Essential Oil of the Season – Winter 2014-15: Ravensara – ‘The Gentle Power’

sian Blog

Ravensara/Ravintsara (Ravensara aromatica)

Ravensara aromatica - botanical drawing

Ravensara aromatica – botanical drawing

Winter tends to be a time of chills, coughs & wheezes, colds & sneezes. There are any number of powerfully effective essential oils I can recommend to warm (Ginger, Nutmeg), ward off illness when you start to feel unwell (Black Pepper, Thyme), deal with those symptoms if you are unfortunate enough to catch anything (for colds the Eucalypts & Peppermint & for coughs Cedarwood & Cypress). So it was rather tricksome to choose an essential oil for the Winter edition of my newsletter….but in the end I settled upon the gentle but powerful Ravensara as it is a favourite which I can recommend from personal experience & use.

Together with Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), this is the only essential oil that I carry around with me at all times as it is so helpful & versatile


Gathering Herbs - from a Medieval Herbal

Gathering Herbs – from a Medieval Herbal

Origins & Traditional Uses

Ravensara is a tall, evergreen tree native to Madagascar & long-prized by the local people for its use in traditional medicine, whilst the seeds are used in cooking & the bark in the production of Rum. The name Ravensara may be a Latinisation or corruption of the Malagasy word ‘Ravintsara’ (by which the oil is also known) meaning ‘good leaf’ & it is from the leaves that the oil is extracted by steam distillation.


The Essential Oil

The result is an essential oil that smells slightly of menthol with all the head-clearing effects of Peppermint, is strongly reminiscent of the Eucalypts due to the presence of the chemical 1.8 Cineole, but is without their more medicinal nature. As a result it is very pleasant to use, with a natural sweetness, woody, floral & slightly peppery background to its scent.


Ravensara is a completely safe 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.

Colds & ‘Flu:
Ravensara, Eucalyptus radiata, Peppermint & Tea Tree
Ravensara, Ginger & Clove

Ravensara Essential Oil

Ravensara Essential Oil

Coughs & Respiratory Conditions:
Ravensara & Cypress
Ravensara, Eucalptus staigeriana & Cedarwood Atlas (Cedrus atlantica, more powerful) or Deodar (Cedrus deodara, gentler blend)

Immune Conditions, Fatigue & Lethargy:
Ravensara, Bay Laurel & Peppermint
Ravensara, Palmarosa, Niaouli & Lemon

Prophylactic (to ward off illness)
Ravensara, Thyme CT linalool & Niaouli (more cleansing), or Lavender stoechas (more herbal blend)
Ravensara, Black Pepper & Bergamot
Ravensara, Pine & Tea Tree


Ravensara aromatica - in flower

Ravensara aromatica – in flower

  • Analgesic
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-infectious
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antifungal
  • Antiseptic
  • Antiviral
  • Calmative
  • Disinfectant
  • Expectorant
  • Immune-boosting
  • Nerve tonic
  • Prophylactic – when feeling ‘one degree under’
  • Respiratory tonic

Prime Uses

  • As an anti-infectious, immune-boosting, antiviral & expectorant it is highly effective at both preventing & treating Colds, ‘Flu & other viruses.

‘It is one of the first essential oils one should turn to as a preventative at the first signs of chills, shivers or tiredness’ (Battaglia, The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, 2002, 294)

Ravensara aromatica

Ravensara aromatica

  • Herpes – in particular coldsores. As an antiviral place a neat drop of Ravensara oil on a cotton bud & apply directly to the cold sore as soon as you feel it tingling. It oftens prevents the coldsore from forming & can greatly reduce the healing time & dry out the coldsore. Tea Tree essential oil can also be used.
  • Cleansing expectorant – combined with other oils (see above) & beeswax as a chest rub, Ravensara is a very efficient treatment for chronic respiratory conditions, particularly with mucus & phlegm.

Ravensara is an excellent treatment for both chronic & acute ailments of the respiratory tract, including coughs, bronchitis & also rhinitis & sinusitis.’ (Curtis, Neal’s Yard Remedies Essential Oils, 2002, 109)

Ravensara aromatica - in fruit

Ravensara aromatica – in fruit

  • Revitalising & strengthening for compromised immunity & conditions such as ME, Chronic & Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome
  • Uplifting when feeling low or hopeless, used in cases of depression
  • Calming & relaxing rather than sedating when there is stress, tension or anxiety
  • An analgesic to relieve the discomfort of muscular aches & pains


A gentle giant of an oil: a powerful antimicrobial & incredibly effective against viruses – yet uplifting in the darkness of the Winter chills & able to soothe into tranquility, from as little as £5.60 for 10mls


Recommended Suppliers

Neal’s Yard Remedies (organic), £7 for 10mls

G Baldwin & Co, £8.59 for 10mls

Penny Price Aromatherapy, £10.07 for 10mls

Kobashi Aromatherapy (organic), £5.60 for 10mls