Ylang-Ylang essential oil health benefits & side effects


Ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata Hook. F. & Thomson) oil is obtained by steam distillation from the leaves and yellow flowers of the plant. This oil is an important ingredient of raw material for the perfume industry.

This oil is separated into different grades like First, Second, and Third grade. The first and Second grades are used in cosmetics; Third-grade oil is being used for scenting of soaps. Ylang-ylang oil clear mobile liquids with pale yellowish to darker yellow color, smell depends on the fractions generally medium to the strong initial aroma with fresh, floral, jasmine-like, slightly fruity fragrant yet delicate. Ylang-ylang essential oil benefits are treats anxiety and induces sleep. Also good for heart and skin.

Uses of  Ylang-ylang essential oils

This oil is currently used in cosmetic and household products (massage oils, soaps, skin lotions, moisturizing creams, perfumes, detergents, and even scented candles). Food industry (beverages, ice cream, candies, chewing gums, and baked goods as well as in the perfume industry and aromatherapy also use Ylang-ylang essential oil. The Health benefits of this oil are to treat headaches, eye inflammation, gout (India), enhance euphoria feel during sex, and also reduce sexual anxiety (Indonesia).

Geographical distribution

Ylang-ylang essential oil is native in tropical Asia such as Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and some other islands of the Indian Ocean, mainly Comoros, Mayotte, and Madagascar islands (1).

Common names

Kenanga (Indonesia), Ilang-ilang, alang-ilang (Philippines), Canang odorant (French), Apurvachampaka, chettu sampangi, karumugai (India), Cananga, and cadmia (English).

Constituents of Ylang-ylang essential oil

 Ylang-ylang essential oil contains trans-β-caryophyllene, linalool, germacrene D, benzyl acetate, geranyl acetate, and other components as follows (2).

(E, E)-α-farnesene5.2-28.9%
Germacrene D11.7-26.4%
Benzyl acetate0.3-16.9%
Benzyl benzoate2.7-14.0%
Linalool  0.1-13.5%
Geranyl acetate0.8-11.8%
Pcresyl methyl ether3.5-11.4%
Methyl benzoate0.8-6.0 %
C-cadinene2.2-5.6 %
(E)-cinnamyl acetate1.3-5.6 %
(E, E)-farnesyl acetate1.2-5.5%

Health benefits of Ylang-ylang oil

Ylang-ylang essential oil benefits are used in depression, breathing problems, hypertension, and anxiety. Let’s take a closer look at some of these proven health benefits below.

1. Relaxing and sedative properties of Ylang-ylang oil

Ylang-ylang oil 1 mL of 20% in sweet almond oil application on the skin is beneficial to reduce blood pressure, pulse rate and increase skin temperature. Thus person feels more calm, relaxed, relief of depression and stress (3).  While inhalation of this oil increases attentiveness and alertness (4).

2. Antibiofilm properties of ylang-ylang oil

Staphylococcus aureus is a major human pathogen that develops biofilm formation for resistance to antibiotics. However, ylang-ylang oil contains cis-nerolidol which inhibits S. aureus biofilm formation (5).

3. Ylang-ylang oil Treats anxiety

Aromatherapy with ylang-ylang oil shows a wonderful effect on brain serotonin metabolism and reduced the blood plasma corticosterone level. Therefore, it results in the reduction of anxiety. As it contains benzyl benzoate, linalool, and benzyl alcohol which is helpful to treat anxiety problems (6,7).

4. Inhaling Ylang-ylang oil keeps the heart-healthy

Ylang-ylang oil (3 drops) for 20 min inhalation decreases the systolic and diastolic blood pressure. This oil also reduces heart rate and relief the arousal level in healthy men (8).

Aromatherapy with ylang-ylang, lavender, and bergamot once daily for 4 weeks is helpful to reduce blood pressure, the stress of the hypertension patient (9).

Moreover, inhalation of lavender, ylang-ylang, marjoram, and neroli (20 : 15 : 10 : 2) alleviates cardiac excitation, lowers BP, alleviates palpitations and nervous system excitation, and promotes emotional relaxation  (10).

5. Insecticidal properties of Ylang-ylang oil

It contains a good amount of linalool which shows insecticide effect against nymphs of Ixodes ricinus. Also effective on some human ectoparasites like lice, mites, housefly and mosquitos like Aedes aegypti, Anopheles dirus, and Culex quinquefasciatus (99.4 %, 97.1 %, and 100 %) (11). Therefore, this oil shows wonderful acaricidal activity potentially useful in the control of ticks (12).

6. Muscle Relaxant properties of Ylang-ylang oil

Linalool of Ylang-ylang oil acts as an antibiotic and suppresses muscle spasms (antispasmodic properties). Thus this oil has vasodilator properties and a relaxing effect on smooth muscle, urinary bladder muscle (13).

7. Healthy skin

Ylang-ylang oil is useful to treat various dermatitis conditions. Its antimicrobial compounds are effective against acne, balancing sebum, dermatitis, eczema. This oil is also good for general care, greasy and oily conditions, insect bites.

This oil also inhibits the growth of many fungi like Candida albicans, Rhizopus oryzae, Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus fumigates, Aspergillus krusli, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Rhodotorula glutinis, Schizosaccharomyces pombe, and Yarrowia lipolytica (14).

8. Induce sleep

Inhalation of equal parts of Lavandin Super, bergamot, and ylang-ylang combination for five nights improve sleep quality and sleep time in cardiac rehabilitation patients. Therefore, it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. The presence of Benzyl acetate, an ester of benzyl alcohol and acetic acid in ylang-ylang oil regulates the nervous system induces a relaxation effect in cardiac patients (15).

9. Presence of antioxidants

Sesquiterpenoids, found in ylang-ylang oil act as natural antioxidants which are potent scavengers of free radicals and inhibit nitric oxide thus helpful for the treatment of some diseases associated with oxidative stress (16).

10. Anti-inflammatory properties of ylang-ylang oil

Linalool and Linalyl acetate obtained from ylang-ylang oil reduce swelling and infected wound area (17). This oil also inhibits collagen formation thus reduce inflammation and wound healing potential (18).

Side effects of Ylang-ylang oil

Ylang-ylang oil is safe according to the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) approved safe.

Consumption of ylang-ylang oil food flavoring agent (0.0001 mg/kg/day) normally did not represent a risk to human health thus intake of this oil at the current level is considered safe for human consumption (19).

1. Dermal sensitization

Some reports suggested causing dermal sensitization reactions in animals and humans, but it is unclear what constituent(s) within the essential oil comprise the offending agent(s) and whether some Ylang-Ylang oils that have had a certain constituent(s) removed are any less prone to cause such allergic reactions.

2. Risk of melanosis/dermatitis

Ylang-ylang oil sometimes causes facial melanosis and dermatitis or erythema which is due to the allergy to ylang-ylang oil thus precaution should be needed (20).

Super Summary

Ylang-ylang essential oil benefits are it treats anxiety, induces sleep, and relaxing in nature. aromatherapy with Ylang-ylang oil is good and soothing for the body. Besides this, the oil has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial properties. This oil is also good for the heart and skin. 

Edited By: Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati

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