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Neroli Essential Oil

Neroli essential oil is derived from the bitter orange plant (Citrus aurantium), a large evergreen tree that in sunny climates, can grow up to 26 feet tall.1

Traditionally, the bitter orange fruit has been used in marmalades, while its rind has been used to flavor baked goods.1 Bitter orange was also historically used as an alternative medicine to treat depression, digestive problems and to improve heart health.2

Today, the bitter orange tree is used widely to produce neroli essential oil. This oil is produced when the flowers or peel of the bitter orange fruit are extracted through hydro distillation. The amber colored oil appears red when exposed to light and has a bitter, citrusy aroma.3

Neroli essential oil is now being studied for its many beneficial uses, including its sedative, anti-anxiety, and antihypertensive properties.

Neroli Essential Oil Uses

Neroli essential oil is extremely versatile and can be used for many household purposes such as skin care, aromatherapy, cleaning, massage and as a natural perfume.

Skin Care
Neroli essential oil is excellent for rejuvenating skin because of its anti-oxidant properties.9 To use this oil in your skincare routine, simply add 3 drops of neroli essential oil to 1 ½ Tbsp. of a carrier oil, such as grapeseed or jojoba. Apply the blend directly on to the skin and massage until fully absorbed.

Aromatherapy
For use in aromatherapy, add 3-5 drops of neroli essential oil to a diffuser, and let the steam fill the room. For a homemade diffuser, users can add the same amount of neroli essential oil to 1 cup of boiling water.

Natural Cleaner
With natural antibacterial properties, neroli essential oil may be used as a chemical-free, household cleaner.7 In a spray bottle, add 15 drops of neroli essential oil and 2 cups of water. Gently shake the bottle to mix thoroughly. Mist onto household surfaces and wipe clean with a damp cloth.

Massage
Neroli essential oil may also be used as an invigorating massage oil. Add 3 drops essential oil to 1-2 Tbsp. of carrier oil and rub the mixture directly onto skin.

Perfume
With a distinct, citrusy aroma, neroli essential oil may be worn as a natural perfume. Add 3 drops of essential oil to 1 Tsp. of carrier oil and rub onto the inner wrists and neck. Neroli essential oil can be worn alone or blended with other essential oils, such as patchouli or vanilla.

Benefits of Neroli Essential Oil

In the past decade, neroli essential oil has gained an increasing amount of attention in the scientific community for its potential, therapeutic benefits. To date, these beneficial qualities include antihypertensive, sedative and insecticidal properties, as well as helping to reduce anxiety during labor.

Antihypertensive Properties 
It has been reported that neroli essential oil may aid in reducing blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. A 2012 study examined the effects of mixed oil aromatherapy on the blood pressure of 83 hypertensive and pre-hypertensive patients.4

For this experiment, patients were divided into three groups and observed over the course of 4 weeks. One group was treated with aromatherapy, while the other two groups were treated with a placebo or given no treatment.4

The essential oils of lavenderylang ylangmarjoram, and neroli were mixed and put in a necklace for test group patients to wear, while the placebo group was given a necklace with a simulated fragrance in it. Participants wore this necklace during the day, and at night they slept near a stone containing two drops of the essential oil mix.4

After inhaling the essential oil blend, subjects in the test group were reported to experience a decrease in blood pressure by an average of 4.70/1.21 mm Hg, whereas participants in the placebo group and control group experienced an increase in blood pressure on average.4 

Additionally, those who were treated with the aromatherapy necklace experienced both immediate and long-term benefits, as well as a reduction in stress.4 While data is promising, further research is required. Individuals with hypertension should not use essential oils to replace conventional treatments.

Reduce Labor Anxiety
Neroli essential oil has also been observed to help reduce anxiety during the first stage of labor.

A study published in the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal explored the effects of aromatherapy on naturally occurring anxiety experienced during childbirth. All 216 participants were between 18-35 years old and had uncomplicated pregnancies. They were divided into a control and test group.5

During labor, gauze was attached to the collars of participants. Those in the control group wore gauze containing a saline solution, and those in the test group wore gauze containing 0.13 oz. of neroli essential oil. The gauze was changed every 30 minutes to maintain the aroma.5

Researchers observed that at 3-4 cm dilation, the aromatherapy group had reduced anxiety by an average of 9.84 points and the placebo group had reduced anxiety by an average of only 5.48 points. These results suggest that aromatherapy with neroli essential oil may reduce anxiety during labor when compared to a placebo treatment.5

Sedative Properties
In addition to its other benefits, neroli essential oil has been reported to help improve sleep issues for Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Patients in Intensive Care Units. A 2013 study used a combination of lavender, roman chamomile, and neroli essential oils to test the effects of aromatherapy on sleep quality in participants.6

The experiment included 56 test participants split evenly into a control and experiment group. Sleep quality of the test subjects was evaluated by recording length and soundness of sleep, sleep disturbance, and sleep onset (the shift from wakefulness to sleep).6

The treatment consisted of each participant first using 10 deep breaths to inhale the essential oils, and then placing the oil on a stone, which was kept under the pillow during sleep.6

After treatment, the experimental group had a sleep score of 52.7 and the control group scored 36.2. These findings suggest that aromatherapy with this blend of essential oils may help improve sleep quality.While this 2013 study focused on a specific population, neroli essential oil may also benefit others with sleep issues, but further research is required.

Natural Pesticide Activity 
In 2016, the Journal of Arthropod-Borne Diseases published a study that tested neroli essential oil’s pesticidal properties against mosquito larvae.2

This study used hydro distillation to extract oil from the peel of the bitter orange and then dissolved the essential oil in water and ethanol. Larvae were then exposed to various concentrations of the mixture for 24 hours.2

The study found that at 31.20 ppm the mixture killed 50% of mosquito larvae, and at 73.83 ppm the mixture killed 9% of mosquito larvae. These results are promising and suggest that neroli essential oil may be an effective alternative to chemical pesticides.2

neroli essential oil uses and benefits

Side Effects of Neroli Essential Oil

Neroli essential oil is generally considered safe for inhalation and diluted, topical use. It is also identified as a substance that is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA.8 

It should be noted that neroli essential oil may have phototoxic side effects, or increased sensitivity to UV rays. Do not use neroli essential oil on the skin 24-48 hours prior to sunlight exposure or tanning beds.

Essential oils are highly concentrated and can be harmful or toxic when ingested. Do not ingest neroli essential oil unless under the direct supervision of a health care professional.

Neroli essential oil should not be used on children, pregnant or breastfeeding women. Always read and follow the label instructions.

Where to Buy Neroli Essential Oil

Previously, high quality essential oils could only be bought at specialty health stores, or through
expensive multi-level marketing companies. Now, due to advancements in technology, extremely high grade essential oils can be purchased over the internet at very reasonable prices.

Scientific Research Referenced in this Article

  1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (n.d.). Citrus aurantium. Retrieved April 06, 2017, from http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/cropView?id=711
  2. Sanei-Dehkordi, A., Sedaghat, M., Vatandoost, H., & Reza Abai, M. (2016). Chemical Compositions of the Peel Essential Oil of Citrus aurantium and Its Natural Larvicidal Activity against the Malaria Vector Anopheles stephensi (Diptera: Culicidae) in Comparison with Citrus paradisi. Journal of Arthropod-Borne Diseases,10(4), 577-585. Retrieved March 29, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5186748/.
  3. Namazi, M., Akbari, S. A., Mojab, F., Talebi, A., Majd, H. A., & Jannesari, S. (2014). Aromatherapy With Citrus Aurantium Oil and Anxiety During the First Stage of Labor. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal,16(6). doi:10.5812/ircmj.18371
  4. Kim, I., Kim, C., Seong, K., Hur, M., Lim, H. M., & Lee, M. S. (2012). Essential Oil Inhalation on Blood Pressure and Salivary Cortisol Levels in Prehypertensive and Hypertensive Subjects. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine,2012, 1-9. doi:10.1155/2012/984203
  5. Namazi, M., Akbari, S. A., Mojab, F., Talebi, A., Majd, H. A., & Jannesari, S. (2014). Aromatherapy With Citrus Aurantium Oil and Anxiety During the First Stage of Labor. Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal,16(6). doi:10.5812/ircmj.18371
  6. Cho, M., Min, E. S., Hur, M., & Lee, M. S. (2013). Effects of Aromatherapy on the Anxiety, Vital Signs, and Sleep Quality of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Patients in Intensive Care Units. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine,2013, 1-6. doi:10.1155/2013/381381
  7. Ammar, A. H., Bouajila, J., Lebrihi, A., Mathieu, F., Romdhane, M., & Zagrouba, F. (2012). Chemical Composition and in vitro Antimicrobial and Antioxidant Activities of Citrus aurantium L. Flowers Essential Oil (Neroli Oil). Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences,15(21), 1034-1040. doi:10.3923/pjbs.2012.1034.1040
  8. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2016, April 1). CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21. Retrieved March 29, 2017, from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=182.20
  9. Ao, Y., Satoh, K., Shibano, K., Kawahito, Y., & Shioda, S. (2008). Singlet Oxygen Scavenging Activity and Cytotoxicity of Essential Oils from Rutaceae. Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition,43(1), 6-12. doi:10.3164/jcbn.2008037
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