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What is Ylang Ylang?

Ylang ylang flower.
Ylang ylang essential oil is used in aromatherapy for its stress relieving qualities.
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  • Written By: Jane Harmon
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 13 August 2014
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Ylang ylang (pronounced EE-lang EE-lang) is a tropical tree native to Asia, or the flower of the tree and the essential oil produced from the flowers. The tree is the Cananga odorata, and the oil is extensively used in making perfumes and in aromatherapy.

In parts of the Pacific Rim, ylang ylang, with its heavy and sweet scent similar to jasmine, is associated with weddings and honeymoons. Its essential oil comes in four grades: ylang extra, ylang I, ylang II, and ylang III. The grades vary based on when the oil is removed in the steam distillation process. The lengthier the distillation, which generally can take up to 24 hours, the lighter the scent of the oil — ylang extra has the strongest scent and ylang III has the weakest. All grades have a fairly heavy scent compared to lighter scented oils, so they should be added carefully to a blend. Ylang ylang can easily overpower less exuberant scents.

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The scent of ylang ylang, like jasmine and rose, has long been considered an aphrodisiac. This may account for its popularity in perfume blends. Of course, the so-called aphrodisiac scents also simply smell wonderful, which may be why they are attractive to the opposite sex. In aromatherapy, this scent is used for its stress-relieving properties — a few drops of ylang ylang oil in a hot bath can melt the day's cares quickly away. Some people find the scent overpowering, however, and it may cause headaches in people sensitive to heavy floral scents.

Ylang ylang is also thought to reduce anxiety and perhaps even relieve depression. Sexual dysfunction or simple lack of interest might be addressed with this scent in an aromalamp or blended in a massage oil. Use in perfume recipes that call for jasmine, if your budget cannot support the purchase of the much more costly jasmine essential oil.

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Discuss this Article

anon337268
Post 11

Can't it be used for love spells?

fify
Post 10

@ddljohn-- My sister uses a facial oil to clean blackheads and ylang ylang oil is one of the ingredients. I don't know if pure ylang ylang oil can be used though.

There is also ylang ylang soap that might help with blackheads.

bear78
Post 9

I got a body massage with ylang ylang oil and perfume this past weekend. I felt fine during the massage but a few hours after I got a headache and started feeling very tired, almost like I would faint.

The next day I was also very tired and dehydrated.

I think the headache was caused by the ylang ylang. But the exhaustion and dehydration was probably just the effects of the massage. I'm going to ask my masseuse to avoid ylang ylang oil next time.

ddljohn
Post 8

Does ylang ylang have any benefits for skin?

anon161828
Post 7

@Naturesgurl3: I am a trained aromatherapist and your friend who is a masseuse should not be using any lotion or oils with essential oils in it unless she is trained in aromatherapy.

There is a lot to learn with essential oils and a lot have contraindications and can be harmful. Ylang Ylang does indeed reduce palpitations and blood pressure and if it is being used on someone with low blood pressure then it can be harmful.

yournamehere
Post 6

You do have to be careful to use good ylang ylang oil though -- cheaper ones have been known to cause headaches and nausea.

pleats
Post 5

Some say that ylang ylang essential oil benefits the circulatory system as well.

Apparently it is hypotensive, which means it can lower blood pressure and help with heart palpitations and hypertension.

This, when combined with it's sedative properties, make it an excellent essential oil for treating those with anxiety.

naturesgurl3
Post 4

My friend is a masseuse, and she is big on using ylang ylang body lotion during her massages.

She says the scent not only smells great, but is really good for the skin too, and her clients love it.

CarrotIsland
Post 2

Ylang Ylang has many uses. It has the most wonderful scent! It is often used for stress-related disorders like depression, insomnia, and nervous tension.

It also has skin care uses. It is used to treat acne and irritated skin. Many people still use it as a hair rinse, as well.

GardenTurtle
Post 1

Ylang ylang and anise oils are also used in the treatment of lice infestations.

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