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"Libraries: The medicine chest of the soul."
Library at Thebes, inscription over the door
Neroli essential oil, also called orange blossom, is a sensual and seductive oil used in aromatherapy, with a number of other healing properties too.
Alternative Names for Neroli Oil
Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara) essential oil is also known as Orange Flower oil or Orange Blossom; the name neroli is derived from an Italian princess of Nerola who used the essential oil as a perfume, in particular to scent gloves which was the fashion at that particular time in history.
Use of Neroli Oil by Brides
Neroli is reputed to be an aphrodisiac with an ability to calm the nerves before any sexual activity. It was used to soothe the nerves of anxious Victorian brides by the placement in both the bridal head dress and in the bridal bouquet; neroli was said to calm the newly married couple before retiring to the marriage bed. In southern Europe, neroli flowers are still placed in bridal bouquets.
Botanical Profile of Neroli
Neroli belongs to the Rutaceae plant family; in aromatherapy, neroli essential oil is steam distilled, or obtained through enfleurage, of the fresh flowers of the evergreen orange tree. The scent of the neroli flower is rapidly lost, once it is removed from the tree, so the flowers are picked at sun rise, two to three times a week and quickly distilled to maintain the fragrance.
The tree grows up to 33 feet high and has scented white flowers with dark green leaves; the orange tree also produces bitter orange (Citrus aurantium var amara) and petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var amara) essential oils from the fruit and leaves/twigs of the tree respectively. The orange tree was originally a native of the Far East, but is now found growing in the Mediterranean; major producers of neroli essential oil include Italy, the United States, France, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.
Adulteration of Neroli Oil
Neroli essential oil is frequently adulterated; this means that other chemicals or ingredients may be added or substituted in the oil which then alters the therapeutic properties of the oil. Neroli essential oil is also often confused with Neroli absolute which does not possess the same fragrance or color.
The flowers of the sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) tree produce an essential oil but this oil is not the same, or of such a high quality, as that produced by the bitter orange (Citrus aurantium var amara) tree. In addition, the sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) tree produces an absolute called Neroli Portugal (Neroli petalae) which is less fragrant and not of the same quality as that produced by the bitter orange (Citrus aurantium var amara) tree.
Use of Neroli Essential Oil in Aromatherapy
Neroli is anti-bacterial, digestive, anti-depressive, anti-septic, a deodorant and an aphrodisiac; it is used to treat depression, shock, anxiety, hysteria, insomnia, fatigue, colitis, varicose veins and hypertension. Neroli is also very useful in skin care; it rejuvenates the complexion and improves very dry or mature skin.
Other Uses of Neroli
Neroli is frequently used in perfumery work; Neroli absolute, produced by the solvent extraction of the fresh orange blossom flowers, is used in many expensive fragrances, especially those which are floral, citrus and oriental in fragrance. The distillation of neroli essential oil produces a by-product of orange flower water; both orange flower water and neroli oil are used in the flavoring of pharmaceutical products.
- Lawless, Julia 1995 The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils London, UK: Element
This article was written by Sharon Falsetto and appeared in its original format on Suite101 as Orange Blossom Essential Oil
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