The plant with the unusual name ylang-ylang comes to us from the exotic parts of the world – the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Madagascar, Oceania and the tropical parts of Australia. Its name (pronounced eelang-eelang, with an emphasis on the first syllable) comes from the Spanish transcription of the name for the ylang-ylang tree from the Tagalog language spoken in the Philippines, which literally means “wilderness”, alluding to the natural habitat of this plant. This name is a nice example of reduplication, which is common in the languages of the Far East and Oceania, that is, the formation of the plural by duplicating all or part of a word. Some other names for this tree are cananga, mokosoi or mata’oi. Ylang-ylang is sometimes mistranslated as “flower of all flowers”, although this is not far from the truth.
The essential oil made from the flower of the plant has a strong floral scent, as evidenced by the second part of its scientific name Cananga odorata – fragrant cananga. One of the frequent uses of the plant is in aromatherapy, because its scent calms, improves memory and cognitive functions. Its relaxing effect has been proven by studies: the application of essential oil on the skin significantly reduces blood pressure and reduces stress and depression. In addition to banishing feelings of fatigue and lethargy, ylang-ylang will lift our spirits and will “put wind in our sails” when it comes to self-confidence. That is why it is not bad to have this oil to hand in situations where we need a little more optimism.
As it lifts the mood, it also acts as an aphrodisiac, strengthens sensuality and sexual desire and reduces sexual anxiety. That is why it is also called the flower of love and is therefore frequently used to decorate newlyweds’ bedrooms. However, even though it promotes sexual desire, this plant does not strengthen fertility, on the contrary. Ethanol extract of the root of the plant has been shown to have a spermicidal effect; hence ylang-ylang can be considered a powerful natural contraceptive. In laboratory tests, it reduced the number of sperm in rats by as much as 94 percent and blocked the production of testosterone.
Another surprising action of this plant is antidiabetic. Leaf and stem extracts inhibit alpha-amylase; therefore it is believed that this plant could be useful in preventing hyperglycaemia and complications associated with diabetes. In its homeland, ylang-ylang is also known as a cure or prevention for malaria, treatment for asthma, an insect repellent, especially bed bugs; in Polynesia it is added to coconut oil for massage and hair care, in Papua its tree bark is used to treat gout, while in Samoa it is used as a laxative; Indians use it for rheumatism and fever, but it is known primarily as a guardian of the skin’s health, beauty and youth all over the world.
WHY IS YLANG-YLANG THERAPEUTIC?
Studies of the chemical composition of ylang-ylang essential oil have revealed that it contains the most monoterpenes, including geraniol, limonene, linalool, nerol, an abundance of sesquiterpenes, phenylpropanoids and aliphatic compounds. The compounds that give it its characteristic scent are, among others, linalool, methyl benzoate, benzyl acetate, geranyl acetate… Some of the ingredients of this plant have surprisingly strong effects: for example, liriodenine is an alkaloid with strong cytotoxic, antibacterial and antifungal action. Another alkaloid, sampangine, as well as terpenoids from flower buds have a proven effect against malignant melanoma cells, and also have an antimalarial effect, which confirms its traditional use. Sesquiterpenes are effective for the treatment of liver cancer, and methyl isoeugenol has a powerful effect against bacteria and fungi.
The antimicrobial action of the extract of all parts of the ylang-ylang plant has been proven to be extremely broad; some of the pathogens against which it is very effective are Propionibacterium acnes, Candida albicans, Klebsiella, Salmonella, Shigella, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus…
FLOWER OF LOVE FOR THE SKIN
By having the power to destroy cancer cells, ylang-ylang has strong antioxidant properties, which not only protect us from the most serious diseases, but also help us maintain a youthful appearance. Recent research has found that ylang-ylang extract has the power to regulate melanin production, thus helping to protect us against harmful UV rays and against skin hyperpigmentation. Also, one of the beneficial effects of this plant is anti-inflammatory, which is why it is traditionally used to treat rheumatism, arthritis and inflammatory skin disorders.
Ylang-ylang is most useful for acne-prone skin. Its antibacterial action against Propionibacterium acnes alone is enough to prevent this unpleasant skin disorder. Ylang-ylang additionally helps regulate sebum production, soothes inflammation and redness, prevents irritation, cleanses the skin, speeds up circulation and helps retain moisture in the skin. Its antioxidant properties give an excellent anti-ageing effect, tone the skin and prevent premature wrinkles.
Ylang-ylang is also useful for the treatment of cuts, wounds and cracked skin because its antiseptic effect prevents infections and inflammation, hydrates the skin and accelerates its healing. Although the translation of the plant’s name “flower of all flowers” is wrong, the plant can easily take it with pride. That is why ylang-ylang has reached Devi cosmetics: it is an ingredient in Clear Skin gel in which it does what it does best – prevents acne or helps eliminate them, reduces skin inflammation, regulates sebum, cleans and reduces pores and eliminates hyperpigmentation. Clear skin gel is suitable even for the most sensitive skin, and it contains other valuable and completely natural ingredients that work in synergy with this great plant. The result is a clean and even complexion, which will give us self-confidence and optimism – all with the whiff of distant exotic islands.
The following products contain this plant: