Ylang Ylang Essential Oil Health Benefits

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Ylang ylang essential oil is a type of essential oil commonly used in aromatherapy. Sourced from the flowers of Cananga odorata (a plant native to the Philippines and Indonesia), ylang ylang essential oil is said to offer a variety of health benefits.

Ylang-Ylang flowers on tree
Pierre-Yves Babelon / Getty Images

One of the main components of ylang ylang essential oil is linalool, a compound found to possess stress-reducing properties in a number of preliminary studies.

How It Works

In aromatherapy, inhaling the aroma of ylang ylang essential oil (or absorbing ylang ylang essential oil through the skin) is thought to transmit messages to a brain region involved in controlling emotions. Known as the limbic system, this brain region also influences the nervous system. Aromatherapy proponents suggest that essential oils may affect a number of biological factors, including heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, and immune function.

Health Benefits

Although research on the health effects of the aromatherapeutic use of ylang ylang essential oil is limited, there's some evidence that it may offer certain benefits.


Absorbing ylang ylang essential oil through the skin may help reduce stress levels, according to a study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2006. Additionally, a study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience in 2008 found that inhaling the aroma of ylang ylang essential oil helped increase feelings of calmness.

Building on this early work, researchers in a 2016 paper sought to determine linalool's effect on chronic stress. In an experiment on rats, they said worked as an antidepressant.

Research on mice, published in 2018, looked at linalool as a treatment for social anxiety. They found that linalool reversed social aversion and acted as an antidepressant.

High Blood Pressure

Ylang ylang essential oil may be of some benefit to people with high blood pressure.

In a 2012 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, for example, researchers asked 83 people with high blood pressure or prehypertension (a condition marked by elevated blood pressure) to inhale the aroma of either a blend of ylang ylang essential oil, lavender essential oil, marjoram essential oil, and neroli essential oil or a placebo fragrance. Study results showed that those assigned to the essential oil group experienced a decrease in blood pressure, as well as in levels of cortisol (a hormone released during the stress response).

Given these findings, the study's authors suggest that essential oils may offer relaxing effects that may be useful in controlling blood pressure. However, it's important to note that it's unknown whether ylang ylang essential oil on its own can help lower blood pressure.

If you're considering the use of ylang ylang, talk to your doctor first. Keep in mind that essential oils should not be used as a substitute for standard care in the treatment of a chronic health condition.


In aromatherapy, ylang ylang essential oil is typically used for the following problems:

  • Anxiety
  • Athlete's foot
  • Colds
  • Cough
  • Depression
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle tension
  • Sinus infections

Ylang ylang essential oil is also used to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, improve mood, and enhance libido.

In addition, ylang ylang essential oil is said to act as a natural insect repellent, promote wound healing, and diminish the appearance of scars when applied to the skin.

Keep in mind that many of these claims have not been scientifically investigated, and even for those that have received some study, there's not yet enough evidence to say for certain whether ylang ylang is safe and effective.

How to Use It

When combined with a carrier oil (such as jojoba, sweet almond, or avocado), ylang ylang essential oil can be applied directly to the skin. It can also be added to baths.

Ylang ylang essential oil also can be inhaled after sprinkling a few drops of the oil onto a cloth or tissue, or by using an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer.


Ylang ylang essential oil should not be taken internally without the supervision of a health professional. While studies on the oil as a food ingredient show no adverse effects, no data exist on consuming larger, medicinal quantities.

In addition, some individuals may experience irritation when applying ylang ylang essential oil to the skin. Essential oils should not be applied full strength to the skin.

Pregnant women and children should consult their primary healthcare providers prior to using essential oils.

Where to Find It

Widely available for purchase online, ylang ylang essential oil is sold in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in self-care products.

Talk to your doctor before using ylang ylang essential oil. It's too soon to recommend ylang ylang essential oil for any health condition, due to the lack of supporting research.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstance or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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  1. Caputo L, Reguilon MD, Mińarro J, De Feo V, Rodriguez-Arias M. Lavandula angustifolia Essential Oil and Linalool Counteract Social Aversion Induced by Social DefeatMolecules. 2018;23(10):2694. Published 2018 Oct 19. doi:10.3390/molecules23102694

  2. Dartmouth College. Review of Clinical and Functional Neuroscience. Chapter 9 - Limbic system.

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  4. Moss M, Hewitt S, Moss L, Wesnes K. Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylangInt J Neurosci. 2008;118(1):59–77. doi:10.1080/00207450601042094

  5. Saiyudthong S, Mekseepralard C, Srijittapong D. PS120. Effects of linalool on chronic stress-induced depressive-like behaviour and BDNF protein in the hippocampus of ratsInt J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2016;19(Suppl 1):40–41. Published 2016 May 27. doi:10.1093/ijnp/pyw043.120

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  7. Burdock GA, Carabin IG. Safety assessment of Ylang-Ylang (Cananga spp.) as a food ingredientFood Chem Toxicol. 2008;46(2):433–445. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2007.09.105

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