Ylang ylang essential oil is powerful oil that is often touted as a miracle solution for natural hormone regulation. A quick Google search will bring up a lot of websites that link ylang ylang oil to hormones. If you scan through many of them, you will find that there is nothing to substantiate this claim. Why or how does this essential oil influence your hormones?
Like anything else that is natural or plant-based, it is important to research how a substance actually affects the human body before you start using it medicinally.
I have nothing against holistic or natural care, however, too often I see people throwing around health claims for products that are untested. While I understand the appeal of using naturally derived ingredients, it is important to understand what research says about those ingredients.
If I inhale lemon essential oil everyday and notice a difference in my energy level, I cannot then claim that lemon oil caused this change. There are so many other things that we come into contact with every day that can influence our mood, hormones and skin.
Maybe I had more coffee than usual the week I tested the lemon oil. Maybe my cortisol levels were impacted by regular hormonal cyclic changes. Point being– the observation of your mood or energy level and the fact that you are using a new product is a correlation. Just because you notice two things happen at the same time, does not mean that one thing caused the other.
Don’t get me wrong, its great to make observations about what is going on with your body when you introduce a new product!
Whether you are ingesting a supplement, trying out a new lotion, or even using household cleaning products, how you react physically and emotionally is important to your health and well-being.
There are, however, important things to consider before you start making hard claims about the effects of the unregulated products that you use.
First, to make real connections between your observations and the products in your self-care regiment, you need to do some research. You want your natural lifestyle products to be reliably tested and valid. Lemon oil, to go back to my example, actually can impact your mood and energy level.
There really is a science behind inhaling a scent and smell is tied to the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory and emotion. This is why I mentioned how important observation is. Take note of the effect, and then find out why.
Like the lemon example, other fragrances that you inhale can directly impact your body. Your olfactory receptors (the cells that help you smell) are connected to your endocrine system. Your endocrine system, which regulates mood, energy, glucose and hormones is impacted by smell. Aromatherapy, despite the shortage of reliable scientific testing, can impact your mood via your limbic system. This part of the brain is responsible for sexual arousal, regulating stress and processing emotion.
This is why essential oils are powerful.
Does essential oil really “heal” your body by curing cancer, preventing hair loss and reducing pain? Probably not.
Does the perception of the healing effects of essential oil physically change your body? Probably yes.
I’ll keep this short before I move on to more information about ylang ylang. In a very cliff notes version, if you have been out of school for a few years, you may remember the placebo effect from your high school (or college) psychology class as the faking effect.
Basically, if you are doing a pharmaceutical trial with real medicine and a fake “sugar pill,” you want the people who take the real medicine to have much better results than those who take the sugar pill. It was widely considered that if the people who took the sugar pill claimed that it had the same effect as those who took the real pill, then your drug was no good. This notion is referred to as the placebo effect.
Now, we’ve learned a lot more about the placebo effect, researchers have found that it can be just as effective as a real drug in some cases. No, a placebo will not heal an organ or treat a tumor, but it can be effective for stress, fatigue and pain management among other things.
So knowing all this, it makes sense why so many people find relief from holistic treatments and essential oils despite the lack of scientific evidence to support these claims.
The Cananga odorata tree, also known as ylang ylang, is native to tropical regions of the Indo-Pacific region. While the oil is extracted from the fragrant flowers, other parts of the tree are used for medicinal purposes across Asia. From the bark to the flowers, ylang ylang is used to treat asthma, malaria, anxiety and high blood pressure.
Ylang ylang is well known for its anti-anxiety effects, and research has shown that it can actually lower blood pressure and heart rate when inhaled. Similar to the lemon oil example, there is some scientific evidence for the effects of ylang ylang essential oil.
The answer is simply, “it is complicated.” 🙂 Remember, the human body produces over 50 different hormones. These hormones are responsible for everything from the melanin in your skin to kidney functions to sex hormones. Ylang ylang, touted for its calming effect, may play a role in lowering cortisol levels, a hormone that regulates stress and blood sugar.
Despite what you may have read elsewhere, there is no evidence that ylang ylang directly impacts your sex hormones. By this, I mean that an analysis of the chemicals that compose ylang ylang essential oil, yields no natural estrogens or progesterones.
As far as sex chromosomes, the bark may contain properties that decrease testosterone. The crude oil extracted from the bark has been tested in male rats, and was found to decrease testosterone production and sperm mobility. These researchers were actually able to isolate the protein in the bark responsible and could “immobilize” sperm in their study.
It is important to remember that ylang ylang essential oil is extracted from the flowers and not the bark, and that this study was done with rats and not tested on humans.
To balance hormones and improve endocrine function, it is important to be mindful of all hormones in the body. Ylang ylang may not directly regulate your sex hormones, however its impact on your cortisol levels is important.
Progesterone, in particular, can change with your stress levels. Studies have shown that stressful environments that increase cortisol levels also increase progesterone levels. This could mean that a natural substance, like ylang ylang essential oil which is beneficial for regulating the hormone cortisol, could also play a role in balancing progesterone levels.
I have seen quite a few claims around the internet that ylang ylang essential oil is used as a treatment for impotence and fertility treatments. It seems that ylang ylang oil plays a role in natural infertility treatments because of its impact on anxiety.
While it is often tempting to replace all of our beauty and health treatments with natural products, it is important to research exactly how these natural treatments work. With essential oils, I am a strong believer in testing and researching oils before I use them medicinally. While ylang ylang essential oil may not be a miracle treatment for someone with a serious hormone imbalance, it can definitely impact the hormones that play a role in stress and anxiety.
Try it for yourself. Mix a few drops of ylang ylang essential oil with water in a diffuser or simply inhale the scent from the bottle. You can always mix the oil with a carrier oil, like grapeseed or coconut, and apply a few drops to your wrist or the back of your neck.