What precious botanical oil requires around 1,000 pounds of handpicked flowers to be produced? I’ll give you a hint — its fragrance can be described as a deep, intoxicating mix of citrus and floral aromas.
Its scent isn’t the only reason you’ll want to read on. This essential oil is excellent at soothing agitated nerves and is especially effective at relieving feelings of grief and despair. Plus, you can actually reduce your blood pressure and cortisol levels just by smelling this wondrous oil. (1) Give up? I’m talking about neroli essential oil, which comes straight from the flowers of an orange tree!
Neroli Essential Oil Origins & Components
The interesting thing about the bitter orange tree (Citrus aurantium) is that it actually produces three distinctly different essential oils. The peel of the nearly ripe fruit yields bitter orange oil while the leaves are the source of petitgrain essential oil. Last but certainly not least, neroli essential oil is steam-distilled from the small, white, waxy flowers of the tree.
The bitter orange tree is native to eastern Africa and tropical Asia, but today it’s also grown throughout the Mediterranean region and in the states of Florida and California. The trees bloom heavily in May, and under optimal growing conditions, a large bitter orange tree can produce up to 60 pounds of fresh flowers.
Timing is crucial when it comes to creating neroli essential oil since the flowers quickly lose their oil after they’re plucked from the tree. To keep the quality and quantity of neroli essential oil at their highest, the orange blossom must be handpicked without being excessively handled or bruised.
Some of the major components of neroli essential oil include linalool (28.5 percent), linalyl acetate (19.6 percent), nerolidol (9.1 percent), E-farnesol (9.1 percent), α-terpineol (4.9 percent) and limonene (4.6 percent).
6 Impressive Benefits of Neroli Essential Oil
1. Lowers Inflammation & Pain
Neroli has been shown to be an effective and therapeutic choice for the management of pain and inflammation. Results of one study in the Journal of Natural Medicines suggest that neroli possesses biologically active constituents that have the ability to reduce acute inflammation and chronic inflammation even more so. It was also found that neroli essential oil has the ability to reduce central and peripheral sensitivity to pain. (2)
2. Reduces Stress & Improve Symptoms of Menopause
The effects of inhaling neroli essential oil on menopausal symptoms, stress and estrogen in postmenopausal women were investigated in a 2014 study. Sixty-three healthy postmenopausal women were randomized to inhale 0.1 percent or 0.5 percent neroli oil, or almond oil (control), for five minutes twice daily for five days in the Korea University School of Nursing study.
Compared with the control group, the two neroli oil groups showed significantly lower diastolic blood pressure as well as improvements in pulse rate, serum cortisol levels and estrogen concentrations. The findings indicate that inhalation of neroli essential oil helps relieve menopausal symptoms, increase sexual desire and reduce blood pressure in postmenopausal women. In general, neroli essential oil can be an effective intervention to reduce stress and improve the endocrine system. (3)
3. Decreases Blood Pressure & Cortisol Levels
A study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine investigated the effects of using essential oil inhalation on blood pressure and salivary cortisol levels in 83 prehypertensive and hypertensive subjects at regular intervals for 24 hours. The experimental group was asked to inhale an essential oil blend that included lavender, ylang-ylang, marjoram and neroli. Meanwhile, the placebo group was asked to inhale an artificial fragrance for 24, and the control group received no treatment.
What do you think researchers found? The group that smelled the essential oil mix including neroli had significantly decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared with the placebo group and the control group after treatment. The experimental group also showed significant decreases in the concentration of salivary cortisol. It was concluded that the inhalation of neroli essential oil can have immediate and continuous positive effects on blood pressure and stress reduction. (4)
4. Exhibits Antimicrobial & Antioxidant Activities
The fragrant blossoms of the bitter orange tree don’t just produce an oil that smells amazing. Research shows that the chemical composition of neroli essential oil has both antimicrobial and antioxidant powers.
Antimicrobial activity was exhibited by neroli against six kinds of bacteria, two types of yeast and three different fungi in a study published in the Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences. Neroli oil exhibited a marked antibacterial activity, especially against Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Neroli essential oil also exhibited a very strong antifungal activity compared with the standard antibiotic (nystatin). (5)
5. Repairs & Rejuvenates Skin
If you’re looking to buy some essential oils to add to your beauty routine, you’ll definitely want to consider neroli essential oil. It’s known for its ability to regenerate the skin cells and improve the elasticity of skin. It also helps maintain the right oil balance in the skin, making it an excellent choice for all skin types.
Due to its ability to revive skin at the cellular level, neroli essential oil can be beneficial for wrinkles, scars and stretch marks. Any skin condition caused by or related to stress should also respond well to the use of neroli essential oil since it has wonderful overall healing and calming abilities. It can also be useful for treating bacterial skin conditions and rashes since it has antimicrobial ability (as mentioned above). (6)
6. Acts as an Anti-seizure & Anticonvulsant Agent
Seizures involve changes in the brain’s electrical activity. This can cause dramatic, noticeable symptoms — or even no symptoms at all. The symptoms of a severe seizure are often widely recognized, including violent shaking and loss of control.
A recent 2014 study was designed to investigate the anticonvulsant effect of neroli. The study found that neroli possesses biologically active constituents that have anticonvulsant activity, which supports the use of the plant in the management of seizures. (7)
"What in the hell did I get myself into?" That is the thought running over and over in my mind the first time I dry brushed my skin. It stings. Only momentarily, but it stings something awful. Why on earth would I be naked as a jay bird dry rubbing a stiff bristle natural fiber brush over every inch of my skin before hoping in my steamy lavender magnesium bath? Well, here's why I delved deeper into my adventures of being a posh crunchy mama and started skin brushing...
One third of your body's toxins are excreted through the skin and dry brushing helps to unclog pores and excrete toxins that become trapped in the skin.
A very good friend of mine sent me an article about skin brushing (also known as dry brushing), knowing how interested I am in all methods of naturally improving health, wellness, and natural immune boosting. I read the article and did a little additional research (c'mon, its me we're talking about). Skin brushing sounded pretty awesome.
Most of us know that your skin is the largest organ of absorption and elimination. That's the reason why what you put on your skin in the way of beauty products (lotions, deodorant, perfumes, etc.) is so very important. What you put on you, goes IN YOU. Aluminum, parabens, and all manner of hormone disruptors and carcinogens are present in our medicine cabinets, and it would serve you well to go read those labels carefully. But what about what comes out of our skin? Many people exfoliate the skin on their faces regularly (hello apricot scrub, I love you), an entire spa industry is focused on facial exfoliation. But the truth is that your whole body could do with thorough and regular scrub-a-dub. Skin that is clogged with toxins and dead cells cannot function properly because the toxins are not being eliminated.
Out of all the numerous benefits (and believe me their were tons), here are what I think are the top benefits of skin brushing:
Reduces Cellulite Um WHAT?! Awesome.The first major benefit that many proponents of skin brushing claim is that it eliminates–or drastically reduces–the appearance of cellulite (example of a before and after below). This is an important element of detoxifying the body. Cellulite is actually composed of toxic fat buildup that results in the wrinkling of the skin. Brushing dry skin is believed to tighten the epidermis and contribute to the breakup of this toxic material. This is much more economical and convenient than liposuction therapy. The detoxification process can be further enhanced by taking colon cleansing, liver cleansing, and chemical and heavy metal cleansing supplements and exercising regularly.
Exfoliates Another benefit one can expect is the removal of dead skin cells. Advantages that this brings extend beyond the obvious one of removing dry, dead skin that looks dull. When dead cells are exfoliated, new cells form more quickly. The added benefit of exfoliating the skin, is clearing excess sebum oil, dirt and residue from the pores. Though it isn’t recommended to dry brush the face unless you have a special, more delicate brush, dry brushing helps improve pores on the rest of the body. Skin not only looks healthier, it actually becomes healthier as dead skin is removed from clogged pores. If you are a lover of therapeutic essential oils (like I am, uh hem), you can expect better and more thorough absorption of your oils if there isn't layers of dead skin cells to pass though.
Promotes Circulation Blood flow increases to the skin following dry brushing, and the normal process of releasing toxins through perspiration is improved. Proper exercise, spicy foods, and breathing techniques also help promote normal circulation.
Supports Muscle Tone Another advantage offered by skin brushing is the stimulation of the nervous system. Stimulated nerves activate muscle fibers and improve muscle tone. This is particularly beneficial to people who have lost weight and are looking to tighten up sagging skin.
Immune System Health One of the most important benefits of skin brushing is the supposed effect it has on the lymphatic system. This is of profound significance to the immune system. The lymphatic system is a major part of the body’s immune system. It is made up of organs and lymph nodes, ducts and vessels that transport lymph throughout the body. Many of these lymph vessels run just below the skin and proponents of dry brushing claim that brushing the skin regularly helps stimulate the normal lymph flow within the body and help the body detoxify itself naturally. White blood cells, or lymphocytes, are actually named after this major body system. Lymph circulates to our cells through channels independent of our circulatory system. However, after it has done its work, it returns to the bloodstream through valves leading into the heart. Here, the white blood cells can fight the toxic agents that threaten our health. Massaging the skin with a brush, combined with exercise, speeds up the flow of lymph and directly contributes to a stronger immune system and healthier body.
Skin Appearance A huge benefit of skin brushing is a drastic improvement in the appearance of the skin itself! Eliminating dead skin and unclogging pores results in a very noticeable improvement. For people who exercise or sit in Far Infrared Saunas, this is an excellent follow up to detoxification by sweating. The appearance of the skin also improves as new cells form more quickly, and the skin takes on a smooth luster that is noticeably brighter than the dull appearance of old, dry, and often wrinkled skin.
HOW TO DRY BRUSH YOUR SKIN
The brush used should be a long-handled bath type brush. It should contain only natural vegetable bristles. Synthetic bristles should be avoided as they may scratch or irritate the skin. The brush should be kept dry and never used for bathing. When one performs skin brushing, the body should be dry for proper effect. Wet skin may allow sliding while dry skin brushing gently stretches the skin promoting lymph flow and the sloughing off of dead skin cells.
The brush should pass over every part of the body, always toward the heart.
Standing in my bathroom, as gently as I could, using this brush against my bare skin and over my bum (Hello?! Reduces cellulite!), I seriously started to doubt the wisdom of this experiment. Ouch! But the scratchy feeling subsides very quickly. And do you know what I started to see floating in the air? MY SKIN! Flakes of skin were everywhere. Okay, so it works in removing dead cells. That's pretty cool. Gross, but pretty cool. I then continued with my regular hot epsom salt and essential oils bath, natural lotion application and called it a night.
The next morning my skin is noticeably smoother and more vibrant. My body seemed to absorb my lotion and essential oils SO MUCH BETTER. Being in the endless winter here in New England and nursing a very hungry 6 month old - my skin seems perpetually dry. This was the first morning after my soak and smear (Hot bath followed with full body oils and lotion, meant to keep your skin in better health than constant showers that strip your body of moisture. I didn't make that name up, I hate the word smear too. gross) that my skin felt as moisturized and soft as it did when I went to bed. Looking forward also to the additional benefits this will have in increasing the effectiveness of my skin absorbing my daily use of my essential oils. Wondering how many of those precious drops in the past were wasted on my dead-skin laden body. Hmm, best not to think about it.
I'm sold. Not bad for a tool that cost $5.99! I'll keep you updated on any other benefits as I see them.
Would you try skin brushing? What was your experience?