What Is Orange Essential Oil Used for Emotionally?
Surprisingly, sweet orange is the single biggest selling oil on the planet, far outstripping lavender, tea tree and eucalyptus, so what is everyone using it for? Well, a large volume of oil goes to the flavorings industry but in aromatherapy it is one of the most important oils for treating anxiety and depression (1).
Compare for a moment, lavender, which is relaxing and sedative. The purple flower eases anxiety, but it also lulls us off to sleep. Orange is unusual because it is uplifting and invigorating, instilling a far more carefree and “can-do” attitude about life. It calms us, but it’s merrier, more likely to make us want to get up and dance than meander off to the land of nod.
In Ancient China, where the tree probably originated, the orange has long been associated with love and romance. The more valuable neroli oil is distilled from the fragrant petals of the tree. Orange blossom was the traditional flower for bridal bouquets and marital beds. Neroli essential oil too, is delicate, innocent, and soft. Orange essential oil is richer, a bit more knowing and deliberate somehow, and ancient spells suggest ladies should add orange to their bathwater to look and feel more attractive.
I often think of the seventeenth century heroine, Nell Gwynn who enticed her way from a backstreet house in Hereford (supposedly, she was born just down the road from me) into the arms, then the bed of Charles II of England. She, however, unlike other mistresses of the era, was not relegated to the backrooms, instead was introduced to court, gave the king children who in turn were granted titles. Not bad going for a Covent Garden orange seller whose mother died drunk in a ditch! How much did her innate perfume of rich Seville oranges beguile and enchant a king to fall under her spell, I wonder!
Perhaps more than one might think, because the essential oil is extracted from the peel of the fruit, so it would have been permanently on her hands. Nell had been an orange seller at Drury Lane theatre when she had met her previous suiter Charles Hart, who had subsequently trained her to become an actress. Quickly successful, the London diarist Samuel Pepys called her “Pretty, witty Nell” as she schmoozed her way through society. Did oranges play a part in making the step from theatre to court?
As she handled oranges, might some of that same oil, transferred onto her skin, gently be passed across to the King of England’s complexion as she fleetingly caressed his face. Inhaling the elixir, just as we inhale it today, did his inhibitions fall away? Romance blossomed after he saw the aspiring actress perform in the theatre in 1668, just two years after his country had been ravaged by plague and then London was burned to a crisp in the Great Fire. His Majesty must have been wearied by the pressures of being king and luckily for him, sweet orange rejuvenates, like no other oil. It is like a short sharp shock of optimism. It’s a smile you cannot contain. It chases away melancholy, instilling playful but decisive demeanor. It is motivating, focusing and hopeful. Very easy, I am sure for the monarch to be unsure of exactly what he found himself so drawn to. Surely, it couldn’t have been the smell of oranges….could it?
It’s not without the realms of possibility that the orange seller turned actress used the oil to purify those looks that keep her so very much in demand. Orange oil has the most extraordinary effect on the skin, brightening and tightening the complexion. Astringent, it wipes away grease and grime but also brings the most glorious glow to the skin. Add a drop of orange oil to your regular moisturiser, or a drop into your toner to support a more radiant skin care regime.
Now, while orange is not aphrodisiac oil in its own right, its happy vibration of gay abandon blends well with ylang ylang, sandalwood, or jasmine each of which give a rather more oo-la-la feel to the evening. Picture, if you will, a day breathing bright sunshine fragrances of orange from an aromapendant, then lowering yourself into a warm seductive bath laced with just one drop, then rubbing your lover down with such a seductive oil. It’s the kind of day we all live for really, isn’t it?
Sorcery, ladies, that’s what it is! I won’t tell if you don’t!
What’s more, could our buxom beauty Nell Gwynn have been completely aware of her intent, all along? I couldn’t help but wonder about it, when I saw a study released in 2014, identifying exactly what part of the limbic system the orange essential oil affected. (2)
The limbic system is a primitive part of our brain, which might be the most ancient structure of our thinking mind. It processes our sense of smell but runs through the same structures of our brain that rule cognition, memories, and emotion. In this Chinese trial, 20 female students were exposed for 90 seconds to air that had been saturated with orange oil. Their brain scans showed the prefrontal cortex was activated making them feel more relaxed and comfortable.
But, the pre-frontal cortex does more. It contributes to developing personality, making us feel more confident; so does orange. It regulates impulse control, and strangely orange makes us feel more liberated and carefree. It helps us to plan and coordinate complex thoughts (3), and again orange is extraordinarily good for helping us to get our thoughts in order.
Did she plan it? In fact, now she was treading the boards, did she even handle the oranges now? Incurable romantic, that I am, I am wistful for the tale.
We’ll never know, of course. But I’m willing to bestow our folk heroine with enough guile to suggest, she may have had at least some inking of what her perfume was capable of.
Blending with Sweet Orange Essential Oil
Blending Note: Top
Method of Extraction: Expression from the Rind.
Blends well with: other citrus top notes, spices like cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Floral heart notes like geranium, lavender, jasmine and ylang ylang, or herbals like clary sage, rosemary or basil. Lovely base note woods like sandalwood, cedarwood and resins like myrrh.
Cautions of Sweet Orange Oil
Orange essential oil is safe after 16 weeks of pregnancy.
Orange is extracted by means of expression, so the oil is taken from the rind of the fruit, ostensibly by pressing it out. One of the reasons it is so uplifting is it is rich with a chemical group called monoterpenes. These degrade very quickly and so bottles of citrus oils should not be kept for more than 6 months. As the monoterpenes oxides they can cause skin sensitization. If you are reaching the Use By date, use the bottle to wipe down surfaces to act as an antibacterial and cut through grease and grime.
Sweet Orange Essential Oil in the Bath
Only use two or three drops and do not use old oils. This is relaxing and uplifting and rejuvenates after long term stress, illness, or a hangover!!!
Sweet Orange Oil in Massage
Use maximum dilution of 3% (so 3 drops in a teaspoon of oil) to support healthy circulation and as the ultimate pick me up.
Sweet Orange Oil in an Evaporator
Help reduce exam nerves and stress bickering. Calm and instil confidence in those with low self esteem and hear the sighs of home sweet home. Orange is a safe place, that everyone enjoys.
- The metabolic responses to aerial diffusion of essential oils. Wu Y1, Zhang Y, Xie G, Zhao A, Pan X, Chen T, Hu Y, Liu Y, Cheng Y, Chi Y, Yao L, Jia W. s.l. : PLoS One, 2012.
- garashi M, Ikei H, Song C, Miyazaki Y. Effects of olfactory stimulation with rose and orange oil on prefrontal cortex activity. s.l. : Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2014.
- Prefrontal Cortex. Good Therapy. [Online] 02 12, 2017. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/prefrontal-cortex.
Written by The Secret Healer -Elizabeth Ashley LJBSA (Hons) Adv. (Dist)
Copyright Terroma 2017