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PHYTOTHERAPY RESEARCH Phytother. Res. 20, 758–763 (2006) Published online 28 June 2006 in Wiley InterScience T. HONGRATANAWORAKIT AND G. BUCHBAUER (www.interscience.wiley.com) DOI: 10.1002/ptr.1950

Relaxing Effect of Ylang ylang Oil on Humans after Transdermal Absorption
Tapanee Hongratanaworakit1* and Gerhard Buchbauer2
1 2

Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Faculty of Pharmacy, Srinakharinwirot University, Nakhon-nayok 26120, Thailand Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Diagnostics, Center of Pharmacy, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, A-1090 Vienna, Austria

The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of ylang ylang oil (Cananga odorata, Annonaceae) on human physiological parameters and self-evaluation after transdermal absorption. Forty healthy volunteers participated in the experiments. Physiological parameters recorded were skin temperature, pulse rate, breathing rate and blood pressure. Self-evaluation was assessed by means of visual analog scales (VAS). The ylang ylang oil caused a significant decrease of blood pressure and a significant increase of skin temperature. At the behavioral level, subjects in the ylang ylang oil group rated themselves more calm and more relaxed than subjects in the control group. These findings are likely to represent a relaxing effect of the ylang ylang oil and provide some evidence for the usage of the ylang ylang oil in aromatherapy such as causing a relief of depression and stress in humans. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Keywords: physiological parameters; relaxing effect; behavioral evaluation; Cananga odorata.

INTRODUCTION In medicine interest in the usage of essential ylangylang oil (Cananga odorata, Annonaceae) as a therapeutically active agent has grown considerably. Especially in aromatherapy, ylang-ylang oil has been used as an antidepressant in cases of depression and nervousness as well as used for reducing the blood pressure in the case of hypertension. Clinical experience in aromatherapy suggests that beneficial effects of essential oils are exerted by absorption of fragrance molecules through the skin. Topical application of essential oils in a carrier lotion has been reported by Macdonald (1995). This study demonstrated the enhancement of conventional methods of arthritic pain relief by the usage of essential oils. Wilkinson et al. (1999) reported on the evaluation of aromatherapy massage with essential oil in palliative care. In their studies, Roman chamomile oil helped to improve physical and psychological symptoms. Soden et al. (2004) showed that massage lavender oil caused a reduction in depression of patients in a palliative care unit. In addition, clinical aromatherapy on agitated behavior in dementia patients has been reported (Brooker et al., 1997; Ballard et al., 2002; Snow et al., 2004). Percutaneous absorption of lavender oil from massage oil was investigated by our group (Jaeger et al., 1992). They reported that the main component of lavender oil, i.e. linalool, could be detected in human blood samples 5 min after massage of the oil. Moreover, systemic absorption of topically applied monoterpene carvone from massage
* Correspondence to: Dr Tapanee Hongratanaworakit, Faculty of Pharmacy, Srinakharinwirot University, Rangsit-ongkharak Rd., Nakhon-nayok 26120, Thailand. E-mail: tapanee@swu.ac.th Contract/grant sponsor: Srinakharinwirot University, Thailand; contract/ grant number: 012/2005. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

oil was studied (Fuchs et al., 1997; Jaeger et al., 2001). Their results showed that carvone penetrated the skin and exhibited a peak plasma concentration after about 30 min. Although many researchers attempted to prove the scientific effects of aromatherapy, most of the aromatherapy studies were not controlled studies and their results are therefore possibly biased and not scientific. In order to study the effects of fragrances or odors researchers have taken a great variety of approaches including measuring changes in physiological parameters, e.g. heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, eye movement, skin temperature and skin conductance, in physical performance and in mood (Bensafi et al., 2002a, b, 2004; Brauchli et al., 1995; Haze et al., 2002; Ilmberger et al., 2001; Lorig and Schwartz, 1998; Miyazaki et al., 1991; Moss et al., 2003; Sugawara et al., 1998; Van et al., 1993). Although massage with essential oils is used increasingly for the improvement of the quality of life as well as for the relief of various symptoms in patients, scientific evaluation of the effects of transdermal administration of fragrances in healthy volunteers is rather scarce. Up to now, no experiments on the effects of ylang ylang oil on human physiological parameters and on behavioral patterns after transdermal administration have been carried out. Therefore, the main objective of the present study was to investigate the effects of this fragrance compound on physiological parameters as well as on behavioral responses in healthy humans following transdermal absorption.

MATERIALS AND METHODS Subjects and fragrance compound. Forty healthy volunteers aged between 19 and 48 years (mean age 23.05 ± 4.10 years) took part in the experiments. Demographic
Received 27 758–763 (2006) Phytother. Res. 20, December 2005 Revised 22 10.1002/ptr DOI: April 2006 Accepted 9 May 2006

Systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP and DBP) were determined by sphygmomanometry using an automated system (Digital Electronic Model DS-155E. 4-methylanisole (19. Comparison of these difference scores revealed a significantly larger decrease of SBP in the ylang ylang oil group than in the control group (p = 0. pure sweet almond oil. In the experimental group. After completion of the interview and the rating scales. 2004a. Details of the recording system and procedure have been described elsewhere (Heuberger et al. i. Ltd. Inc. the volunteers were interviewed about their personal data. providing easy access to attach the electrodes. Subjects were tested in individual sessions and randomly assigned to either the control group or the ylang ylang oil group. B+P Beatmungsprodukte GmbH. relaxation. In the second trial the placebo was again administered to the control group. systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP. All experiments were conducted in a bright and quiet room. 2004.25 ± 3. 758–763 (2006) DOI: 10. Japan).5).82%) and benzyl benzoate (18.01 159.44 54. Demographic data for the control group and the experimental group Parameter Number of volunteers Sex (M:F) Height (mean ± SD) (cm) Weight (mean ± SD) (kg) Control group 20 12:8 172. the placebo substance was administered to all subjects. All subjects stated that they did not smell any odor during the experiment. Hongratanaworakit and Buchbauer. Annonaceae. Hongratanaworakit and Buchbauer. 1 mL of the placebo substance.43 ± 5. All statistical calculations and data analyses were performed with the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS version 11.77 64. The DBP of subjects in Phytother. Then. In contrast. 2005). The SBP and DBP were measured at the end of the first trial. Hongratanaworakit et al. Subsequently. pulse rate (PR) and skin temperature (ST) were measured using Power Lab/4SP hardware (ADInstruments.43 ± 4.1002/ptr . Australia). The oil mainly contains methyl benzoate (34. The oxygen was then supplied directly. Procedure. Res. The experimental design has been previously used by our group (Heuberger et al. the subjects were asked if they had smelled any odor during the experiment. One session consisted of two trials of 20 min each. the subjects were asked to rate the rating scales. the subjects were informed about the proceedings.73 Ylang ylang group 20 12:8 175. The oil or the placebo substance were administered as described above. VAS. The oil was identified by GC and GC/ MS. Hongratanaworakit et al.. NSW. Each group consisted of 20 subjects. Electrodes were attached on suitable positions. Afterwards the massage area was covered with a plastic film in order to prevent evaporation of the oil. the SBP of subjects in the ylang ylang oil group decreased at the end of the second trial compared with the end of the first trial.e. product no. 2001.. The effects of fragrances on physiological parameters and ratings of behavioral responses were determined by MannWhitney U-test analysis of variances. The inhalation set was fitted to the volunteer’s face to cover the nose and mouth.97%). The difference scores of SBP between the second trial and the first trial for the control group and the ylang ylang oil group are shown in Fig. et Thoms. In the control group. they were asked about the rating of behavioral responses.29 Male Female Male Female data for the control group and the experimental group are presented in Table 1. 2005).. 1 mL of a 20% (w/w) solution of ylang ylang oil in sweet almond oil was applied to the skin of the lower abdomen of each subject and the subjects massaged the oil into the skin by themselves for 5 min. mood and alertness. calmness.66 ± 8.64 55. 20. At the end of each trial.. Fragrance administration. was used. attentiveness. Neunkirchen.75 ± 6. Acquisition of physiological parameters and statistical analysis.RELAXING EFFECTS OF YLANG YLANG OIL 759 Table 1. The sampling rate was 100 Hz. After completion of the first trial.00%). behavioral responses were assessed by visual analogue scales (VAS). 2001. They were fully briefed and gave written informed consent to all aspects of the study (Srinakharinwirot University Ethics Commission permissions). whereas in the experimental group the appropriate fragrance was administered. The SBP of subjects in the control group increased at the end of the second trial compared with the end of the first trial.012). This procedure was repeated in the second trial..75 ± 6. 1. position. fresh picked flowers of Cananga odorata (DC.12 ± 5. In the first trial.e. were used to assess behavioral responses.91 ± 4. Germany) in order to eliminate any olfactory stimulation by nose or mouth. At the beginning and at the end of each trial. Breathing rate (BR). DBP) were measured.81 63.77 160. vigor. The ylang ylang oil (fraction II) was obtained by steam distillation of the dry. which served as a control for influences of the experimental set-up. Experimental design. RESULTS Physiological parameters The mean and SEM of physiological parameters of the control group and the experimental group are presented in Table 2. In both groups subjects were supplied with pure air by breathing masks (inhalation set for adult. Afterwards subjects were seated in a semi-reclined Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons. f. 2004.) Hook. Physiological parameters were recorded continuously during each trial. 2004a. the recording of the physiological parameters was started.. In addition.1500004020. Upon arrival. i. The ambient temperature was 24–26 °C..

95 0.06 36.89 2.34 3. Figure 2.45 Trial 2 106. the ST of subjects in the ylang ylang oil group increased in the second trial compared with the first trial.14 1.1002/ptr .98 17. the control group increased at the end of the second trial compared with the end of the first trial. HONGRATANAWORAKIT AND G.037). Figure 3.48 0.07 ± ± ± ± ± 2. BUCHBAUER Table 2.20 ± ± ± ± ± 3. In contrast.84 1.81 2.96 1.18 58. 20.35 58.760 T.72 36.50 36.05 for all).84 Ylang ylang (mean ± SEM) Trial 1 107.19 1. Res.15 1. Behavioral responses The mean and SEM of behavioral responses of the control group and the experimental group are presented Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons. 758–763 (2006) DOI: 10.96 66. The ST of subjects in the control group decreased in the second trial compared with the first trial.55 16. The difference scores of ST between the second trial and the first trial for the control group and the ylang ylang oil group are shown in Fig. The difference scores and SEM of skin temperature for the control group and the ylang ylang oil group. Mean and SEM of physiological parameters of the control group and the experimental group Control (mean ± SEM) Trial 1 Systolic BP Diastolic BP Skin temperature Breathing rate Pulse rate 99. No significant effects of the ylang ylang oil on BR and on PR were found (p > 0.56 36.10 70.20 0. Comparison of these difference scores revealed a significantly larger increase of ST in the ylang ylang oil group than in the control group (p = 0. While the DBP of subjects in the ylang ylang oil group only marginally changed at the end of the second trial compared with the end of the first trial.06 60.50 ± ± ± ± ± 1.82 63.25 ± ± ± ± ± 2.97 17.00 68.23 0. The difference scores of DBP between the second trial and the first trial for the control group and the ylang ylang oil group are shown in Fig.62 66.033).80 17.90 1.22 0.37 0. 2. The difference scores and SEM of diastolic blood pressure for the control group and the ylang ylang oil group. 3. Ltd. Comparison of these difference scores revealed a significantly smaller increase of DBP in the ylang ylang oil group than in the control group (p = 0.79 1. The difference scores and SEM of systolic blood pressure for the control group and the ylang ylang oil group.42 Figure 1. Phytother.76 Trial 2 104.

64 3.e.83 3.83 18.45 4.86 Ylang ylang (mean ± SEM) Trial 1 28.14 ± ± ± ± ± ± 3. 4. The difference scores of subjective calmness between the second trial and the first trial for the control group and the ylang ylang oil group are shown in Fig.50 39.29 18.88 33. subjects had to rate their mental and emotional condition in terms of relaxation.47 3. No significant effects of the ylang ylang oil on subjective alertness.53 2. attentiveness. In contrast.00 20. were recorded as indicators of the arousal level of the autonomic nervous system (ANS).77 3. The difference scores of subjective relaxation between the second trial and the first trial for the control group and the ylang ylang oil group are shown in Fig. The difference scores and SEM of subjective relaxation for the control group and the ylang ylang oil group. calmness.63 3.47 47. Ltd. i.10 35.28 32.65 25.04 4. a decrease of physiological arousal. In addition.32 2.41 45.45 ± ± ± ± ± ± 3.50 40. The difference scores and SEM of subjective calmness for the control group and the ylang ylang oil group. Subjects in the control group felt less calm at the end of the second trial compared with the end of the first trial. In addition. When these muscles are contracted skin temperature is lower because less blood reaches there. pulse rate. 5.1002/ptr . Physiological parameters.RELAXING EFFECTS OF YLANG YLANG OIL 761 Table 3.38 33. subjects in the ylang ylang oil group judged themselves more calm at the end of the second trial compared with the end of the first trial.55 3. On the other hand. Since blood pressure is determined by the activity of the sympathetic branch of the ANS.65 29. 20.e.76 26.65 ± ± ± ± ± ± 3. i.93 28.80 3. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons.71 4. Skin temperature is controlled indirectly by the sympathetic division of the ANS via the contraction or relaxation of the smooth muscles which surround the blood vessels and regulate blood supply to distinct skin areas. Comparison of these difference scores revealed a significant increase of subjective calmness in the ylang ylang oil group compared with the control group ( p = 0.94 3.022).30 Figure 4. The ylang ylang oil caused a significant decrease of blood pressure.76 3. DISCUSSION In the present investigation ylang ylang oil was administered transdermally to healthy subjects.24 4. Figure 5. A significantly larger increase of skin temperature in the ylang ylang oil group compared with the control group was found. On the other hand.82 28.82 3. subjects in the control group felt less relaxed at the end of the second trial as compared to the end of the first trial.31 Trial 2 24. a decrease of blood pressure shows a decrease of sympathetic tone. vigor.85 40.021).29 31. mood and alertness in order to assess subjective behavioral arousal. Mean and SEM of behavioral responses of the control group and the experimental group Control (mean ± SEM) Trial 1 Attentiveness Alertness Calmness Relaxation Mood Vigor 25. subjects in the ylang ylang oil group judged themselves more relaxed at the end of the second trial compared with the end of the first trial.05 for all).86 5.40 ± ± ± ± ± ± 4.18 45. blood pressure. Phytother. breathing rate and skin temperature. Res. 758–763 (2006) DOI: 10. mood or vigor were found (p > 0.94 5.00 2.89 36.10 3. in Table 3. attentiveness.38 Trial 2 26. Comparison of these difference scores revealed a significant increase of subjective relaxation in the ylang ylang oil group as compared to the control group (p = 0.

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