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Ylang ylang is an essential oil from the flowers of the cananga tree, which is native to India and other parts of Asia and Australia. The name comes from the Tagalog word ilang, meaning wilderness. Ylang ylang is part of various perfumes and scents, but the essential oil has many purported health benefits.

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Ylang Ylang Can Benefit Mood

Research shows ylang ylang has positive psychological benefits, including anti-depressant properties and mood-enhancing effects. This means it could help reduce stress and anxiety and boost positive emotions such as optimism and joy. Some studies also indicate the scent can promote calmness and relaxation.

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Ylang Ylang Can Lower Blood Pressure

Ylang ylang may help support the cardiovascular system, which experts believe it accomplishes by reducing blood pressure and the heart rate. In addition to overall physical health and possibly even hypertension, this is another way the flower can alleviate stress and anxiety. This does not mean people with high blood pressure should cease other medications and use ylang ylang exclusively, however. Speak to a doctor about incorporating the oil as a supplementary treatment if you are interested in more natural options.

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Improve Hair Health

Massaging ylang ylang oil into the scalp can help nourish the hair by stimulating the production of sebum, an oily substance produced by glands in the skin that moisturizes hair and keeps it shiny and healthy. Some shampoos and other hair products contain ylang ylang.

ylang ylang nourishes hair sebum proxyminder / Getty Images
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Ylang Ylang Nourishes Skin

Ylang ylang works similarly on the skin, encouraging sebum production to prevent dryness due to a lack of natural oil. Keeping the skin moisturized could help reduce the signs of aging, so ylang ylang could contribute to younger-looking skin. Healthy sebum production can also prevent pimples and other unwanted marks.

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Ylang Ylang Could Kill Head Lice

Some research shows a combination of ylang ylang, coconut, and anise oils is beneficial for the treatment of head lice. It appears to be as effective as alternative treatments containing bug-killing chemicals. This may again be due to the oil's ability to increase sebum production, which makes it difficult for lice eggs to attach to the hair.

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Anti-Bacterial Properties

Ylang ylang may have bacteria- and fungi-fighting properties. Academic studies indicate the oil could fight the formation of biofilm — the growth or build-up of bacteria on surfaces. One study suggests ylang ylang can stop the growth of the staphylococcus bacteria.

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Ylang Ylang Can Act as an Insect Repellant

Research shows ylang ylang can help house flies from reproducing, and it has successfully been used as a natural fumigator for Japanese termites. Further studies suggest the flower and oil could be developed as a natural insect control substance, thanks to its antipest properties and low toxicity to humans.

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Enhance Sexual Desire

Ylang ylang is a popular choice of natural aphrodisiac. This may be due in part to its support of the circulatory system; an increase in blood flow can enhance virility. The flower's anxiety-reducing properties may also play a role, as feeling more relaxed in the bedroom can improve sex drive.

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Ylang Ylang and Other Essential Oils

Ylang ylang blends easily with a huge range of essential oils that can compound its beneficial properties and create beautiful soothing or energizing scents. Some of the oils with which it combines well are bergamot, lemon, sandalwood, coconut, and geranium.

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Is Ylang Ylang Safe?

Recent research has shown that essential oils may not be as safe as once believed, with some being toxic to children, pets, or even adults. Ylang ylang appears to be a relatively safe option. Small studies show the oil is not harmful to children and can be applied to the scalp without side effects. Individuals may be allergic to the flower or oil, however, and should always test a small area before using topically. Do not consume ylang ylang oil or use it on your pets, and it can be toxic to animals.

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.