What is Ylang Ylang Essential Oil?

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  • Written By: H. Bliss
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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Ylang ylang essential oil is an extract of the cananga, or kenanga, plant, a shrub with fragrant yellow flowers and petals that look like fingers on hands. Usually used as a fragrance in perfumes, ylang ylang oil can also be used for medicinal purposes. In English-speaking countries, ylang ylang is usually pronounced EE-lang EE-lang. In herbal medicine, ylang ylang essential oil is a major ingredient in traditional oil preparations used to treat head lice, though usually administered mixed with other oils like eucalyptus oil, anise oil, and coconut oil.

In aromatherapy, ylang ylang essential oil is used as a calming and relaxation agent. Aromatherapy is the practice of applying essential oils to the body to bring about healing through the scent and bodily absorption of the essential oils. Therapeutic essential oils are usually administered by applying them to be absorbed through the skin, often through the soles of the feet.


Essential oil is concentrated plant essence, the basic fragrance used to give scent to many perfumes, and can also be called volatile oil. Because most essential oils are distilled from the plant rather than pressed out of the plant, the feel of an essential oil is quite unlike that of common oils like cooking oils. Essential oils absorb into the skin quickly, and are not slippery like fatty oils. If a ylang ylang oil preparation is slippery, it is likely that it has been blended with other, fattier oils, a common practice due to the generally high price of ylang ylang essential oil.

Though ylang ylang essential oil is an aromatherapy treatment and folk remedy thought to help with a variety of conditions, including dandruff and scalp parasites, scientific proof of its effectiveness is limited. Side effects experienced by users of ylang ylang essential oil are generally mild and include nausea and headaches. These symptoms are most often triggered by overuse or overdose of ylang ylang essential oil therapeutic treatment. Usually, if the scent of ylang ylang is overpowering to the aromatherapy patient, it means too much ylang ylang is being used.

Essential oils can differ in quality grade, depending on the essential oil manufacturer and the intended use of the oil. Therapeutic grade oil is created with standards that ensure that the correct plant is being used for the essential oil and that the essential oil is prepared with methods that preserve the health benefits of the essential oil. These types of essential oils are produced with techniques geared toward preventing heat and processing degradation or contamination that can affect the quality and properties of the oil.


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Post 3

@SarahGen-- I completely agree with your last point. In my experience, ylang ylang essential oils vary from brand to brand. Some are very good and smell great and calming. But others are too strong and smell awful. I'm not sure how there could be such a drastic difference but I urge everyone to actually try the product before buying it. So buy from a health foods store so that you can test it first.

Post 2

@literally45-- No, like the article said ylang ylang is "cananga odorata." It's a complete different plant and as far as I know, they're not related at all.

I don't know if the scents are similar. Ylang ylang essential oil is very floral and exotic. It kind of reminds me of jasmine. But I must say that the essential oil is more potent than other products with a ylang ylang scent. So only a very small amount is needed and a small bottle goes a long way.

Ylang ylang is wonderful for stress. So I like to dilute the oil with a carrier oil and keep it with me in a small bottle. When I'm not feeling my best, I dab a little bit on to my wrists and it relaxes me and calms me down. Too much ylang ylang can actually bring on a headache, so make sure to dilute it like I do.

Post 1

Is ylang ylang the same thing as or similar to honeysuckle? I know that in some languages honeysuckle (lonicera etrusca) is referred o as "female hands." The description of ylang ylang as "fingers on hands" sounds very similar.

If these two are anything alike, I'm sure that ylang ylang smells divine. Honeysuckle smells amazing. It's one of my favorite flavors. Like the name suggests, it's sweet and floral and not too overwhelming.

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