When the names Cananga and Ylang Ylang roll off the tongue, they can cause listeners to wonder just what unknown language is being used to address them. Don’t those rhythmic syllables sound like something you’d hear deep within a foreign jungle, surrounded by the mystery of a tribal ritual? Well, it’s time to disperse some of that mysterious aura, enchanting though it may be. It turns out that dōTERRA® Cananga and Ylang Ylang oils are closely related, each being derived from a distinctive variation of the very same plant species. From two different blossoms come these sweet, calming floral oils. Of the two, we’ll focus on Cananga and what particular elements distinguish it from Ylang Ylang.
The cananga tree is a tall, tropical tree native to much of Asia. Its delicately drooping yellow flowers are prized worldwide for their sweet, floral aroma; yet they’re surprisingly unassuming in appearance and easy to mistake for leaves. Here’s a fun cultural note to appreciate: some Indonesian customs involve placing cananga flowers on honeymooners’ pillows to symbolize the happy life ahead. What a romantic use for this flower and its soft, woody aroma. One chemical component prevalent in Cananga also exists in oils such as Basil, Black Pepper, and Melissa, with this one difference: its concentration in Cananga is strangely richer. In fact, richer and less floral are good descriptions of Cananga in comparison with sister oil Ylang Ylang. You could say it’s the feistier of the two. The prevalence of this particular chemical in Cananga oil actually makes it comparable to the powerhouse oil Copaiba in some ways!
What do we make of all this chemistry and comparison? For one, we can conclude that dōTERRA Cananga is highly useful in helping to manage stressful feelings. Indeed, a prime use for this mysterious sounding essential oil is in the realm of relaxation. Diffuse Cananga, alone or within a blend, to help melt away anxious feelings. Add to a soothing bath, allowing a few drops to mix with the warm water and surround the body in relaxation. Consider applying it topically to the wrists or bottoms of feet to let it do its calming work, especially near bedtime. What do you think would happen if you combined serene Cananga with Lavender, another famous calming oil, and diffused them together into a space thick with tension? Ah, the restful possibilities! Inhale the aroma deeply, and don’t underestimate the capability of Cananga to impact your mood positively.
Another area for Cananga to perform at its best is on the ever-important organ called skin. This oil has a balancing and stimulating effect, making it a great choice for helping to soothe irritated areas. For those lucky enough to get their hands on a bottle of Cananga as a single oil, dilute a few precious drops with Fractionated Coconut Oil and apply topically to support healthy, clearer skin.
With its interesting chemistry, in combination with the fact that it often hides out within calming blends and avoids the spotlight, Cananga remains a bit mysterious. Although it is steam distilled from tropical yellow flowers that appear identical to the ones that produce Ylang Ylang essential oil, it turns out there are important differences leading to distinct uses for these close relatives. Keep your eye out for Cananga, and let it serve to remind you that each oil’s specific chemistry is what allows it to offer such unique benefits.