Ylang Ylang Essential Oil


The ylang ylang tree is a local tree to the Philippines as also Indonesia, and its flowers are highly valued for its perfume.

It prefers temperate climates and apart from its native regions, it is also grown in Melanesia, Polynesia, Comoros Islands and Micronesia.


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The tree grows to about 40 feet in height, and it has flowers that grow in a hanging inflorescence. The flowers are very valuable because of their use in aromatherapy.

Ylang ylang essential oil has been used both for massage as well as for aroma therapy for generations, and in this article, we discuss both its benefits and negatives.

Physical properties

Ylang ylang oil is a watery, pale yellow liquid that has a very exotic floral fragrance. It has a very strong smell, and very often, it can give a headache if too much is used.

How to extract

Listed below are the steps on to how to make ylang ylang oil:

  • Ylang ylang oil is extracted by the process of steam distillation, where hot steam is passed through the flowers to break down its cells and release its essential oils.
  • These essential oils are carried with the steam and condensed where they form an immiscible liquid.
  • An immiscible liquid is a mixture of two or more liquids that do not mix completely and can therefore be separated by a process of fractional distillation.
  • The water remaining after the separation of the essential oil is reused.

Chemical composition

Ylang ylang oil has a number of chemical constituents. The main ones are listed below.

  • Methyl salicylate
  • Linalyl acetate
  • Caryophyllene
  • Eugenol
  • Cresol
  • Linalol
  • Cadinene
  • Geraniol
  • Methyl benzoates

Therapeutic applications

Ylang Ylang oil has been used for centuries in its native countries as an aphrodisiac. In Indonesia, ylang ylang flowers were strewed over the beds of newlyweds.  In the Philippines, garlands made of ylang ylang flowers were often used in religious ceremonies; this is because ylang ylang was known to have a very relaxing effect on the body. Additional uses include the following:

  • It is a known antidepressant and sedative and also has hypotensive properties.

    Combined with its relaxing properties, it also has the capacity to lift the spirits and balance hormones.
  • It was commonly used as a tonic for the womb and was used after childbirth to give both mother and child a feeling of closeness and togetherness.
  • It is commonly used in the perfume industry.

Other benefits include use in the following conditions:

  • Hyperpnoea (rapid breathing)
  • Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat)
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Impotence and frigidity

Due to its very strong aroma, ylang ylang essential oil was usually used only in aroma therapy. Dilute concentrations can, however, be used in combination with other oils as ylang ylang massage oil. Studies and research prove that the oil is euphoric, anti-depressive and has sensual properties. Studies have also showed that ylang ylang oil increased alpha wave activity in the brain.

Blends well with

Ylang ylang oil is blended with a number of other essential oils. It is used in the perfume industry as well as for aroma therapy, but usually never individually because of its strong smell. Some of the essential oils with which ylang ylang oil blends well with are rosewood oil, sandalwood oil, lavender oil, jasmine oil, bergamot oil, rose oil, orange oil, Melissa oil, patchouli oil, neroli oil, grapefruit oil, and citronella oil.


Ylang ylang oil is not known to have any adverse side effects. In fact, its very strong smell ensures that it is used in tiny quantities as the floral aroma can very quickly give a headache if used in excess. Ylang ylang oil is not used widely in the West and only now, are its properties becoming known. Studies are only now being conducted into the benefits of ylang ylang oil.

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Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
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