Essential oils can be used for many home remedies, personal care and cleaning products in place of pharmaceuticals and commercial products that contain toxic substances. However, since I am chemically sensitive, it is even a challenge to find the oils I can tolerate.
I absolutely hate lavender. I know it is one of the most commonly used and loved oils.
But even a mild sniff of lavender cuts through my sinuses and even when lavender is blended, I can still smell it a mile away.
When I first started with essential oils I ordered a kit with lots of different oils. I was very upset when I realized I could not tolerate more than half of them.
And even the ones I do tolerate, I don’t like having a fragrance around me all the time.
I’ll tell you my favorite – it is ylang ylang (phonetically pronounced ee-lang ee-lang). I find the fragrance very mild, sweet and bright and it really impacts my outlook on the day.
I can take a sniff right from the bottle and immediately feel relaxation. I like to rub a drop on the bottom of my feet before bed and this works better (for me) than lavender for a good night’s sleep.
The essential oil of ylang-ylang is extracted by steam distillation of fresh flowers of the ylang-ylang tree, (Cananga Odorata). It is commonly found in the rain forests of Asian and South Pacific Islands such as, Indonesia, Philippines, Java, Sumatra, Comoro and Polynesia.
Ylang ylang has a slightly flora fragrance, which I find very bright and uplifting! When I smell ylang ylang, it brings me to a mountain top meadow of flowers on a warm sunny day.
Sounds corny, but the fragrance of an essential oil can have a very powerful effect on the mind and mood.
The main health benefits involve the nervous system, as it is an antidepressant, hypotensive, nervine and sedative substance.
This 2009 review of rodent studies show the anti-anxiety effects of essential oils.
Importantly, this 2011 review of human studies show a positive outcome using aromatherapy. The researchers concluded,
It is recommended that aromatherapy could be applied as a complementary therapy for people with anxiety symptoms. Further studies with better quality on methodology should be conducted to identify its clinical effects and the underlying biologic mechanisms.
Antidepressant – Ylang ylang helps with anxiety, depression, stress and sadness. As I explained above, the brightening effect it has on me can be extraordinary.
Hypotensive – Ylang ylang can help lower blood pressure. It is certainly something to try, perhaps along with other blood pressure lowering holistic approaches. It is well known that pharmaceuticals for lowering blood pressure can have strong adverse effects for some people.
Sedative – Ylang ylang has a sedative, relaxing and calming effect on anxiety and chronic stress. It can certainly be used during acute bouts of anxiety.
Nervine – Ylang ylang strengthens the nervous system and may even help repair any damage to the nerve tissue.
There are other benefits to ylang ylang, such as antiseborrhoeic, antiseptic, aphrodisiac effects, but I wanted to focus on the calming effect it has, because that is my own personal experience with it.