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Ylang Ylang Essential Oil Uses, Benefits and Warnings

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

What is Ylang Ylang Essential Oil?

Ylang Ylang essential oil is a substance extracted from the petals of the flower that grows in the tree scientifically called Cananga Odorata. Its common name ylang ylang comes from the Austronesian language taglo, which means feral (related to its natural habitat).

In Indonesia ylang ylang means “flower of flowers”.

This oil has an intense yellow color, and a floral and sweet balsamic aroma with notes of neroli, jasmine, gum and cream.

Due to its composition, it is highly appreciated in the cosmetic industry, especially in the production of French perfumes. It is listed as the main ingredient in the manufacture of the famous perfume Chanel N° 5.

A perennial tree from the Philippines, India and Java, where it is known as Cananga. It belongs to the annonaceous family, which consists of more than 300 species.

It is characterized for being a fast growth tree, that exceeds 5 meters in height, being able to reach up to 12 meters. It has a grayish white smooth bark, broad crown and hanging branches up to 5 meters long.  Ylang Ylang tree has yellow flowers that grow in axillary clusters (inflorescences), stuck to the axilla of the leaf.

Its star-shaped flowers have small glands at the base, which contain essential oil with a pleasant floral aroma.

Origin of Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

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Originally from Malaysia, it is grown in Sumatra, Java (Indonesia), Reunion (France), Comoros Islands and Madagascar, specifically in the Indian Ocean.

Ylang Ylang tree is found in the Seychelles, Tahiti, Mauritius and the Philippines, where the best oil comes from.

Until the middle of 1900, the Philippines had a monopoly on this oil, which was sometimes called the “jasmine of the poor”.

History of Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

The terminology ylang ylang, “flower of flowers” comes from the Malay language “Alang-ilang”, which means “the way they hang”.

In the southern islands, the women put in their hair a mixture of ylang ylang and coconut oil, to take care of it and keep it healthy.

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

Over the years, it has been used in Europe to make hair tonic known as Macassar oil; so from there, the anti-macassar cloths were invented for the backs of the chairs, to avoid staining them with oil.

In Indonesia there is a tradition of covering the bed with ylang ylang petals on wedding day. This custom is due to the aphrodisiac qualities of ylang ylang oil.

Ylang Ylang oil has also been used in natural medicine to treat malaria. Currently, it is widely used in the production of premium perfumes.

Chemical composition of Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

Ylang Ylang essential oil contains: benzoic acid, alpha-pinene, caryophyllene, cadinen, methyl salicylate, methyl-benzoate, methyl-paracretol, eugenol, p-cresol, linalool, geraniol, methyl anthranilate, monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, alkaloids, lactones and flavonoids: gossypol.

The active compounds in ylang ylang oil include various types of flavonoids, terpenes, o-methyl-moschatolin, liriodenine and dihydroxybenzoic acid. The pleasant fragrance of ylang ylang is mainly due to these volatile organic compounds produced by the flowers.

How is Ylang Ylang Essential Oil extracted?

An interesting fact is that the quality of ylang ylang oil depends mainly on the cultivation of the flowers that are used, specifically, the time of  the day they are picked.

It is believed that the flowers collected in the early morning, produce the most beneficial oil, since the flowers are pollinated by moths at night.

Drop in temperature and humidity that may occur at night, can also have positive effects on the chemical structure of the oil. The most intense aroma is released from dusk to dawn, and when the sun rises, the natural fragrance of the flowers fills the air.

The 14-hours distillation process to extract ylang ylang essential oil, also affects its potency and capabilities. Steam distillation is the preferred method, since it best conserves the volatile compounds in the oil.

During the distillation process, it is believed that the proportion of oil that is extracted first, is that of highest quality among  the entire batch.

This is often called “full ylang ylang” or “extra ylang ylang”.

As the distillation process is repeated, lower quality oil is produced. This is the type commonly called “ylang ylang oil” or “Cananga oil” which is used in fragrant soaps and in the manufacture of cleaning products.

Properties of Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

The known properties contained in ylang ylang oil are:

  • Hypotensive
  • Hair tonic
  • Antispasmodic
  • Sedative of the nervous system
  • Astringent
  • Balancing
  • Repellent
  • Anxiolytic
  • Antidepressant
  • Soothing
  • Stimulating
  • Relaxing
  • Hypnotic
  • Analgesic
  • Regenerative 
  • Anti-inflammatory

Uses and Benefits of Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

Among the common uses of ylang ylang oil are:

Effective Hypotensive

Known for improving blood flow and fighting inflammation, ylang ylang essential oil helps us maintain a healthy circulatory system. In addition,  improves circulation and helps regulate the hearth rate.

It is considered one of the preferred essential oils (along with lavender, sage and frankincense) to control blood pressure and prevent cardiac arrhythmia.

Favors the nervous system

Because it controls stress, anxiety, nervousness and depression, it helps reduce palpitations due to overreaction. In addition, it improves mood because of its ability to act directly on the brain’s olfactory system.

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The inhalation of ylang ylang oil can have immediate and positive effects on your mood, and act as a natural remedy for mild depression.

It is said to help “expand the heart”, and research shows that it can help release negative emotions, such as anger, low self-esteem and jealousy.

Fights diabetes

Prevents damage to the nerves, which can contribute to the complications observed in patients with diabetes.

Terpenoids and flavonoids in the ylang ylang essential oil, have been shown to act as inhibitors of aldose reductase, according to a 2014 report published in the Journal of Natural Medicines.

Aldose reductase inhibitors, have recently been studied as a way to prevent eyes and nerves damage in people with diabetes.

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Cosmetic uses

Thanks to its pleasant fragrance, it is widely used in the cosmetic industry to make perfumes, face creams, soaps, shampoos and body lotions.

It is also a common ingredient in hair care products, natural acne treatments and tonics for nail care.

Skin health and care

  • Effective against wrinkles, fine lines and blemishes, making it possible to lighten them noticeably.
  • Acts as a regenerator of aged, damaged and dry skin.
  • In the case of dry skins, provides the necessary hydration to prevent scaling or cracking.
  • Thanks to its regenerative properties, it helps to treat scars and spots.
  • It has properties that regulate excess fat in the skin, as well as helps control acne. It can be used together with the personal care cream, it will reinforce its benefits.
  • Added to body lotions to perform massages, helps prevent the formation of stretch marks.

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

Skin cancer

Studies show, that high quality ylang ylang essential oil has a high percentage of active components called terpenoids. Derivatives isolated from terpenoids (including canangaterpenes IV-VI) show promising results as natural therapeutic agents for the treatment of various skin disorders.

When tested on skin cancer cells,  terpenoid compounds exhibited a potent inhibitory effect on cell melanogenesis and cytotoxicity of the immune system.

In other words, the antioxidants in ylang ylang oil helped protect skin cells from oxidative stress and DNA damage that can lead to cancer cells development.

Reinforces the organism against bacteria and fungi

Scientists from the Department of Phytochemical Research at the University of Rajshahi in Bangladesh, found that the phytochemicals contained in ylang ylang oil also possess antibacterial, antifungal and cytotoxic activity when used topically or internally in humans.

These can help improve immune function and reduce inflammation, which is one of the main causes of many diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and cognitive disorders.


Ylang ylang essential oil  provides excellent results in aromatherapy thanks to its anxiolytic, antidepressant, soothing, stimulating, relaxing, hypnotic and sedative properties; so it helps to relax the central nervous system, calming emotional states such as anger and jealousy.

In addition, it stimulates positive feelings, relieves insomnia and calms anxiety, shyness and sadness.

This is used as an environmental infusion through a diffuser. Ideally, choose a resting place or, the quietest place in the home, so that the aroma is deeply inhaled, and when it reaches the brain, it causes the desired tranquilizing effect.


In addition to its relaxing properties and its exquisite aroma, the essential oil of ylang ylang has enhancing properties, and as such, it is very used to perform massages.

Integral health

Efficient against insect bites, acts positively on the nervous system, is energizing, muscle relaxant, aphrodisiac and tranquilizer.  Besides, It acts as an antispasmodic, controlling muscle aches or muscle contracture.

Hair care

Its corcuminoid and beta-carotene components nourish the scalp, preventing hair loss, dandruff and seborrhea. Also, helps avoid split ends and strengthens hair health, being an excellent hair tonic.

Pest and insect repellent

When added to cleaning products, it helps keep the home disinfected and repels insects.

According to a 2014 report published in the Journal of Experimental Botanic, the floral aroma of ylang ylang is a key factor in plant-insect interaction and is vitale for the success of pollination, as it repels pests and insects.

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Ylang ylang oil has plant hormones (phytohormones), similar to human hormones, which promote breast growth. In addition, it helps restore the appearance and firmness that has been affected by breastfeeding or weight loss.

For best results, mix ylang ylang oil, almond oil and geranium oil, apply with gentle massages around the breasts (without applying it to the nipple) preferably in the morning and at night.

Remedy for menstrual pains

Aromatherapy or massage with ylang ylang oil may be useful to reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

To apply a natural remedy to menstrual cramps, tension and stress, you can apply ylang ylang oil, blended with lavender essential oil behind the neck and in the lower abdomen.


It has been shown that ylang ylang essential oil acts as a natural remedy for impotence, since it can increase libido in men and women.

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Used with a diffuser, inhaled directly from the bottle, added to body lotion, or applied in a small amount on the sheets or shirt collar, it will be enough to obtain its effect.

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Can Ylang Ylang Essential Oil be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding?

Because the level of safety of using ylang ylang oil during pregnancy is not known, it is not recommended to use it.

As with pregnancy, the use of ylang ylang oil during the breastfeeding period is not recommended either, because it is not known how safe and beneficial it can be at that stage.

How to apply Ylang Ylang Essential Oil


The oil can be diffused through the house using a diffuser or it can be inhaled directly from the bottle.


Ylang ylang essential oil must be diluted in a carrier oil such as coconut oil or sweet almond oil in a ratio of 1: 1 before applying it to the skin.

Always do a skin sensitivity test before using it on large or sensitive areas of the skin. A patch test can be performed on the skin of the arm or feet to make sure you do not experience skin sensitivity.


It is only recommended to use very high quality oil brands. Check the ingredients carefully, and look only for Cananga odorata (ylang ylang) flower oil.

Only use 100 percent pure therapeutic grade essential oils if you add a drop to the water or take it as a dietary supplement by mixing it with honey or in a shake. It is recognized as safe by the FDA (21CFR182.20) when using small amounts internally, but a therapeutic-grade oil can be difficult to find due to marketing and labeling restrictions if care is not taken. The safest way is to buy ylang ylang essential oil whole or extra.

Ylang ylang oil works well with other essential oils such as rose essential oil, lavender essential oil, frankincense essential oil, jasmine essential oil and bergamot essential oil. Depending on your condition and what you want to use it for, it can fulfill both relaxing and stimulating functions. 

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil Uses and Benefits

Contraindications and risks when using Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

  • Avoid its use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, because there are not enough data to say that it is 100% safe. In addition, its sweet smell can cause uncontrollable nausea.
  • It should not be applied to children under 6 years old.
  • Do not use in patients who have hypersensitivity to the components.
  • For people undergoing cardiac, low blood pressure, anticoagulant or thrombosis treatments, its use is not recommended, since it may increase adverse effects.
  • Patients who have suffered a dermatitis episode should also avoid its use, because it can cause irritation, burns and blisters.
  • Ylang ylang oil should be used sparingly either internally or topically. It is recommended to try on a portion of skin before using on the face, skin or swallow.

Where to buy Ylang Ylang Essential Oil?

Usually, good quality oils, that is, 100% pure and not mixed with other substances, can be found in specialized natural herb stores.

If you can not reach a trusted naturist or herbalist shop near you, here are some recommendation for you:

Ylang YlangYlang Ylang 3rd Essential Oil
Perfect for use in perfumes, your diffuser, baths, and massage.

Scent Characteristics: Fresh, floral, sweet, slightly fruity scent.

Our 100% Pure Essential Oils are extracted from the root, bark, wood, seed, fruit, leaf, or flower of a freshly harvested plant.
We source only the finest quality essential oils from highly regarded suppliers and distillers from around the world, many with whom we’ve worked with for decades.
Many of our oils are steam-distilled or cold-pressed, therefore retaining the essential odor, aroma, taste, medicinal, and therapeutic properties of the plant, resulting in a superior quality, and highly concentrated essence.  Shop here.


Tips for a better performance and duration of your oils:

  • Store them in a dark glass bottle, never plastic, not even when blended with a carrier oil.
  • Keep them in cool, dark places, away from sources of heat and light.
  • Maintain the container that holds it tightly closed, since they are very volatile and also, their properties would be lost or modified.

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