Cananga odorata, also known as ylang-ylang, perfume tree, cadmia or cananga, is a plant that belongs to a genus of flowering trees in the annonacea family.
The perfume tree is a tropical plant native to Indonesia and the Philippines but has been introduced to other regions including North America for commercial reasons. The plant’s flowers are credited with producing high-value essential oil fondly known as ylang-ylang. The oil is used to make world-famous perfumes including Joy Perfume and Chanel No.5. Basically, ylang-ylang oil is extracted from the flowers of the shrub via steam distillation.
Linalool, a main component of the oil, is said to have properties that reduce stress. This explains why ylang-ylang oil is considered an ideal therapy for combating anxiety-related problems. When inhaled or absorbed via the skin, studies show that it sends signals to the part of the brain that controls emotions, which is also responsible for influencing the nervous system.
According to a study conducted in 2006 and published in Phytotherapy Research journal, researchers realized that ylang-ylang oil assisted the subjects in reducing blood pressure and enhancing relaxation as well as lifting moods.
The oil is also popular in aromatherapy for its aphrodisiac qualities which make it ideal for boosting libido and improving sensuality. Ylang-ylang oil is soothing, calms frayed nerves, eases tension and uplifts moods. While pharmaceutical drugs or herbs for enhancing sensuality are ingested in order to work, ylang-ylang takes a shorter, more convenient route. The oil is absorbed into the body by inhaling or massaging into the skin.
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When inhaled or massaged into the skin, the scent is absorbed into the body and eventually reaches the region of the brain that regulates libido known as the limbic system. The limbic system controls emotions such as anger and pleasure. It also controls drives such as romance, care, hunger, and dominance. Apart from appealing to the limbic system, it stimulates the pituitary gland, which is the part responsible for regulating the production of hormones.
When used for cosmetic purposes, ylang-ylang oil regulates and balances the production of natural oils by the skin. It also soothes and alleviates irritation and inflammation while enhancing circulation and inducing the growth of new skin cells including hair follicles.
Apart from its use in aromatherapy, ylang-ylang oil is also used to treat various sicknesses because it contains antimicrobial, anti-oxidant and anti-fungal properties.
It is not every day that you encounter a plant that is famous for its blossoms but not because the blooms are excellent in the cut flower industry. Instead, the flowers are used to make world-famous oils that are highly therapeutic. But then these are the qualities that make ylang-ylang unique.