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Bitter Orange Blossom
In our grocery store society, we are used to seeing just one part of a plant as edible – the vegetable or fruit. But our flowers, vegetables, trees, and shrubs have so much more to offer!
We know that essential oils can be taken from multiple parts of some plants, and neroli essential oil is an excellent example – it comes from Citrus aurantium, just as bitter, or sweet orange essential oil, but the chemical composition is quite different.
In fact, an analysis of each found that there were more than twice as many compounds in the essential oil found in orange blossoms than there were in the peel. (1) One of the reasons for this is because orange oil is cold pressed from the peel, whereas neroli essential oil is distilled from the blossoms.
The blossoms that are harvested to create neroli essential oil would otherwise have become oranges, and it takes a significant amount of them to make the oil (the supplier Mountain Rose Herbs indicates 100 lbs of blossoms to make 1 lb of oil!). These factors alone justify neroli essential oil as a rather pricey oil. But demand for essential oils is high, so adulteration is a common problem.
It is difficult to know whether an oil has been cut with cheaper oils, additives, or scents. The best we can do is choose reputable manufacturers who are willing to be transparent about their production methods, batch analyses, and sourcing.
5 Benefits of Neroli Essential Oil
When you see Citrus on a bottle of neroli essential oil, don’t mistake it for the same old orange oil. I love orange oil as much as the next person, but when you pay a pretty penny to enjoy the luxury of neroli essential oil, you treat it like something special!
1. Pain & Inflammation
There’s a reason people go through the trouble of harvesting specific blossoms at a specific time to make an oil – traditionally infused or hydrosol, more recently distilled for concentrated essential oils. It’s completely worth the effort!
Neroli oil was recently tested in the lab to isolate its compounds and determine why it has been used to combat painful inflammation. Although not every traditional use is verified in the lab, we have seen over and over again that many of them are. In this case, researchers came to the following conclusion:
The results suggest that neroli possesses biologically active constituent(s) that have significant activity against acute and especially chronic inflammation, and have central and peripheral antinociceptive effects which support the ethnomedicinal claims of the use of the plant in the management of pain and inflammation. (2)
Some of the compounds in neroli are able to target the inflammatory process, so neroli would be worth the investment if you are struggling against chronic inflammation and painful conditions.
Applications: Massage oil, topical pain ointment.
Not every woman struggles heavily with menopause, but for those who do, the effects can be debilitating. For others, it can be disruptive and unpleasant – and who has time for that?
According to the ACOG, most women will spend 40% of their lives in menopause or post-menopausal, and while the slight majority of women do nothing for symptoms, an estimated 38 million hormone replacement drugs were prescribed in 2010. (3)
In 2014, Korean researchers focused on neroli essential oil’s impact on the symptoms of menopause, with good results. Just by inhalation, neroli was found to have a positive impact on (4):
Personal inhalers are simple and use very little oil, making neroli a worthwhile investment for anyone dealing with unpleasant symptoms of menopause. While hormone replacement therapy is sometimes necessary, some symptoms may be controlled with the simple addition of this invaluable essential oil.
Applications: Room diffusion and personal inhalers.
3. Stress Reduction
It seems menopausal and post-menopausal women aren’t the only ones who benefit from neroli’s antihypertensive effects. In another study conducted by Korean scientists, neroli was combined with other calming essential oils for evaluation in control groups.
There were 83 participants, all of whom had high blood pressure or pre-high blood pressure, and the group was divided into three sections: no treatment; a placebo fragrance; and a blend of lavender, neroli, ylang ylang, and marjoram. After inhalation only, the test group had improved cortisol (stress) markers as well as lower blood pressure. (5)
High blood pressure is a potentially dangerous condition that should be treated promptly upon discovery, but for most cases, lifestyle changes will come first. Especially when stress has contributed to elevated blood pressure, including stress relieving oils like neroli can be an important and effective lifestyle change.
4. Brain Health
Such prominent effects on stress indicate some kind of action in the brain. Traditional uses of the blossom include anticonvulsants and anti-seizure treatments, so researchers in 2014 analyzed whether the essential oil itself had any of these actions.
The studies were conducted on mice, so the results are preliminary and don’t indicate any kind of replacement for current treatments. However, they were able to trace and replicate anticonvulsant activity in neroli essential oil. (6)
Until we know more about how this might impact future approaches in medicine, we can acknowledge the overall protective effect that neroli seems to have for brain and mental health and wellness.
Applications: Diffusion, inclusion in calming blends.
5. Gut Health
A few years age, eight essential oils for stomach health were analyzed for their effects on gut dysbiosis (bacterial imbalance). The findings included caraway, lavender, and neroli as stand-out examples of essential oils that would harmonize well with the beneficial bacteria in the body. (source) These studies demonstrate the excellent ability that these essential oils have to affect detrimental bacteria while remaining gentle on the body and beneficial strains. In addition, neroli is superbly helpful for a number of health conditions.
Applications: Massage oil, topical ointment.
Calming Oils to Blend w/Neroli
The best application for neroli seems to be diffusion or inhalation. It’s a light, floral fragrance that blends well in many preparations. Try it with other relaxing, focus, or anti-anxiety oils to create a calming, enjoyable fragrance:
Choose 2-4 oils and blend 1-2 drops of each into a carrier oil, or one drop each into an ultrasonic diffuser or personal inhaler.