Unlike species of the Annona genus (see soursop and cinnamon apple) which are native to South America, ylang-ylang or cananga tree is a tree from the forests of Southeast Asia (Malay Peninsula, Insulindia) .
It can reach a large size, up to 30 m, but is never imposing, its trunk is straight with poorly developed and slightly hanging branches.
The flowers, in groups, are born on the branches, the petals in strips are long from 4 to 8 cm, yellowish green, of waxy aspect and release a strong and pleasant odor.
The fruits (berries) are in groups of 4 to 10 of black brown color.
This tree has been introduced in many tropical regions including Madagascar, Reunion, Polynesia, the Philippines, the West Indies.
In the Madagascar - Comoros region, ylang ylang is grown and distilled a lot (especially for perfumery). It is an easy cultivation but harvesting the petals is long and tedious because it is most often done by hand.
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
YLANG YLANG FLOWERS AND ESSENTIAL OIL
All parts of the tree contain essential oil, but it is the flower petals that contain the most (1.5 to 2%).
The volatile substances of the essential oil are dissipated by the tropical heat and easily perceived around the tree, so it is better to pick the flowers of the ylang-ylang in the early morning than in the late afternoon.
The chemical composition of ylang ylang essential oil varies according to the cultivar (genetic variety) and especially according to the growing area.
It is a complex mixture of free and esterified, acyclic and cyclic terpenes, sesquiterpenes (pinene, linalool, geraniol, safrol, eugenol..)
Simplified average composition of the essential oil of ylang-ylang from Madagascar (source Aromazone):
Sesquiterpenes predominate: germacrene-D (19.58%), beta-caryophyllene (14.22%), alpha-farnesene (10.49%).
Monoterpene alcohols dominated by linalool (7.27%).
Few esters in this Madagascar oil: mainly geranyl acetate (7.90%) and benzyl benzoate (6.59%).
In other geographical origins, the essential oil of ylang-ylang can be dominated by linalool (up to 55%) or by esters (benzyl or methyl benzoate, 40 to 50%)
The essential oil of ylang ylang which is used in aromatherapy is the complete distillate of the flowers (the "totum"), not to be confused with cananga oil, the second part of the distillation, of lesser pharmacological interest and above all used in perfumery.
This essential oil has not been extensively studied for its pharmacological properties, it is:
- Local and oral antiseptic.
- It causes sympathicolytic type effects: drop in blood pressure, slowing of the heart which is also attributed to a drop in adrenocortical activity.
- It is therefore a soothing, relaxing essential oil which is known to promote sexuality, slightly aphrodisiac (perhaps by releasing psychological tensions).
- Insecticide and repellent (including scabies, mites, mosquitoes, mealworms parasites of flour and dry foods).
- Antispasmodic especially on smooth muscle fibers (bladder, intestine)
BARK OF CANANGA ODORATA AND ITS ROOTS, FRUIT OF CANANGA ODORATA YLANG-YLANG
Branch and root barks contain many pharmacological substances including liriodenine, an aporphine-type alkaloid that inhibits the enzyme topoisomerase2, in vivo and in vitro, and is involved in cell reproduction (mitosis).
This type of alkaloid has cytotoxic and therefore anti-cancer potential.
The fruits are toxic and also contain alkaloids studied for their properties but not yet used to my knowledge.
YLANG YLANG FLOWERS
The ylang ylang flower is widely used in all regions of the Pacific and South-East Asia to make fragrant and decorative necklaces or crowns, often mixed with the fruit of Pandanus tectorius, pieces of pineapple, flowers and fragrant rhizomes, or as part of traditional events.
YLANG YLANG ESSENTIAL OIL
The essential oil is mainly used for its soothing, anti-stress, slightly sedative power and to help lower blood pressure when it is moderately increased.
It is traditionally an essential oil that promotes sexuality, it is considered an aphrodisiac especially by its relaxing side raising inhibitions but it also tends to promote sleep!!
The essential oil of ylang ylang is moderately antibacterial and can be used in dermatology and in the event of intestinal infection of the "turista" type, but due to the variability of its composition makes it is preferable to use for this type of infection chemically more "regular" essential oils such as clove or cinnamon bark.
Like the majority of essential oils, it can be used as an antiseptic and skin regenerator (mixed with ethyl alcohol or a fatty substance (cream, oil)).
Example: 3 to 4 drops in a teaspoon of vegetable oil (olive, hazelnut, coconut palm) or massage oil.
It is best to test your sensitivity first because you can be allergic to some of its components (one drop on the skin for 24 hours)
It is an essential oil with a very pleasant and somewhat "exotic" smell that is incorporated into massage oils and increases their relaxing effect.
The "sympathicolytic" effect leads to a decrease in irritability, a certain relaxation in the event of stress, but also a drop in blood pressure and therefore a risk of dizziness or faintness in people whose blood pressure is normally a little low. .
You can use ylang ylang essential oil by orally if necessary in case of digestive infection (enteritis, colitis, fermentations, turista) but it is not the best essential oil for this type of infection and on the other hand its chemical composition being variable, you are never sure of what you are swallowing!!
dosage for information: 2 to 3 drops 3 to 4 times a day;
The use of ylang ylang essential oil is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women and for young children .
A MALAYSIAN TREE CULTIVATED FOR ITS FLOWERS
Ylang ylang is both the tree and the perfume. The curious flowers by their shape are very fragrant, the essential oil they contain is antiseptic, relaxing, soothing and slightly lowers blood pressure.
Ylang ylang is widely used in perfumery
Copyright 2022 : Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel