Oil of the Month Aug: May Chang – ‘The Uplifting One’

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May Chang (Litsea cubeba)

I was overjoyed to hear that one of my favourite and most effective essential oils is now on the shelves at Neal’s Yard Remedies and so more readily available for you all to buy. Litsea cubeba – also known by its Chinese name May Chang, Chinese Pepper or Mountain Pepper, is a vibrant and lemony-scented oil extracted from the fruit of a small, tropical tree native to China and and South-East Asia. It has seldom been heard of except by practitioners, yet whenever I use it in practice most clients ask me about it and for it.

One sniff of its sweet citrus scent nearly always produces a huge smile. It is a brilliant yet extremely versatile oil to use emotionally – the oil I most often turn to for use supporting depression and melancholy, for its ability to gently uplift and bring joy. Yet it can also bring tranquility and calm, especially for those who struggle with anxiety, stress or who are unable to switch off their circling thoughts. It is therefore indicated for insomnia and panic attacks and can promote relaxation, mental clarity and more restful sleep.

Litsea flowers Nature To Nurture - Aromatherapy In Hemel & St AlbansAs a strong antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral it is also particularly effective in the sick room and for those suffering from chronic or terminal conditions, stimulating the immune system as well as giving a sense of sunny freshness – a particularly effective blend is May Chang with Spearmint/Peppermint and Lemon. Medical trials are also underway to examine its positive effects on cardiac arrythmia (irregular heartbeat, hence it being good for panic attacks) and to treat and inhibit cancerous tumours, in particular in lung cancer.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23091605

It is also great for the skin: with antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties it’s a good alternative to mint in a foot cream; can be used in facial moisturiser to help with spots, Acne and Ezcema; or on the body as a natural deodorant. I could go on and on – in traditional Chinese medicine for example, May Chang is used for both respiratory and digestive conditions. It can even be used within the home, as combined with Tea Tree it makes a fantastic and completely natural household cleaner!

Safety note: due to the high content of the chemical constituent Citral, May Chang/Litsea cubeba is contraindicated for hypersensitive/damaged skin and infants

At between £3.85 – £5.50 for 10mls Litsea cubeba is also a reasonable essential oil to purchase – so why not give it a try?


Recommended Suppliers

Neal’s Yard Remedies (organic)


G Baldwin & Co