Essential Oil Summer 2015: Petitgrain – ‘The Overthinking One’

sian Blog

Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var. amara [fol])

Citrus aurantium var. amara (fol) - botanical drawing

Citrus aurantium var. amara (fol) – botanical drawing


Three oils in one? but that is too much! All references to Kinder Surprise Egg adverts aside, I am looking at the range of Petitgrain oils this season – these being essential oils derived from the leaves & twigs of various citrus trees. Traditionally, ‘Petitgrain’ is that of the Bitter Orange, Citrus aurantium var. amara (fol). Other Petitgrain oils are available, & recently I added Lemon (Citrus limonum) & Mandarin (Citrus reticulata) to my collection – with Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) next on my list. These can all be combined to beautiful effect with their fruit oils.




Origins & Historical Uses

Citrus aurantium is an unusual & highly-prized plant for aromatherapists in that we can obtain essential oils from all parts of the plant – for this reason it is often called ‘The Aromatherapy Tree’. From it we obtain the essential oils Bitter Orange, expressed from the skin of the fruit; Neroli, steam-distilled from the flower blossoms & Petitgrain from the leaves & twigs.

Leaves & Twigs waiting to be distilled into Petitgrain essential oil

Leaves & Twigs waiting to be distilled into Petitgrain essential oil

Petitgrain essential oil

Petitgrain essential oil

The Essential Oil

This cooling & refreshing oil is derived from the young, green twigs & highly aromatic leaves of the tree. They contain a significant amount of essential oil, which is extracted by steam-distillation. The result is a mobile liquid, clear, pale straw yellow to light amber in colour, and with a fresh, green woody-floral scent reminiscent of its leafy origins. It was once extracted from the green unripe fruits, when they were still the size of cherries, hence the name ‘petit grain’ in French or ‘little grains.’



Petitgrain is a completely safe essential oil for external use


Blending should always be carried out with regards to safety cautions for each oil, to an appropriate percentage & preferably by a qualified aromatherapist – please feel free to contact me for any advice.

citrus-fruit-slices-Nature To Nurture Aromatherapy & Massage in Hemel & St Albans

Citrus Fruits

‘The Whole Orange Tree’
My favourite blend for Petitgrain is to make a holistic & beautifully-scented blend of Neroli, Petitgrain & Orange (although I tend to use that of the Sweet Orange fruit for its sweeter aroma (Citrus aurantium var. sinensis) which is very popular with clients.

Circling Thoughts/Mental Overactivity
Roman Chamomile, Lavender & Petitgrain

Problem Skin
Palmarosa & Petitgrain

Indigestion/Heartburn (stress-related)
Peppermint & Petitgrain

Indigestion/Heartburn (pregnancy)
Petitgrain & Roman Chamomile & Petitgrain

Stress-related Exhaustion/Depression
Frankincense, Rosemary & Petitgrain

Petitgrain also blends well with other citrus oils such as Bergamot, Lavender & others in the Labiatae family, Palmarosa, Geranium & woody oils such as Rosewood & Sandalwood.


The flowers, leaves & fruits of the Orange tree

The flowers, leaves & fruits of the Orange tree

  • Antibacterial
  • Antiseptic
  • Antispasmodic abdominal, respiratory/coughs & muscular cramps – promotes relaxation of tissue, nerves, blood vessels & muscles
  • Astringent
  • Calmative
  • Deodorant
  • Digestive
  • Nervine/Nerve tonic
  • Stomachic

Prime Uses

  • Overthinking & Circling Thoughts: I love to use this essential oil to help those who find it hard to mentally switch off, especially if this leads to insomnia
  • ‘Liver Emotions’: mentally refereshing & uplifting for those suffering anger, frustration & irritability
  • Indigestion & Heartburn: especially if stress or pregnancyrelated rather than due to overindulgence
  • Skin Care: astringent, antibacterial, antispectic balancing & toning – so excellent for oily, teenage & problem skin
  • Nervous Exhaustion: Petitgrain is an excellent nervine or nerve tonic which can soothe nerves, panic, rapid heartbeat & anger
Citrus_aurantium_larambla-Nature To Nurture Aromatherapy & Massage in Hemel & St Albans

The Orange tree in full fruit & leaf


An oil to soothe a troubled mind & body, helping to calm overactive thinking & worry from as little as £2.50 for 10mls


Recommended Suppliers

Neal’s Yard Remedies (organic), £5.20 for 10mls

G Baldwin & Co, £4.99 for 10mls

Penny Price Aromatherapy, £5.14 for 10mls

Essencia Oils, £2.50 for 10mls

Kobashi Aromatherapy (organic), £3.87 for 10mls