Tag Archives: aphrodisiac essential oil

Lotus Oil and Its Ancient Uses in Meditation

Lotus Oil and Its Ancient Spiritual UsesPeople in the West may be familiar with the lotus as an ornamental aquatic flower, but in Asia the uses of these sacred flowers go far beyond decorating one’s backyard pond. The lotus is revered throughout East and South Asia as a symbol of non-attachment, purity, and spiritual awakening, and lotus absolute oil is commonly used as an anointing oil prior to meditation and spiritual work.

The lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) is an aquatic plant in the family Nelumbonaceae. Commonly mistaken for the related water lily, the lotus can be distinguished by the large yellow seedpod in the center of its blossom, which lilies lack. Known variously as blue lotus, sacred lotus, Indian lotus, and bean of India, lotuses have broad flower petals that can be blue, white or pink, with yellow stamens and seed pods that dry to green or black. Lotuses float atop the water on a pad-like round leaf, anchored to the soil of the lake or river bottom by a long stem. They thrive in ponds and slow-flowing rivers with lots of rich silty soil [1].

Because it floats above the silt and muck of the water—which represents earthly, material life—lotuses have become a potent symbol of non-attachment and spiritual purity in Buddhism and Hinduism: deities and enlightened figures such as the Buddha, Vishnu, Lakshmi, and Ganesha have been depicted sitting on or holding lotus flowers in South and East Asian religious art. Iconography and mantras intended to focus and attune the mind to the sacred often make use of lotus imagery, and its expanding, rising petals are thought to symbolize the promise of spiritual growth[1].

Almost every part of the lotus also serves an earthly use in cuisine and medicine throughout Asia. In Vietnam, lotus roots are commonly cooked or pickled with sugar, chilies and garlic to make a relish, while the seeds are dried and then popped like popcorn[1]. In China and Japan, lotus seeds are soaked in water and then mashed into a paste to flavor sweets such as mooncakes and daifuku (glutinous rice flour buns)[1]. Though rarely eaten, lotus leaves are sometimes also used as a wrap in savory dishes.

In China, Japan, and Korea, lotus flowers and stamens are dried and used like jasmine flowers to flavor green tea, or to make a herbal tisane. Lotus flower tea is used in Chinese medicine as an analgesic[2] and for its sedating[3] and antidepressant properties[4]. The seeds and seedpod have also been used medicinally to treat fevers, encourage the onset of sleep, staunch bleeding, and treat diarrhea, syphilis and hemorrhoids[5].

Lotus absolute oil is a relatively new addition to the aromatherapy world. However, it quickly found a niche as a sumptuous perfume and massage oil that is especially prized for its hypnotic and aphrodisiac effects[6]. Made from the petals using cold CO2 extraction, lotus absolute oil is a red-gold viscous liquid possessing an intense floral scent dappled with green notes. On application, its scent often deepens to a sugary musk that blends exceptionally well with other exotic oils such as sandalwood, magnolia, and cedarwood.

Because lotus oil is highly concentrated, a little goes a long way in any therapeutic application: a few drops of the oil diluted in a carrier oil (jojoba or another scentless oil work best) may be used as a massage oil to treat aches and pains, muscle tension, and as a circulatory stimulant [1]. This last action is often thought to be at the root of lotus oil’s stimulating effect on the libido in both men and women!

Using lotus oil can also be as simple as opening the bottle and inhaling it prior to engaging in meditation or another spiritual practice. Lotus oil can be placed in a diffuser to let its warm, grounding scent permeate and purify a space before spiritual work, or a small quantity of diluted lotus oil may be applied to the forehead to open one’s centers of spiritual awareness.


1.”Nelumbo nucifera.” Wikipedia. Accessed April 8th, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelumbo_nucifera.

2. Liao, CH and JY Lin. December 2012. “Purification, partial characterization and anti-inflammatory characteristics of lotus (Nelumbo nucifera Gaert.) plumule polysaccharides.” Food Chemistry 135 (3): 1818-27.

3.Sugimoto, Y., S Furutani, A Itoh, T Tanahashi, H Nakajima, H Oshiro, S Sun, and J Yamada. December 2008. “Effects of extracts and neferine from the embryo of Nelumbo nucifera seeds on the central nervous system.” Phytomedicine 15 (12) 1117-24.

4. Sugimoto, Y., S Furutani, K Nishimura, A Itoh, T Tanahashi, H Nakajima, H Oshiro, S Sun, and J Yamada. May 2010. “Antidepressant-like effects of neferine in the forced-swimming test involve the serotonin 1A (5-HT1A) receptor in mice.” European Journal of Pharmacology 25 (1-3): 62-7.

5. “Lian Zhi – Nelumbo nucifera”. The Jade Institute. Last modified 2007. http://www.jadeinstitute.com/jade/herbal-detail-page.php?show=115&order=common_name.

6. Vahitha, SM, V Banumathi, J Anbu, Ashwini Anjana, and M. Pitchiah Kumar. October-December 2012. “Aphrodisiac activity of  Venthamarai Magarantha Chooranam (stamens of Nelumbo nucifera white variety) on healthy Wistar albino rats.” International Journal of Life Science and Pharma-Research 2(4): 44-50. http://www.ijlpr.com/admin/php/uploads/156_pdf.pdf.

Spiritual Uses of Jasmine Oil

Spiritual Uses of Jasmine OilIn India and throughout the Himalayas region, jasmine is a sacred flower associated with love, sensuality and spiritual awakening: garlands of jasmine flowers are offered to Hindu deities such as Kama, the god of love, and given to bridal couples to ensure their love lasts. Jasmine’s wonderful ability to calm the mind and bring balance to turbulent emotions has created a strong basis for the many spiritual uses of jasmine oil in South Asia. Jasmine is probably best known in the West as an aphrodisiac oil for both men and women, but the physical and spiritual uses of jasmine oil go far beyond that. Read on to learn about jasmine’s healing actions on the mind and spirit!

Jasmine holds the same status as a symbol of love in the East as does the luscious rose in the West. Hindu legends connect jasmine with undying love, sometimes in tragic ways: for instance, one legend tells of an Indian princess who falls in love with Surya-Deva, the sun god; when he rejects her, she is so heartbroken that she dies of grief. Upon cremation, her ashes are scattered and the jasmine flower grows up where they land. Because the sun spurned her, jasmine flowers open only at night to release their delicate perfume. Another myth relates that Kama, the Hindu analog to Cupid in Roman myth, would drape his arrow tips with jasmine flowers to ensure that they pierced the human heart and filled it with love.

When the effects of pure jasmine oil on the emotions are examined, it’s no wonder this flower has so long been associated with love and compassion, including the kind of cosmic compassion that is so valued in Eastern spiritual practice. Jasmine oil is listed as a calming sedative in aromatherapy, but some research has suggested that jasmine oil also activates beta waves in the brain—the type of brainwaves that indicate feelings of alertness.

Because of jasmine oil’s ability to promote calm alertness, one of the invaluable spiritual uses of jasmine oil is in helping those struggling with emotional issues to sort out their feelings in a tranquil, self-aware manner. Jasmine oil can be used to help someone confront emotional dilemmas, especially those that relate to love and relationships; to address states of shock, trauma, emotional stress, low self esteem, or body image issues. Overall, jasmine oil seems to offer the emotions a reset button, helping the user gain clearheadedness and perspective when they have become demotivated, mentally lethargic, or discouraged for any reason.

When employed in meditation, a common spiritual use of jasmine oil is to balance the body’s chakras—collection points of energy throughout the body in Hindu and Buddhist practice. As an anointing oil, jasmine is used to faciltate the opening of the third eye chakra, as well as the sacral chakra. The third eye chakra, located in the forehead, is associated with the pineal gland—the symbolic seat of wisdom, imagination, creativity, and clairvoyance. As you might expect, the sacral chakra, located around the sacrum or tailbone, is associated with sensuality, being in touch with the physical body, and being comfortable in one’s own skin. Jasmine oil tends to be quite yang, meaning it encourages outwardly directed energy, helping the practitioner to put themselves forward and be more confident in who they are.

We will leave you today with Peter Holmes’ beautiful invocation on the value of pure jasmine oil for universal healing in Western society: “We’re all survivors of trauma. Western culture has a deep need for jasmine. Our individual sensual repression and our social sensual deprivation in the alienated Western lifestyle cry out for the sensuous euphoria that jasmine provides. The Queen of the Night can connect us to the feminine source of life, presently stirring from a deep unconscious sleep. Her night-blooming pearls can lead us once again to the fragrant dawn we yearn for.”

From Peter Holmes. “Jasmine: The Queen of the Night” in International Journal of Aromatherapy 8 (4): 8-12.

Indian Natural Essential Oils

Ayurvedic spaIndia is one of the epicenters of herbal medicine, with an Ayurvedic tradition that is thousands of years old, so it’s no surprise that Indian natural essential oils are some of the most highly valued in aromatherapy. At the Essential Oil Exchange, we strive to honor the historical and cultural context of the essential oils we offer. Below, we take a closer look at the four Indian natural essential oils that have stood the test of time as healing agents in Ayurveda and beyond.

Sandalwood: (Santalum album) Sandalwood is a parasitic evergreen tree with smooth, brownish gray bark and small purple or white flowers. Extremely long lived, sandalwood trees must be allowed to reach at least 30 years of age (and preferably 60 years) before their wood can be harvested. Also called aloeswood in the Hindu scriptures, the woody-balsamic aroma of sandalwood essential oil has been associated with feelings of the sacred and is commonly used in meditation to ground the psyche and create a sense of being connected to the universe. Sandalwood oil is also burned in Hindu temples and used as an anointing oil to open the third eye chakra—the center of intuition, clairvoyance, and imagination.

Therapeutically, sandalwood essential oil can work wonders in balancing skin that is either too dry or too oily [1]. The oil may also soothe sensitive or irritated skin, reduce the appearance of stretch marks and scars [1], elevate mood, and increase mental focus [2]. It is also notably used as an aphrodisiac [2], along with jasmine and patchouli oil.

Indian Natural Essential Oils

Sandalwood incense is world famous for its pure, grounding scent.

Vetiver: (Vetiveria zizanoides) A hardy grass whose roots anchor the soil around rivers and watercourses, vetiver is also the source of a thick, viscous essential oil. Vetiver essential oil, distilled from the plant’s fibrous roots, is used in up to 25% of all Western perfumes both as a fixative and for its slightly sweet, earthy, almost animalic scent. In India, screens and mats woven from vetiver grass are used to repel insects; water can also be sprinkled on vetiver grass screens to create fragrant, cooling breezes.

Vetiver oil is used in aromatherapy to ease states of nervousness, promote calm, and address occasional sleeplessness [3]. Aromatherapists have even explored the calming effects of vetiver oil for panic attacks and and flashbacks [4]. In massages, the oil may be used as a tonic for mature skin, to speed wound healing and reduce scarring, and to treat eczema and irritated skin [3]. The smell of vetiver oil acts to open the root chakra, increasing feelings of groundedness and security.

A single blade of fresh vetiver grass.

A single blade of fresh vetiver grass.

Patchouli: (Pogostemon cablin) Anyone familiar with the hippy era of the ‘60s is probably also familiar with patchouli essential oil. Though it became popular in that back-to-nature era as an earthy fragrance with aphrodisiac qualities, patchouli has an even longer history in India. Patchouli is a large herbaceous shrub in the mint family, with serrated green leaves and small white or pink flowers. Its name probably comes from the Sanskrit words patch and ilai, together meaning “green leaf”. Patchouli leaves were used as a wound poultice in India because of their antiseptic and anti-infectious properties [5], and were also placed in clothing chests to drive off textile moths. During British rule in India, clothing imports often came packed with patchouli leaves to protect them enroute; as the fragrance became associated with expensive Asian goods, merchants started scenting their wares with patchouli oil to give them a more “exotic” feel—even if they weren’t imported!

Like most other Indian natural essential oils, patchouli oil has a roster of benefits for the skin, including toning mature skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and moisturizing dry skin [6]. The scent of patchouli oil is rich and earthy: just inhaling it can have positive calming and stress-reducing effects [6]. For this reason, patchouli oil can also be used to center the mind before meditation. Patchouli opens the heart and sacral chakras, enabling the practitioner to let go of obsessions, jealousies and insecurities.

Patchouli delivers diverse benefits to the skin when used in spa treatments.

Patchouli delivers diverse benefits to the skin when used in spa treatments.

Spikenard: (Nardostachys jatamansi) Sometimes called Indian valerian because of its similar calming properties, the aromatic roots of spikenard have been used as an incense by Buddhist monks and Nepalese shamans literally for thousands of years. A montane plant native to the Himalayas between altitudes of 11,000 and 17,000 feet, spikenard has been used in India as a perfume, skin tonic, and medicinal plant for supporting the immune system [7]. Spikenard has an especially long spiritual history in both South Asia and the West: spikenard oil appears in the Bible multiple times, most notably as an ingredient in the ointment used to anoint Jesus’ feet at the Last Supper.

Indian Natural Essential Oils

A botanical color plate of a spikenard plant in bloom.

Spikenard essential oil is frequently added to valerian root essential oil as an adulterant, since the oils have very similar therapeutic actions. In aromatherapy, spikenard oil soothes the mind and helps one to let go of the need for control, a common side effect of a strong will. Spikenard’s grounding effect on the psyche can combat occasional sleeplessness, while its anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic effects are valued in treating migraines and headaches, irritated skin, allergic skin reactions and rashes, wounds, and even dandruff [8]. Used in a meditative practice, spikenard essential oil opens the heart and solar plexus chakras, helping one to be comfortable in their own skin and relax into the present moment.


1.Keville, Kathy. “Aromatherapy: Sandalwood” HowStuffWorks. Accessed May 16th, 2014. http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/aromatherapy/aromatherapy-sandalwood.htm.

2. Wong, Cathy ND. “Sandalwood Essential Oil: What You Need to Know.” Alternative Medicine: About. com. http://altmedicine.about.com/od/aromatherapy/a/Sandalwood-Essential-Oil.htm.

3. “Vetiver Essential Oil: Benefits and Uses”. AromaWeb. Accessed May 15th, 2014. http://www.aromaweb.com/essential-oils/vetiver-oil.asp.

4. “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”. West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy. Accessed May 16th, 2014. http://www.westcoastaromatherapy.com/free-information/articles-archive/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/.

5. Das, Kuntal, Nilesh K. Gupta, S. Vijayabhaskar, and U.M. Manjunath. April-June 2011. “Antimicrobial potential of patchouli oil cultivated under acidic soil zone of South India.” Indian Journal of Novel Drug Delivery 3 (2):104-111.

6. “Patchouli Oil Benefits”. Patchouli Plant .com. Accessed May 14th, 2014. http://www.patchouliplant.com/patchouli-benifits.html.

7. Rowan, Tiffany. “How to Build Your Immune System With Essential Oils.” Accessed May 16th, 2014. http://tiffanyrowan.com/essentialoils/how-to-build-your-immune-system-with-essential-oils-before-the-cold-and-flu-season-hits/.

8. “Health Benefits of Spikenard Essential Oil”. Organic Facts. Accessed May 15th, 2014. http://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-spikenard-essential-oil.html.




Cinnamon Leaf Oil is an Anti-spasmodic with Warming Properties

Cinnamon LeavesWho doesn’t love the spicy, warm fragrance of cinnamon? Whether used in cuisine or aromatherapy, cinnamon’s sweet, pungent, slightly spicy aroma is recognized worldwide. A little-known fact about cinnamon is that two varieties of the oil are used in aromatherapy: we’ve already covered the medicinal uses of cinnamon bark oil, and it is to the gentler but equally effective cinnamon leaf essential oil that we now turn.

Distilled from the leaf of the cinnamon tree (Cinnamomum verum syn. zeylanicum) [1] rather than the bark, cinnamon leaf oil is lighter in color, has a softer scent more reminiscent of cloves, and is less sweet-smelling than the bark oil. Cinnamon leaf essential oil is also more versatile in aromatherapy since it contains smaller amounts of potentially sensitizing compounds such as cinnamaldehyde.

Though the cinnamon tree is native to Indonesia, it is also cultivated in India, Sri Lanka and elsewhere for its bark and leaf. One of the oldest spice commodities, cinnamon was an important trade good between China, India, and the Mediterranean world; it was used as a temple incense in Greece, and the Egyptians used cinnamon oil in foot massages, to ease childbirth, and to stem excess bile that led to indigestion [1]. In the Middle Ages, ground cinnamon was added to mulled wines and was an important aphrodisiac in love potions, probably because of its warming effect. The word cinnamon likely comes from the Greek kinnamon, meaning tube or pipe, a reference to the tube-like appearance of cinnamon sticks [1].

In aromatherapy, cinnamon leaf is considered a tonic for the respiratory, endocrine, and nervous systems, and recent research has found that cinnamon leaf and bark oils have antimicrobial [2] and anti-inflammatory [3] actions. Research is also being done on the potential for supplements of ground cinnamon to regulate blood sugar in diabetics [4].

Though mainly used in diffusion, cinnamon leaf oil is sometimes added to hot baths or compresses in minute quantities. Cinnamon leaf oil may be diffused and inhaled to treat respiratory infections, colds, sneezing, and to alleviate feelings of weakness or low energy [5]. In a warm bath or oil blend, cinnamon leaf essential oil is often used to calm digestive spasms and imbalances in secretions that can cause nausea, diarrhea or indigestion [6]. Cinnamon leaf oil is also used to reduce pain in sore muscles and arthritic joints, to relieve chills, and to treat delayed or painful menstrual flow [5]. Though generally gentler than the bark oil, cinnamon leaf oil may still irritate sensitive skin and should be used very sparingly in any oil blend.


1. “Cinnamon”. Wikipedia. Accessed May 14th, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnamon

2. Chaudhari, LK, BA Jawale, S Sharma, H Sharma, CD Kumar, and PA Kulkarni. Januaru 2012. “Antimicrobial activity of commercially available essential oils against Streptococcus mutans”. Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice 1(13): 71-4.

3. Tung, YT, PL Yen, CY Yin, ST Chang. October 2010. “Anti-inflammatory activities of essential oils and their constituents from different provenances of indigenous cinnamon (Cinnamomum osmophloeum) leaves”. Pharmaceutical Biology 48(10): 1130-36.

4. Subash, Babu P, S Prabuseenivasan, and S Ignacimuthu. January 2007. “Cinnamaldehyde–a potential antidiabetic agent”. Phytomedicine 14 (1):15-22.

5. Lawless, Julia. June 2013. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: the Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils in Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health and Well-Being. Conari Press.

6. “Glossary – Cinnamon Leaf Oil”. TrueNatural. Accessed May 16th, 2014. http://www.truenatural.com/glossary/entry/cinnamon+leaf+oil/.

Ylang Ylang Oil Is the Ultimate Floral Aphrodisiac

Ylang Ylang Oil Is the Ultimate Floral AphrodisiacThe flowers of the small ylang-ylang tree have been used in Asia for centuries to express love in marriage ceremonies.The tree grows in Malaysia, Madagascar, the Philippines, and the Reunion Islands. The name means ‘Flower of Flowers’ and those flowers can be pink, yellow, and mauve. The best oil usually comes from the yellow flowers, which are picked early in the day in early summer.

Ylang-ylang oil qualities vary depending on the distillation segment. The first segment is considered ‘extra’ and is a sought after commodity in the perfume industry. Aromatherapy considers each oil segment useful in various ways, and the healing properties of any of these oils are considered impressive by any standards.

Ylang-ylang oil is used to slow down a rapid heartbeat and rapid breathing, and is thus very useful in trauma and shock situations. Ylang-ylang is also used to condition the skin because it balances natural oil production. The oil has a very distinct sweet aroma, which also acts as a catalyst for sexual passions.

The three aromatherapy oils that are best known for aphrodisiac properties are rose, neroli, and jasmine, but ylang-ylang is also one of the best oils for uplifting the emotions and fueling sexual desire. Ylang-ylang has a calming effect and an incredible floral scent, so it is considered a great aphrodisiac by people who are looking for a natural stimulant that rarely disappoints in terms of rousing the libido.

The chemical compounds in ylang-ylang oil certainly play a role in its ability to interact with hormone secretion. The chemicals found naturally in the oil are linalool, methyl ether, caryophyllene, geranyl acetate, benzyl benzoate, methyl benzoate, benzyl acetate, p-cresyl, and other sesquiterpenes. Those chemicals give the oil aphrodisiac, hypotensive, nervine, antidepressant, sedative, antiseborrhoeic, and antiseptic properties.

The euphoric and sedative effect that ylang-ylang has on the nervous system helps relieve anxiety, tension, fear, shock, and panic. When ylang-ylang oil is massaged into the skin the nervous system relaxes, which means the respiratory and circulatory systems begin to function normally. When the oil is added to a cream or lotion it balances sebum production in the skin. That helps eliminate oily skin and balances overly dry skin as well.

When ylang-ylang oil is blended with essential oils such as lavender, grapefruit, bergamot and sandalwood in aromatherapy, the wellness results are substantially enhanced. Ylang-ylang lives up to its name; it continues to be the ‘flowers of flowers’ that helps people enjoy a healthy sex life and to relax in times of stress.