Ylang ylang is indigenous to Indonesia, the Philippines, Java and Madagascar. Madagascar is one of the main sources of the essential oil, which is also produced in Reunion and the Comoro islands. The tree grows to a height of approximately 65 feet (19.8 meters), and it is from the large yellow or pink fragrant flowers of the tree that the oil is extracted. The yellow flowers are considered superior to the pink ones for purposes of oil extraction.
The flowers have a long history of use in skin care and in the prevention of infection. The aphrodisiac properties of the flower have been appreciated for many hundreds of years, and in Indonesia ylang ylang blooms were traditionally scattered on the beds of newly-wed couples on their wedding night.
The flowers are steam distilled to produce the essential oil. A total of four distillations take place. The product of the first distillation is known as ylang ylang extra and is the most expensive and the highest quality. The three following distillates, known as grades I, II and III, are progressively diminished in complexity and quality. Ylang ylang oil was an ingredient of macassar oil, which was very popular in Victorian times as a treatment for the scalp, stimulating hair growth. The oil is pale yellow and has a powerful sweet, floral fragrance that has a hint of spiciness. It is similar in many respects to jasmine oil.
Ylang ylang oil is used extensively in the perfume industry and also in the manufacture of cosmetics, soaps and toiletries. Ylang ylang extra is the oil sought after for high quality perfume production.
This essential oil has many uses in aromatherapy. It has a sedative effect on the nervous system and will calm anxiety and help with problems of insomnia. It will help relieve feelings of depression, especially if these are stress induced. Because of the strength of the fragrance, which can become overpowering and in some cases can cause headaches and/or nausea, ylang ylang is best used well diluted.
In bathing, room perfuming or in massage, particularly in sensual massage, the aphrodisiac properties of the oil can be used to good effect, encouraging relaxation and enjoyment.
Ylang ylang also benefits the circulatory system and can calm palpitations and help to lower raised blood pressure. It will also help to treat hyperpnoea (excessive breathing after exercise).
Suitable Methods of Use
Generally safe to use – nontoxic, non-sensitizing, nonirritant. Can cause headaches and nausea if used in strong dilutions.