8 Surprising Benefits of Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated -

The health benefits of ylang ylang essential oil can be attributed to its properties as an antidepressant, antiseborrheic, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, nervine, and sedative substance. It is also used for lowering high blood pressure.

This essential oil was not widely known about until very recently, but with thousands of cosmetics products and their advertisements flooding the global media, it soon became a household name and a favorite of aromatherapists.

What is Ylang Ylang Essential Oil?

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 rainforests of certain Asian and South Pacific Islands like Indonesia, Philippines, Java, Sumatra, Comoro, and Polynesia. [1]

The chief components of the essential oil of ylang-ylang are benzyl acetate, benzyl benzoate, linalool, caryophyllene, geranyl acetate, methyl benzoate, p-cresyl methyl ether, and other components known as sesquiterpenes, all of which contribute to its aroma and medicinal properties.

Bottles of ylang ylang oil with ylang ylang flowers

Did you know ylang ylang is pronounced as e-laang e-laang? Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Along with its widespread use in perfumes and aromatherapy treatments due to its very pleasing and delicate fragrance, ylang-ylang essential oil is also used for a variety of medicinal purposes.

What is ylang ylang?

Ylang-ylang is the name of a tree that is native to Indonesia but has been naturalized in many tropical locations. The tree is particularly famed for its flowers, which have a very pleasant aroma. The powerful essential oil that has been linked to several medicinal benefits. Its essential oil is highly sought after for its antioxidants, sesquiterpenes, and other organic compounds that make it so potent.

What does ylang-ylang smell like?

The smell of ylang-ylang is unique and powerful, which is why so many perfumes and cosmetic products feature this tropical flower. The smell is slightly floral, so it is primarily used in women’s beauty products, but it also works as a middle note in men’s care products.

Ylang Ylang Pronunciation

Ylang-ylang is phonetically pronounced EE-lang EE-lang. So, if you’ve been pushing a strong “Y” sound when asking for this oil at your local health food store, now you understand why you got so many funny looks. The word originates from the Pacific Rim nations where this tree, the Cananga odorata, can be naturally found.

Ylang Ylang Uses

There are many popular uses of ylang-ylang. Let us look at some of them below:

  • Ylang-ylang oil is most commonly used as an ingredient in fragrances, perfumes, and cosmetic products, due to its unique and powerful smell.
  • This essential oil is also a popular room freshener and can be used in a diffuser too.
  • You can mix this oil with other carrier oils and apply it to your face to improve blood circulation and reduce the appearance of blemishes.
  • The oil can also be used to boost hair strength and growth.

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil Benefits

Let’s discuss the medicinal properties of ylang-ylang essential oil in detail.


According to research published in 2006, ylang ylang essential oil can relieve depression in humans and is, therefore, often used in aromatherapy. It fights depression and relaxes the body, thereby driving away anxiety, sadness, and chronic stress. It also has an uplifting effect on the mood and induces feelings of joy and hope. It may be an effective treatment for those undergoing nervous breakdowns and acute depression after a shock or an accident. [2]


Seborrhoea or seborrheic eczema is a health condition that is caused due to malfunctioning sebaceous glands. This disorder results in irregular sebum production and the consequent infection of the epidermal cells. It looks very painful, since the white or pale yellow skin, whether it is dry or greasy, starts peeling off. This normally happens on the scalp, cheeks, eyebrows and wherever else hair follicles are found.

A 2017 study on the use of essential oils like ylang-ylang essential oil for the treatment of skin diseases shows that it can be beneficial in curing eczema. It also helps reduce acne, dermatitis, and skin irritation and by regularizing sebum production and treating the infection itself. [3]


Wounds like cuts, abrasions or burns come with a chance of the wound becoming septic from various bacterial infections. Research suggests that the essential oil of ylang-ylang can help avoid sepsis. This property also protects wounds from infections of bacteria, viruses, and fungus. It also speeds up the healing process of the wound. [4]

Anti-inflammatory Properties

A study published in the ‘Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine‘ journal revealed that ylang-ylang exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. [5]


The essential oil derived from ylang-ylang is widely used as an aphrodisiac. This oil can be beneficial for people who have lost interest in sex due to tremendous workload, professional stress, depression, or the effects of pollution. The loss of libido or frigidity is a growing problem in modern life, but relying on natural essential oils like ylang-ylang can help you increase your libido.

Lowers High Blood Pressure

A study published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation on the effects of ylang-ylang on blood pressure states that it is an effective agent for treating hypertension and other heart problems. In recent times, since high blood pressure is a major health epidemic and the drugs for lowering it have serious adverse side effects on health, ylang-ylang oil has proved to be an easy and natural solution. It has no adverse side effects on health if taken in prescribed quantities. [6]


According to research published by Silva MJ, the health benefits of ylang-ylang essential oil include providing relief from stress and anxiety. Studies reveal that ylang ylang oil helps sedate and calm nervous afflictions, stress, anger, and anxiety while inducing a relaxing feeling. [7] [8]


Ylang-ylang essential oil is a health booster for the nervous system. Research on the aroma of ylang ylang essential oil denotes that it helps stimulate the nervous system and repairs any damage it may have suffered. Furthermore, it also reduces stress on the nerves and protects them from developing several nervous disorders. [9] [10]

Other Benefits

Ylang-ylang essential oil can be used to cure infections in internal organs such as the stomach, intestines, colon, and urinary tract. It is also good for people suffering from insomnia, fatigue, and frigidity. It is extremely effective in maintaining moisture and oil balance of the skin and keeps it looking hydrated, smooth, and young.

Word of Caution: Some cases of sensitivity, nausea, and headache have been observed when ylang-ylang essential oil is applied in excessive amounts. When applied in recommended doses, it is non-toxic and is not reported to cause any irritation.

Blending: The essential oil of ylang-ylang blends well with essential oils derived from bergamot, grapefruits, lavender, and sandalwood.

Ylang Ylang Origin

Ylang-ylang has one of the strangest names in the health world, leading many to wonder where it comes from. In the Tagalog language, native to the area where the ylang-ylang tree is found, the word ‘ilang’ means wilderness. The repetition of the second word had a slightly different pronunciation in the native tongue, but we no longer include that in the English version of this flower’s name. [11]

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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