The Essence of Neroli (Orange Blossom)

The Essence of Neroli (Orange Blossom)

From Healing Fragrances - A Practitioners Guide to Aromatherapy
A study of essential oils and their therapies.  Danielle Sade B.Sc., CAHP

Classification of Neroli (Orange blossom)

Botanical family: Rutaceae
Botanical Name: Citrus aurantium var amara (Orange blossom)
Habitat:  Native of India and southern China, the tree has adapted well to the Mediterranean climate. It is now primarily cultivated in Italy, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, France, and the United States.
Extraction:  The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the freshly picked flowers. A concrete and absolute are obtained by solvent extraction of the freshly picked flowers. Orange flower water is the by-products of the distillation.
Precautions:  It is considered non-toxic and non-irritant. Keep away from eyes. Keep away from children. Shelf life is 2 years. Keep cap tightly and store in a cool, dark place.

Description of the Plant:   The bitter orange is an erect tree that ranges in height from 3-9 meters with a compact crown. The dark-green, compound leaves are aromatic, alternate, and ovate with a sharp point at the apex. The highly fragrant, waxy, white flowers, which are in small clusters, have widely separated petals surrounding a tuft of yellow stamens.

History of Neroli (Orange blossom)

There are many historical references on the Neroli blossom as a botanical, a hydrosol and essential oil  The Neroli blossom was first cultivated in the Mediterranean by Arab conquerors in the 10th or 11th century. After the discovery of the New World, it was introduced to the West Indies, and then to North, Central, and South Africa.  

The essential oil and the floral water was used for hundreds of years as perfume and medicine.  It was by Anna Maria de la Tremoille, the Princess of Nerola (Rome) introduced the scent in the 17th century.  The prostitutes in Madrid also used neroli as a personal scent so they would be recognized with the fragrances. 

In 1885 a book was published by J.A. McGill M.D. "The famous specific Orange blossom for all female Diseases.  It mentions using Neroli for Lethargy, weakness, swelling, inflammation and strengthens the nerves.

Mojay mentions in his book The Spirit of Aromatherapy it was as toilet water, Eau du Cologne which was blended with Lavender, Bergamot, Lemon, Rosemary and Neroli as a gentle tonic for the nervous system.

My personal history started with my grandmother using the hydrosol for many maladies such as headaches, stomach upsets and to ease the nerves.  She would sprinkle the water on all of us after fasting on the holiest of days to cleanse and refresh.  I also recall my mother using a popular perfume in the '70s 4711 - which included mostly Neroli.  She would sigh with bliss when she used it.  Neroli has also been an essential oil that has been in the forefront of my Aromatherapy practice, teaching and personal care and well being.  I find that the fresh floral aroma has always supported me through stressful periods and has always been comforting to my skin in personal care products.

Bio-Activity of the individual chemical components of Neroli 

51-55%  Linalool  -  absorbs  through  the  skin,1 relives  anxiety  and depression,2 helps  swelling  and inflammation 3 Analgesic 4 Antimicrobial and enhances anti-microbial activity in other oils 5 Classified as an allergen6

5-6% β-pinene - had high antimicrobial activity against MRSA and MSSA. 7 Antibacterial against
skin infections8 Low risk to have an allergic response9
2-3%  Myrcene  -  Antioxidant  decreases  oxidative  stress10 Promotes  anti-microbial activity  in  other constituents 11 Sedative 12 Non-irritant and non-allergenic13
8-10%LinalylAcetate - Absorbs through the skin.14  Anti-spasmodic15
6-8%α-Terpineol - antibacterial16analgesic17
3-6% Farnesol – Anti-inflammatory18 Antimicrobial19 Anti-inflammatory. 20  Smoothes fine lines and aids in increasing the skin’s elasticity promotes cellular skin regeneration and reduces fine lines.21
5-6%Geraniol - Contributes to the rose scent, antibacterial, antifungal,22 anti-oxidant properties23 relaxes smooth muscles. 24 Skin irritant if it exceeds 5% dilution25

Neroli oil is classified as a soft floral Middle note with antiseptic, antibacterial and relaxing properties. It is an ideal oil to use in skin care due to its ability to help rejuvenate the skin and support the repair process. It was found that when Neroli (Orange blossom) essential oil that slight levels of estrogen would go up in women and also heightening their libido. In perfume blending it is best to use this oil on its own due to its delicate notes will get lost in other aromas. However, essential oils such as Rose Otto, Rose Absolute, Lavender, citrus oils will compliant the subtle scent of Neroli.


Cardiovascular system:  Neroli consists of 40-45% linalool which many studies have proven that it has a calming and relaxing effect on the body.  1-3 drops of inhalation may help control blood pressure by calming the nervous system and help to relieve stress. (Sade)
Muscular Aches and Pains: Inhalation bathing and topical treatment such as perfumes and creams may ease the discomfort of Fibromyalgia and help reduce existential pain. (Sade)                       
Skin Care & Cosmetics:  Neroli's soft perfume scent makes this oil an asset in skin care as a deodoriser and perfume.  It also includes many components that contribute to mild antimicrobial properties. That can be used up to 1-3% in personal care product. (Sade)               
Digestive system:  The digestive system is very much connected to the mind and is disturbed when there is excessive stress.  Symptoms such as bloating, flatulence, constipation and diarrhoea may occur.   Using Neroli as topical and through inhalation may help the above symptoms. (Sade)
Mind & Emotions: Neroli was found to decrease cortisol levels and have a calming effect on the nervous system (Choi 2014).  In classical aromatherapy, it was found Neroli helps ease anxiety, nervous tension and may be an aid to help promote a good nights sleep.


1 ML.Jager. G.Buchbauer., Percutaneous absorption of lavender oil in massage oil. Institute of Pharmaceutical chemistry (ML.J., G.B.,LJ.) and Institute of Medical Chemistry M.F.) University of Vienna, Wahringer Strabe 10, A-10900 Vienna, Austria. Received July 12th 1991 Presented in part at the Forum Cosmeticum Viennesis, Vienna,Austria November 16 1991.
2 Mimaki and Yutaka Sashida, Effects of inhaling the vapour of Lavendula super derived essential oil and linalool plasma adrenal corticotropic hormone (ACTH) Catecholamine and gonadotropin levels in experimental menopausal female rats. Kenji Yamada *Yoshihiro, Tokyo University of Pharmacy and life science, School of PharmacyReceived July 26, 2004; accepted October 18 2004.
3A. T. Peana, P. S. D’Aquila, F. Panin, G. Serra, P. Pippia1, and M. D. L. Moretti Anti-inflammatory activity of linalool and linalyl Acetate constituents of essential oils A. T. Dipartimento di Scienze del Farmaco, Università degli Studi diSassari, Sassari, Italy!1 Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiologiche Biochimiche e Cellulari, Università degli Studi di Sassari,Sassari, Italy
4 VENANCIO, Antônio M. et al. Ocimum basilicum leaf essential oil and (-)-linalool reduce orofacial nociception inrodents: a behavioral and electrophysiological approach. Rev. bras. farmacogn. [online]. 2011, vol.21, n.6 [cited 2016-05-04], pp.1043-1051. Available from: <>. Epub Aug 26, 2011. ISSN 0102-695X.
5 Herman A1, Tambor K2, Herman A3. Linalool Affects the Antimicrobial Efficacy of Essential Oils. 1Academy of Cosmetics and Health Care, Warsaw, Poland.
2Faculty of Human Nutrition and Consumer Sciences, Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Warsaw, Poland. 3.TheKielanowski Institute of Animal Physiology and Nutrition, Polish Academy of Sciences, Jablonna, Poland. CurrMicrobiol. 2016 Feb;72(2):165-72. doi: 10.1007/s00284-015-0933-4. Epub 2015 Nov 9.
6 Robert Tisserand Essential oil Safety. (2014) (2nd ed.).pg.588
7 Mahboubi, A, Kazempour, N. and Mahboubi, M, 2011, Biharean Biologist Antimicrobial activity of rosemary, fennel and galbanum essential oils against clinical isolates of Staphylococcus aureus,
8 Aristides Medeiros Leite1, Edeltrudes de Oliveira Lima2, Evandro Leite de Souza3, Margareth de Fátima FormigaMelo Diniz1, Vinícius Nogueira Trajano2, Isac Almeida de Medeiros1, Inhibitory effect of β-pinene, α-pinene and eugenol on the growth of potential infectious endocarditis causing Gram-positive bacteria Revista Brasileira deCiências Farmacêuticas Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences vol. 43, n. 1, Jan./mar., 2007
9 Robert Tisserand Essential oil Safety (2014) (2nd ed.) Pg.621
10Onawunmi G O, Yisak ML A, Ogunlana E O 1984 Neuroprotective Effects of b-Myrcene Following Global CerebralIschemia/Reperfusion-Mediated Oxidative and Neuronal Damage in a C57BL/J6 Mouse
11 A Onawunmi G O, Yisak ML A, Ogunlana ntibacterial constituents in the essential oil of Cymbopogon citratus (DC.)Stapf. E O 1984 Journal of Ethnopharmacology
12 Delgado I, Carvalho R, De Almeida Nogueira A, Mattos A, Figueiredo L, Oliveira S et al. Study on embryo-foetal toxicity of β-myrcene in the rat. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 1993;31(1):31-35.
13 Essential oil Safety. 2nd ed. 2014
14 ML.Jager. G.Buchbauer., Percutaneous absorption of lavender oil in massage oil . Institute of Pharmaceutical chemistry (ML.J., G.B.,LJ.) and Institute of Medical Chemistry M.F.) University of Vienna, Wahringer Strabe 10, A-10900 Vienna, Austria. Received July 12th 1991 Presented in part at the Forum Cosmeticum Viennese, Vienna, Austria November 16 1991.
15 Lis-Balchin M. Aromatherapy Science. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2006.
16 Bowles, Joy. The A-Z of essential oils Barrons Publishers
17 E. Joy Bowles. The A-Z of essential oils. Barron books
18 E. Joy Bowles. The A-Z of essential oils. Barron books
19 E. Joy Bowles. The A-Z of essential oils. Barron books
20 E. Joy Bowles. The A-Z of essential oils. Barron books
21 Talapatra S Talapatra B. Chemistry of plant natural products. Pg 473
22 E. Joy Bowles. The A-Z of essential oils. Barron books
23 Chemical composition, antifungal and antioxidant activity of Pelargonium graveolens essential oil. (2013). J AppPharm Sci.
24 Lis-Balchin M. Aromatherapy Science. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2006.
25 Robert Tisserand Essential Oil Safety 2014
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