Litsea Cubeba Essential Oil

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

An essential oil is a very concentrated volatile substance that is extracted from the flowers, leaves, roots, bark, seeds, or stem of a plant. The oils give plants their unique aroma, and they are stored in tiny compartments in the flowers, seeds, or leaves usually.

The Role of Oils in Plants

The Role of Oils in Plants

  • They protect the plant from harmful organisms and from pests and other predators.
  • Their aroma attracts insects like bees that will help the plant to pollinate and reproduce.
  • The oil can prevent other competing plants from growing too close to them.

But oils don’t just benefit plants, they can provide us with some amazing therapeutic benefits. The oils are made up of tiny molecules that can easily absorb into the skin and even cross the blood-brain barrier.

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years to improve wellbeing, and many different cultures have them in perfumes, beauty products, healing rituals, and natural medicines.

The Importance of Using Pure Oils

The Importance of Using Pure Oils

To get the best therapeutic benefits from oils, you should aim to use the purest oils you can find. Many oils have added synthetic fragrances, or they are adulterated with cheaper oils to make them go further. There is more of a risk of adverse effects with these oils. Unfortunately, as essential oils aren’t regulated, companies can advertise their products as 100% pure when they’re not.

Traditionally, certain essential oil application methods have been preferred or used exclusively. However, as the research surrounding essential oils continues to develop, a greater understanding of application methods is now understood. All application methods are safe when used appropriately, including aromatic, topical, and internal methods. One or multiple application methods can be used for a wide range of emotional and physical wellness applications. They can be used a single oil at a time or in complex blends in one of three methods:

How to Use Essential Oils

A Botanical Blast from the Past

Inhalation

inhalation

Inhaling an oil causes the scent receptors in the nose to be triggered, and the oil droplets are carried to the brain where they act on the limbic system that governs mood and emotion. This is why oils are so effective at altering the mood, and several studies have found them to be effective at treating anxiety and depression. Some oils can uplift you and some can relax you, and you can get some that can do both! You can put oils into a diffuser, inhale them from a bottle, a handkerchief or even the palm of your hand.

You can also make a mist by mixing the oil with water and spraying it on your linen or just around the room. It’s also a lovely fragrant addition to your laundry, or as an alternative to chemical-based household cleaners.

Topical Application

Topical Application

Applying oils to the skin is effective because the small molecules of oil can easily penetrate the skin and disperse to where they are needed in the body. Using an oil in massage increases the circulation and increases the absorption of the oils. Diluting the oil with a carrier oil also increases absorption and makes the oil much less likely to cause a skin reaction.

Start using a small amount of oil when you first try it, and to reduce the risk of skin irritation, test a small amount of oil on the skin of your upper arm. Apply oils to the neck, forehead, chest, abdomen, arms, legs, and soles of the feet to get the benefits, but avoid the eyes, ears, genitals, and any areas of broken or damaged skin.

Add some oil to your bath, make a hot or cold compress by soaking a cloth in water with the oil added and applying it to the affected area, or add it to your favourite body lotion.

Litsea Cubeba Oil

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Litsea Cubeba Oil

Litsea cubeba is the scientific name for May Chang, which is a tree that belongs to the Lauraceae family. The tree grows to a height of 5-8 metres. The tree has whitish-yellow flowers that have a citrus fragrance and it produces fruits that look like peppers. The fruits are spherical in shape and are green in colour, though they turn red then dark brown as they ripen. The oil comes from the dried fruits of the tree mainly, though the oil can also be obtained from the flowers, bark, roots, and leaves too. You might also see the plant being referred to as the mountain pepper or the Chinese pepper, and it is native to the south of China, Indonesia, and other regions of southeast Asia. It is also grown in Japan and Taiwan, though China is easily the largest exporter of the plant’s oil. The oil’s scent is a little like lemongrass.

History of Litsea Cubeba Oil

History of Litsea Cubeba Oil

This oil was not available in the west until the 1950’s, when it was used in soaps, fragrances, and flavourings. It was a suitable alternative to lemongrass oil.

Traditional Uses and Benefits of Litsea Cubeba Essential Oil

How to Use Essential Oils

The essential oil has been shown to be effective for treating high blood pressure, heart problems, nerve disorders, and it has even been shown to kill lung cancer cells. Its fresh, stimulating scent means that it is very effective at lifting the mood and boosting energy.

All parts of the plant have been traditionally used to relieve asthma, back pain, digestive problems, menstrual problems, headaches, and muscle aches.

It has been shown to reduce excessive perspiration, so it has been used as a natural deodorant, and when inhaled, it can open up the airways to benefit people suffering from asthma, allergies, and other respiratory complaints.

In Chinese Medicine, the oil is often blended with other medicines and used as a throat gargle, though the oil should generally never be ingested. Chinese medicine practitioners all use the oil to regulate blood pressure and the heart rate.

The Beneficial Properties of Litsea Cubeba Oil

The Beneficial Properties of Litsea Cubeba Oil

The oil has antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, and has been found to be effective in the treatment of colds and other infections. Here are just some of the amazing benefits and uses of the oil:

It Can Fight Infections

It Can Fight Infections

Litsea cubeba’s antibacterial and antiviral properties make it very effective against common infections like cold and cough. Try adding a few drops into a diffuser to treat and prevent respiratory infections. The oil is also a potent antifungal agent so it can easily get rid of persistent and sometimes hard to treat fungal infections like athlete’s foot.

It Promotes a Healthy Mind

It Promotes a Healthy Mind

Studies have shown that the oil can reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. It can be very useful for treating stress, anger, depression, and irritability. Use the oil in a diffuser, add it to your bath, or use it as a massage oil to get rid of the stresses of the day.

The lemony fragrance means that the oil is often used in perfumes, soaps, and other cosmetics, and for good reason. The scent can boost mental alertness and energy. Just add 2 drops of the oil to a diffuser, or apply it to a handkerchief so you can give yourself a boost on the go.

It’s Great for Skin

It's Great for Skin

The oil is a natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and astringent agent, so it’s perfect if you have oily or acne prone skin. It can reduce breakouts and heal existing pimples.

Mix 7 drops of litsea cubeba with 1 oz jojoba oil and dab it on affected areas twice per day.

It Can Treat Body Odour

It Can Treat Body Odour

The oil can treat excessive perspiration, and its antibacterial action can prevent an overgrowth of bacteria on the skin which can lead to body odour. Add a few drops of the oil to your regular body lotion and it will act as a natural deodorant with no added chemical nasties!

The Oil Can Be Used Around the Home

The Oil Can Be Used Around the Home

The oil is a potent disinfectant, and you can use it on its own or combine it with tea tree oil to make a very effective household cleaner for worktops, showers, and toilets. It will also make your house smell fresh and clean. Now there’s no need for all those cleaning products that are packed with harsh chemicals.

It Aids Digestion

It Aids Digestion

The oil is used in Chinese medicine to help promote healthy digestion and reduce gas. It can stimulate the digestion and can help those with a poor appetite to feel hungry. For healthy digestion, mix 3 drops of the oil with 15 drops of sesame oil and massage the blend into the abdomen, or add a few drops of your bath water.

It Can Fight Fatigue

It Can Fight Fatigue

Researchers have found that the oil is effective in fighting fatigue. The fresh, stimulating, and uplifting scent can really boost mental and physical energy when inhaled from the bottle, or from a tissue.

It Can Combat Athlete’s Foot

It Can Combat Athlete's Foot

The oil is a natural antifungal and antibacterial, so it’s excellent for treating athlete’s foot, ringworm, and other stubborn fungal infections. Add 5-6 drops of the oil to a suitable carrier oil and massage it into the affected areas. If the problem is athlete’s foot, add the oil to a foot bath to get rid of any infection.

It’s a Great Pain Reliever

It's a Great Pain Reliever

The oil boosts the circulation, reduces inflammation, and eliminates toxins from the body. Blend 2-3 drops of the oil with 20 drops of coconut oil, then use it in a massage or on a hot or cold compress to treat a headache, muscle pain, and arthritis.

It Can Help to Treat the Symptoms of Asthma

It Can Help to Treat the Symptoms of Asthma

The oil has been used for thousands of years to treat respiratory conditions like asthma. It helps to open up the airways, especially if it is put into a diffuser.

Backache

Backache

Because the oil is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and a relaxant, it can both help to relieve back pain and relax any associated muscle tension. Back pain is a big cause of absence from work, and using the oil topically or in the bath is a good alternative to taking painkillers which can have undesirable side effects.

It Can Help to Regulate the Heart Rate

It Can Help to Regulate the Heart Rate

For people who have an irregular heart rate, the oil can help to normalise the heart rate when it is inhaled, according to research.

It Can Regulate Blood Pressure Too

It Can Regulate Blood Pressure Too

Litsea cubeba essential oil can regulate the blood pressure, according to practitioners of Chinese medicine. The oil can be inhaled or added to the bath for best results. It’s the oils relaxing and anti-inflammatory properties that help to relax the blood vessels and so lower the blood pressure.

The Oil Also Repels Insects

The Oil Also Repels Insects

The oil’s scent is unpleasant to insects, so if bugs are the bane of your life in the summer, it’s a new weapon in your arsenal. Apply the oil to cotton wool balls or tissues, and leave them around the entrance to your home. You can also mix it with water in a spray bottle to create a repellent spray. You can also add the oil to your shampoo, skin care products, and bath water to leave the scent on your skin. This will be enough to deter insects.

It Can Dampen the Immune Response to Allergies

Allergy Relief

The oil can help to clear the airways and promote balance in the body, by keeping bacteria and fungus at bay. It helps the body to fight harmful substances and its anti-inflammatory properties help to dampen the immune reaction to allergens. If you suffer from allergies, you will know the misery of symptoms like itching and sneezing, imagine if inhaling or diffusing a simple oil could banish this, without the need to take antihistamines that can cause undesirable side effects.

As well as preventing allergic reactions, the oil can help to treat symptoms of allergic reaction like respiratory issues and skin inflammation.

It Can Banish Nausea

It Can Banish Nausea

Whether nausea is caused by travel sickness, pregnancy, or a stomach upset, inhaling the oil can really help to relieve it. If it is caused by a stomach upset, gently massaging the oil into the abdomen is effective to settle it too.

It Can Treat Headaches

It Can Treat Headaches

Inhaling the oil can help to banish headaches, by relieving the pain, and relaxing you, so your muscles don’t feel so tense. Apply a few drops of the oil to a compress and apply it to the forehead, or inhale it from a handkerchief. Resting on your bed and diffusing the oil in the room can really help too.

It can be used in an oil burner mixed with a few drops of mandarin essential oil to create a natural and uplifting room freshener.

Add 5-10 drops to hot bath water, or sprinkle into shower steam before getting in for an at-home spa experience.

A few drops can be added to candles or lotion to provide an insect repellent.

How to Use the Oil

How to Use the Oil

Bath & Shower

Bath & Shower

Inhale the aromatic stream while your skin absorbs all the benefits of the oil. For adults, add up to 5 drops in 2 tbsp bath oil, shower gel, full fat milk or carrier oil. For children over 2 years old or adults with sensitive skin, reduce the amount to up to 2 drops per 2 tbsp.

Inhalation

Inhalation

 

This technique helps to clear your head and nose. For adults, add 4–6 drops to a bowl of steaming water, place a towel over your head and breathe. Children over 2 years old, adults with sensitive skin and asthmatics should not inhale directly. Instead, place the bowl of hot water with added oils in the room nearby.

Massages

Massages

Massage helps to cleanse your body and mind while helping to ease aching muscles. For adults, add 1–3 drops in a diffuser or burner. For children over 2 years old, adults with sensitive skin or if applying to the face, add 1–3 drops in a diffuser.

Diffusers and Oil Burners

Diffusers and Oil Burners

Using an oil in a diffuser is a great way of cleaning the air and creating a pleasant ambiance. Place up to 3 drops of the oil in your diffuser or burner, so it disperses throughout a room and has the desired effect.

Storing the Oil

Storing the Oil

Always store the oil in a glass container, ideally made from dark glass, as sunlight and oxygen can affect the compounds in the oil and make them less effective, especially the antioxidants.

Is Litsea Cubeba Safe?

Safety Precautions

Like any other oil, it may be natural, but it needs to be treated with respect and used correctly.

Avoid using it near the eyes, ears, and any areas of sensitive or broken skin.

Speak to your doctor before using the oil, especially if you have any existing health condition, or you are taking medication.

Don’t use the oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Keep the oil away from children and pets as the oil can be toxic if ingested.

Always dilute the oil before using it on the skin, as using it neat can cause a skin reaction. If you are unsure about how your skin will tolerate the oil, do a patch test on the skin of your upper arm. Be especially cautious if you have sensitive skin.

 

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.