Originally published on Guide to Aromatherapy
Ylang ylang essential oil is extracted from the freshly picked flowers of Cananga odorata, a tropical tree which is native to Indo-China, Malaysia and Queensland, Australia.
The oil is extracted by water or steam distillation, and like olive oil pressings there are different grades depending on when the distillates are collected. These grades are: extra, grade 1, grade 2 and grade 3. You may also find 2 or more grades mixed together and sold as “ylang ylang complete”. A concrete and absolute are also produced.
Extra grade ylang ylang oil is the first distillate and is generally used for top class perfumery because it has the most full-bodied scent. Grade 3 is the fourth distillate, used commercially as a fragrance in soap, shampoo and similar purposes. Grade 1, the second distillate, is most frequently offered for use in aromatherapy, though other grades are found. Complete ylang ylang oil is either a blend of all the distillates or a distillate which has just continued from start to finish, without fractionating.
The cheapest ylang ylang essential oil on sale is likely to be an imitation/fake oil or a mixture of ylang ylang and other ingredients, neither of which is suitable for aromatherapy. Remember to check that the oil offered is 100% pure essential oil and always buy from a reputable supplier, not just someone online with no provenance.
Cautions: Not suitable for use on children under 13 years of age. May reduce concentration. Use in moderation. Excessive use may cause headache or nausea, even though it’s used as an ingredient in some motion-sickness remedies.
Despite its heady fragrance, ylang ylang is a cooling oil and makes a good general tonic. It’s also used to reduce high blood pressure (hypertension), over-breathing (hyperpnea) and palpitations (tachycardia).
Ylang ylang oil is used topically to treat irritated skin, acne, insect bites and for general skin care. It normalizes sebum production which makes it useful as a skin softener for both dry and oily skin-types. It’s also used as a hair rinse and rubbed into the scalp to promote hair growth. To treat split ends, massage the ends of the hair with a blend of ylang ylang oil in apricot or jojoba base oil.
On the non-physical side, ylang ylang essential oil is calming and sedative, recommended for treating anger, anxiety, depression, detachment, fear of failure, guilt, impatience, insomnia, irritability, jealousy, nervous tension, panic attacks, mood swings caused by PMS*, lack of self-confidence, low self-esteem, selfishness, shock, shyness, stress and stubbornness.
*A mixture of ylang ylang, clary sage and neroli is also recommended for PMS.
Ylang ylang has a reputation as an aphrodisiac and for treating what used to be called frigidity, which is probably why the marital bed was customarily spread with ylang ylang flowers on Indonesian wedding nights. In the Philippines, it is one of the flowers used to make a lei (necklace) both for humans and religious images.
Ylang Ylang Extra Essential Oil (1st distillate)
Ylang Ylang I Essential Oil (2nd distillate)
Ylang Ylang III Essential Oil (4th distillate for soaps, etc.) and
Ylang Ylang Complete Essential Oil, Organic (blend of all fractions)
in my online shop.