Upon first glance, ylang-ylang looks like it should be the name of a baby panda or maybe a nonsensical phrase from a Motown song!
“He’s so fine (ya lang ya lang ya lang). He’s all mine (ya lang ya lang ya lang)…”
While it could easily be either of those, ylang-ylang is actually one of my favorite essential oils. (The “y” isn’t usually pronounced.) Where does it come from, what does it do, and—for crying out loud—why does it have such a weird and repetitive name?
First things first: the name comes from the Philippines, where the cananga odorata (also ilang-ilang—Tagalog for wilderness) tree grows wild. Related to the custard apple, the tree produces six-petaled, greenish-yellow flowers that yield a yummy, highly-fragrant essential oil.
A Little Background
In Indonesia and the Philippines, ylang-ylang flowers are often spread across beds of newlyweds or woven into loose necklaces. One reason behind these uses might be its reputed aphrodisiacal effects! I don’t know about that, but I do know the flowers look and smell beautiful. Who wouldn’t love to have them adorn their bed or décolletage? And if it does have that other effect, well, I’m all right with that!
As with all essential oils, ylang-ylang offers a variety of properties and uses, and it can be combined with other ingredients for myriad different uses. This one supports heart and circulatory health, regulated blood pressure, and positive moods while also helping to combat PMS, stimulating digestion, and protecting cells and tissues from damage.
Of course, we also love it for its skin and hair-enhancing properties.
Mix a couple drops of ylang-ylang essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba and massage into hair and scalp. It will add shine, help to minimize tangles, could possibly help with dandruff, and has also been known to thicken hair and actually reduce hair loss!
Ylang-ylang can also be blended with other essential oils for unique fragrances as well as various effects:
- Try it with jasmine for a delightfully tropical scent.
- Blend a couple drops of ylang-ylang with a couple drops of lavender and massage into neck and abdomen to reduce PMS symptoms. Better yet, have someone else do this for you!
- Use ylang-ylang along with a bit of sandalwood in a diffuser to add an earthy, relaxing scent to your home or bath.
Therapeutic-grade ylang-ylang can be added to tea, juice, or water for additional health benefits, but of course, be sure to consult your doctor.
Because it’s exotic, versatile, and enticingly fragrant, we are sure you will find many wonderful uses for ylang-ylang. You might even love it enough to write a song or maybe even name your next pet (probably not a panda, though) Ylang-Ylang.
Do you prefer floral or earthy scents? Have you ever used ylang-ylang? We’d love to hear from you!