Essential Oil Litsea Cubeba (15 mL)
Essential Oil Litsea Cubeba
Litsea Cubeba is the botanical name for May Chang, a tree belonging to the Lauraceae family. The tree bears whitish-yellowish flowers that have a characteristic citrusy fragrance and fruits that resemble peppers (that’s where the word ‘cubeb’ comes from). The essential oil is extracted from the ripened and dried fruits of the Litsea Cubeba tree.
Also known as ‘Mountain Pepper’ or ‘Chinese Pepper’, the plant is native to south China, Indonesia, Java, Sumatra and other regions of Southeast Asia. It is widely cultivated in Japan and Taiwan for its commercial uses although China remains the largest producer and exporter of the oil. The scent of Litsea Cubeba oil can be compared to Lemongrass, although the former is often described as “finer” and “sweeter” than the latter.
Litsea cubeba is a Chinese wonder herb conferred to the medicinal world. Used as a promising anti-depressant for more than thousands of years in the Asian subcontinent, Litsea cubeba is remembered to treat anxiety, fear, fatigue, excessive perspiration, pain and stress. This is mainly due to the uplifting, regenerating, energizing and refreshing aroma of its lemony essential oil extracted from the pepper-like berries of this evergreen shrub.
HISTORY OF USE
Litsea cubeba is native to China, Indonesia and other areas of Southeast Asia. In China it grows naturally in the south, and has been cultivated in central and eastern areas to the south of the Yangtze river for its various commercial uses. Smaller quantities of this species also grow wild in Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan, between a height of 700 metres and 2,300 meters above sea level. It is also cultivated in Japan and Taiwan.
May chang essential oil did not become available in the Western world until the early 1950’s, when it began to compete with lemongrass as a source material for the extraction of citral. Widely used in soaps, fragrances and flavourings, production of the essential oil is still almost entirely based in China, and very little is currently known about their methods of cultivation or harvesting.
The plant has a long history of use in Chinese herbal medicine, and all parts of the plant were used to provide remedies for asthma, back pain, chills, digestive problems, dysmenorrhoea, headaches and muscular aches and pains. It was believed to have carcinostatic properties and therefore employed to treat cancer.
Recent research in China investigated the ability of May chang essential oil to regulate cardiac arrhythmia when compared to the beta-blocker, Propranolol. The results were encouraging and showed that it reduced artificially induced arrhythmia from 15 minutes to 6.5 minutes, compared to the drugs performance 15 mins to 0.6 mins. Impressive, for a natural remedy.
May chang oil is extracted by steam distillation of the fresh fruits, and yields a pale yellow liquid with a fresh, intensely lemon fragrance with fruity and spicy undertones. For many people, the aroma brings back happy memories of sherbet-lemon sweets! Its lemony fragrance is similar to, but much sweeter and more refined than lemongrass, which has grassy, fishy and fatty backnotes. Due to this lemon sweetness, essential oil of May chang is used extensively in the perfumery, cosmetic and flavour industries.
May chang essential oil has refreshing, stimulating and uplifting action, which makes it perfect for relieving fatigue and lethargic psychological states. So when you are suffering from a severe case of the blues, add a few drops of this oil to your diffuser for a quick pick-me-up. And because this oil is a tonic to the nervous system it makes it ideal for clearing your head when you are feeling anxious, stressed or befuddled.
It has surprisingly good antiseptic, antifungal and antiviral properties too, which can be used to help keep coughs, colds and athletes foot at bay. It’s also great for cleansing jobs around the home such as sterilizing kitchen worktops. To boost its effectiveness, blend May chang with tea tree and you’ll have a powerful cleansing action without the unpleasant disinfectant-like aroma. When vaporised, it also acts as a respiratory tonic.
Use it in skin care for its mild astringent properties which can be helpful with acne and oily skin. May chang is also a very effective deodorant that helps to reduce excess perspiration, so added to a lotion it can be used to make an all-over body lotion. This oil may be mildly sensitising to a few individuals, but since it has a powerful aroma you only need tiny amounts which reduces the likelihood of it being a problem for most people.
May chang blends well with a wide range of other essential oils, introducing a lovely fresh lemon-citrus note wherever you use it. Try it with basil, bergamot, clary sage, geranium, ginger, jasmine, lavender, linaloe wood, petitgrain, rose, rosemary, ylang ylang and all citrus oils.
Used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat indigestion, lower back pain, chills, headaches and travel sickness. Blended into a light carrier oil or in a bath, Litsea Oil is often recommended to treat acne, dermatitis, and greasy skin. Please use with extreme caution and very light dilutions on broken or troubled skin.
Litsea is useful in treating excessive perspiration, flatulence, and indigestion. Recent research indicates that it may have a use in treating cardiac arrhythmia. It is also an anti-spasmodic, specifically of the bronchia, and thus can be helpful in treating an asthma attack. I know of one aromatherapist who uses it at the start of a headache.
Litsea is widely used in the perfume and soap industries, providing a lemon-scented base note, often used to “anchor” the scents of the true citrus top notes that are far too fleeting.
Caution: NEVER USE INTERNALLY without consulting professional medical help
- Not recommended for pregnant women and infants.
Individuals with serious and chronic health issues should consult an expert prior to using oils.
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