Citrus aurantium var. amara (flos) (aka Neroli)
Ever the optimist, I am sure summer is really waiting quietly around the corner ready to pounce with its full radiance…so with that thought in mind, I wanted to share the benefits of a particularly exquisite essential oil, Citrus aurantium var. amara flos (aka Neroli), for the month of June.
When we think of summer, thoughts of heat, energy, excess and joy come to mind – beautiful summer, the season most closely associated to the Fire element in Chinese medicine with yang at its most radiant. The fragrance energies that support this element are aromas that are pungent-herbaceous, spicy and floral – this is where beautiful Neroli comes in to play. Neroli supports disharmonies associated to Fire by balancing the Heart and Mind/ Spirit bringing emotional balance, with its intention to uplift, center and to harmonise.
The gentle floral aroma of Neroli is subtly warm, a little bittersweet, delicately rich, and orange-like, which associates well to its origin from the fragrant flowers of the bitter orange tree (also known as the sour or Seville orange tree, part of the Rutaceae family). Its energy is cool in temperature so really calms and stabilises those conditions that are ‘hot’ in nature, conditions such as restlessness, insomnia, palpitations, agitation and hypertension, those associated to Fire. As such, its most beneficial action is as an all round regulator to the nervous system by easing emotional and mental tension. With its euphoric quality, Neroli uplifts the Spirit allowing feelings of despondency, sadness, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem to lighten, bringing strength and comfort to the Mind, and allowing a sense of grounding to be instilled.
A high proportion of Neroli’s chemistry is made up of monoterpene alcohols (known as monoterpenols), and it is the compound linalool (of which up to 47% can be present in Neroli) that I am most interested in, bringing the sedative quality to this oil. Linalool is also classed a hypotensor, supporting the reduction in high blood pressure. It has relatively good amounts of both limonene and beta-pinene (monoterpenes) both of which are a fantastic support to the immune system. Also present in its chemistry are esters (linalyl acetate, geranyl acetate and neryl acetate), these compounds are very gentle in action, calming, regulating, sedative – again like linalool – and balancing, therefore an especially good tonic to the nervous system. The synergy between Neroli’s chemistry makes it a very special oil indeed.
From my own experience I personally feel it has a stronger sedative action, I might even say slightly hypnotic, and is a wonderful remedy to use either on its own or as a synergistic blend to help support extreme symptoms of insomnia. It brings a sense of lightness, comfort and settles the soul really beautifully. Working antenatally, it soothes the anxiety, panic and stress felt my so many women in so many ways, and as a labour support it is incredibly helpful for alleviating tension, anxiety, worry, exhaustion, stress and shock, along with its anti-spasmodic action it is good for poor uterine action.
Neroli is also classed a cicatrisant (cell regenerating and wound healing) and immune stimulating, so it a really good oil to consider for the post-partum period when the body is beginning to allow ‘herself’ to heal. During this time it is also one of the best oils (along with clary sage, ylang ylang and geranium) to support postnatal depression.
Although not necessarily an oil I would initially consider to support the digestive system (as there are so many other beneficial oils), it is a carminative and anti-spasmodic, and therefore soothes spasms of the smooth muscles of the digestive tract. However, I would absolutely consider its use in treating digestive conditions if symptoms are caused by or exacerbated by extreme nervous tension, worry and upset. Again, it is a very good tonic during pregnancy for supporting any type of stomach upset, due to its antispasmodic action.
For children though, this is a really beautiful oil to help relieve infant digestive complaints and to soothe sleep patterns. It is safe to use and is non-toxic and non-sensitising to the skin.
Article by Heidi Sanders
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