What Is Ylang Ylang?


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Jun 07, 2023

What Is Ylang Ylang?

phetphu / Getty images Medically reviewed by Arno Kroner, DAOM Ylang ylang essential oil is derived from the fragrant ylang ylang flower, which grows on the Cananga odorata tree. The tree is found in

phetphu / Getty images

Medically reviewed by Arno Kroner, DAOM

Ylang ylang essential oil is derived from the fragrant ylang ylang flower, which grows on the Cananga odorata tree. The tree is found in Indo-Pacific countries like the Philippines, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, India, and Australia.

For many years, ylang ylang has been used in the food, perfume, and cosmetic industries, as well as in traditional medicine and aromatherapy. Some research suggests ylang ylang oil can be used to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression, and to lower blood pressure and heart rate.

When first trying ylang ylang oil, there are a few precautions and steps to take to help minimize side effects and reap the potential benefits.

Due to its unique, intense scent, ylang ylang oil has been used in several commercial industries. For example, it’s an ingredient in many fragrances, soaps, lotions, and shampoos. It’s also been used as a food additive and an insecticide.

Ylang ylang oil is also commonly used in aromatherapy as a treatment for symptoms of anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Known for its sedative and calming effects, ylang ylang may help to decrease blood pressure, relieve stress, and promote an overall sense of well-being.

Finally, ylang ylang is used in some medicinal traditions as a natural remedy (often dried or made into a paste and applied directly to the skin) for the following conditions:

Gastrointestinal issues

Gout (a type of inflammatory arthritis)




Respiratory problems


Research on the potential health benefits of ylang ylang is limited and ongoing. Still, there is some evidence to suggest the use of ylang ylang, either when inhaled or applied topically, could benefit people with certain conditions.

Recent studies have shown ylang ylang:

Has a calming effect. Multiple studies have found ylang ylang has a relaxing sedative effect. It has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate in healthy men. It has also been found to have mood-boosting, stress-relieving, and antidepressant properties.

May have antimicrobial properties. Early studies suggest ylang ylang may have an antimicrobial effect, especially when combined with other medicinal herbs and plants. This may indicate ylang ylang could help treat certain bacterial or fungal infections.

May have anti-inflammatory properties. Some animal and in vitro (test tube) studies indicate ylang ylang has an anti-inflammatory effect. It could be helpful in treating certain autoimmune or chronic pain conditions that cause or are worsened by inflammation. Another animal-based study found ylang ylang reduced neuroinflammation and pain-related anxiety in mice.

Ylang ylang is also sometimes used as an aphrodisiac, but there is not yet sufficient evidence to determine whether or not it actually increases sexual desire or boosts sexual performance.

The main documented side effect associated with ylang ylang is a skin reaction called erythema. Erythema typically involves irritation, inflammation, and a red rash. This may be because ylang ylang oil contains isoeugenol, a substance to which many people are allergic.

Other potential allergens in ylang ylang include alpha-farnesene, benzyl acetate, and linalool.

Allergic reactions are especially common among people who apply ylang ylang oil to their skin, such as in cosmetic products or perfume. People who are allergic to any component of ylang ylang oil may experience photosensitivity (light sensitivity) or eye-related symptoms, such as itching and irritation, in addition to contact sensitivity.

Ylang ylang oil is an ingredient in a wide variety of products, but it’s not safe for everyone. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re planning to use it:

Use ylang ylang sparingly at first if you have sensitive skin.

Don’t use ylang ylang if you are allergic to any of its components or if you’ve had previous allergic reactions to essential oils.

Keep all essential oils, including ylang ylang, out of reach of young children.

Talk to your healthcare provider before using ylang ylang oil to treat any medical condition.

Don’t use essential oils if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Keep ylang ylang away from your pets. Ylang ylang is toxic to cats and dogs, both when ingested and when it touches their skin.

Follow these tips to use ylang ylang oil safely and effectively:

If you haven’t used it before, conduct a “patch test” first on a small area of your skin to make sure you don’t have an adverse reaction.

It is important to dilute a very small amount of ylang ylang essential oil with a carrier oil before massaging it into your skin.

Inhale ylang ylang oil (mixed with water) either indirectly or directly by using a room diffuser or individual inhaler.

Derived from the yellow flowers on the Cananga odorata tree native to the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and parts of Australia, ylang ylang essential oil is used in fragrances and cosmetic products as well as aromatherapy and traditional medicine.

Research about the benefits of ylang ylang oil is still somewhat limited. However, some evidence shows ylang ylang oil can be beneficial in treating hypertension, anxiety, depression, and inflammatory conditions.

Some people may be allergic to certain components in ylang ylang oil. Make sure to test patch the oil and dilute it before applying it to your skin. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns about using ylang ylang oil.

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Read the original article on Health.

Medically reviewed by Arno Kroner, DAOMHas a calming effect.May have antimicrobial properties.May have anti-inflammatory properties.