May Chang Essential Oil

Type of plant: Shrubby tree growing to 35 feet high, with slender bright-green leaves and fluffy white or pale-yellow lemon-scented flowers and small pepper-like fruits

Part used: Ripe berries and leaves

Method of extraction: Steam distillation

Data: Native mostly to mountainous areas of China, Taiwan, and Indonesia but now grown commercially elsewhere. All parts of this tree are used. The fruits are green when unripe, turning red then dark brown when ripe. They’re made into a hot spice in Asia; the flowers are used as flavoring for medicinal tea; while the branches and roots are valued in traditional Chinese medicine. The essential oil is a popular component of citrus-type perfumes. It’s also processed commercially to obtain pure citral.

Principal places of production: China, Taiwan, Indonesia

When buying look for: A pale-yellow to yellow liquid with a sweet, herbaceous, intensely fruity, citrus aroma

Therapeutic properties: Anthelmintic, antidepressant, antifungal, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, carminative, circulatory, insect deterrent, sedative, stimulant

Therapeutic uses: Cellulite, stomachache, abdominal cramp, indigestion, muscular aches and pain, tendonitis, arthritis, rheumatism, problematic skin conditions — acne, pimples, boils — circulation conditions, nervous tension, anxiety, stress

Blends well with: Basil linalol, black pepper, cananga, cedarwood, chamomile german, chamomile maroc, coriander seed, cypress, eucalyptus radiata, frankincense, geranium, ginger, marjoram (sweet), orange (sweet), palmarosa, peppermint, petitgrain, rosemary, thyme linalol, vetiver, ylang ylang

Precautionary advice: May cause irritation on highly sensitive skins; a patch test is advisable. Best avoided during pregnancy.