human thinking and feeling. Close to that very brain region we also find the centre of our memory and learning abilities intensely connected with feelings. This scientific discovery explains why the sense of smell is able to automatically release strong feelings thereby also activating the remembrance of past situations.

Cananga odorata tree in Madagaskar

Modern teachers make use of fragrances to support the learning process because it is well known meanwhile that the learning success can be improved by melting the contents with feelings which are easily set free through the use of scents. Thus accompanying the educational course at school with scents of favoured essential oils is a clever way of successfully assisting the memory to store required learning contents. Topics presented in a method allowing to combine thinking with feeling can be called back more easily and more correctly.

Ylang Ylang essential oil fragrance diffused in class rooms has also shown very good results in cases of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactvity Disorder)

” …the Ylang has helped me stay focused with studying as well as taking tests. This stuff actually works. I was able to stop my medication for ADD and just use the Ylang.” Rachel Branch – NM

“The Ylang has changed the whole atmosphere of my classroom from chaos to comfort. It generates calm, productive activity where there was once indifference and disrespect. Thanks so much!” Sharon Stewart – Concord, CA

“…what really caught my attention was the Ylang for concentration. Over the years my concentration ability has slowly decreased and in my decision-making engineering position it was essential that I have that ability. When I opened the Ylang in my office the first thing in the morning I took a few whiffs before settling down to read some documents. After 30 minutes I got up to go out of the office. Reaching to remove my reading glasses I realized I had been reading these documents without my glasses on! Not only had it improved my concentration, but it had improved my eyesight as well!” – Ed P.

Malagasy woman harvesting Ylang Ylang in Nosy Be

A recognized aphrodisiac

Also Ylang’s praised aphrodisiac qualities can be mentioned here. There is clearly a connection between the limbic system and the glands of the sexual organs. Ylang-Ylang, Sandalwood, Patschuli and other essential oils release pheromones, hormone substances, particular types of scents, stimulating the sexual readiness. The use of such essential oils are able to refine the sexual energies and transcend the mere physical experience by going beyond into a more sensitive, higher fulfilling level. Ylang Ylang is also recommended in case of sexual difficulties, fears and tensions. The aromatic substances reach the receptors of the corresponding brain region and spread their influence on the human consciousness thereby improving our moods or even changing the relationship between partners. It can be said that it is one of the essential oils creating the most strongly emotional effects. This potential explains why it is said of being able to dissolve jealousy and increase the zest for life. Very beautiful is a blend of Sandalwood and Ylang-Ylang for creating an uplifting and joy-enhancing energy.

Apart from being an aphrodisiac for men and women Ylang-Ylang also has a positive psychological effect on depression, disappointment, aggression and fear. Its ability to release strain and stress creates space of security and trust to surrender oneself to the life-sustaining powers of nature thereby supporting spiritual growth within man’s consciousness.

Ylang-Ylang is also used, as we have seen, in the perfume and cosmetic industry. In the cosmetic field there are products on the market against acne, problems with growth of hair and dandruff – many of them containing Ylang-Ylang among other substances because of its soothing, antiseptic and strengthening qualities. There are also numerous products for skin care and there are a lot of recipes to put together for bath oils and massage oils containing Ylang-Ylang. The oil is particularly recommended in the form of solar plexus massage (5 to 15 drops per day), diluted in a carrier oil. Diffusing Ylang Ylang at home coming back after a day of work is an amazing way to create a healthy and harmonious atmosphere.

To sum up one can say that this essential oil – with its magic effects touching the physical, psychological, mental and spiritual levels of life all together – is one of Nature’s most wonderful gifts. Blossoms of heaven for incarnations rooted in bliss.

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