Plant/Part: Fruit (Source: Asia, especially China)
Latin Name: Litsea cubeba
Extraction: Steam Distillation
AROMA: A sweet citrus and fruity fragrance
PROPERTIES: Antidepressant, antiseptic, astringent, carminative, cordial, galactagogue, hypotensive, insecticide, stimulant, tonic.
CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS: Citral, Dipentene, Linalol, Geraniol.
PRECAUTIONS: Non-toxic, non-irritant and possibly sensitising in some individuals.
BLENDS: Blends well with: Basil, bergamot, geranium, ginger, jasmine, lavender, lemon, neroli, orange, petitgrain, rose, rosemary, rosewood, ylang ylang.
A small tropical tree with fragrant, lemongrass-scented leaves and flowers. It is related to the Laurel, Rosewood and Cinnamon trees. An evergreen tree or shrub. It produces small white flower and a fruit which resembles a pepper corn. The small fruits that it produces are similar to peppers, from which the name 'cubeba' is derived. The essential oil is chemically similar to lemongrass Melissa and other oils rich in citral, and the therapeutic effects are similar to Lemongrass. Its odour, however, is finer than lemongrass, it is more lemon like closer to a true verbena oil, but at a fraction of the cost.It is occasionally referred to as Exotic Verbena or Tropical Verbena, although despite the references to verbena, the plant is not related in any way to true verbena (Lippia citriodora). The association to this name would appear to be due to the similarity in fragrance.
The species Litsea cubeba belongs to the Lauraceae family and is also known as Chinese Pepper and Mountain Pepper. It is a small deciduous tree that grows to a height of 5 to 8 metres (16-26 feet), with a smooth trunk measuring 6-20 centimetres (2.5 to 8 inches) in diameter. The tree bears white or pale yellow, lemon-scented flowers, and small fruits which are similar in shape to small peppers, from which the word ‘cubeb’ is derived. Measuring between 4 to 6 millimetres in diameter, the aromatic fruits are almost spherical in shape and green in colour, turning red then dark brown upon ripening. When dried, these small fruits look like large, dried black peppers and provide the source of May chang essential oil, although oil can also be extracted from the flowers, branches, bark, roots and leaves too. The essential oil derived from these parts of the plant do not have the same odour as the fruits though.
May Chang (Litsea Cubeba) May Chang known as an “Oil of Tranquility” is recognized for its powerful effect in terms of promoting physical relaxation and mental calm. It is recommended for those suffering from work related stress and the “can’t switch off” phenomenon. Historically the oil from this exotic plant has been blended with almond oil and used to perfume the body prior to meditation or prayer in order to impart a sense of strength, calm and mental clarity.
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.
It complements most of the middle notes (herbs and flowers) and works particularly well with Sandalwood or cedar wood. May Chang has a gentle pungency which can be helpful when you wish to cover the scent of an oil which is helpful to the patient but not always appreciated in terms of scent. Tea tree and Clary sage are two contenders.
It injects a stimulating, uplifting atmosphere to a blend. Complemented well by Lavender, Orange, Neroli and Petitgrain.
With the same uplifting, revitalising properties as Bergamot this oil can also be used on greasy skin and hair
Blend with Tea Tree and use in a burner in the home or office during those months when everyday infections are circulating. 1 drop of tea tree to every two drops of May Chang. Use Cedar wood , Lavender and May Chang in equal proportions in a base of almond oil for a massage prior to an important event or challenge.
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