Orange Blossom (Citrus aurantium var. amara) essential oil is also known as Orange Flower oil or Neroli; the name Neroli is derived from an Italian princess of Nerola who used the essential oil as a perfume, in particular to scent gloves which was the fashion at that particular time in history.
Use of Orange Blossom for Brides
Orange Blossom is reputed to be an aphrodisiac with an ability to calm the nerves before any sexual activity. It was used to soothe the nerves of anxious Victorian brides by the placement in both the bridal head dress and in the bridal bouquet; Orange Blossom was said to calm the newly married couple before retiring to the marriage bed. In southern Europe, Orange Blossom flowers are still placed in bridal bouquets.
The Characteristics of Orange Blossom
Orange Blossom belongs to the Rutaceae plant family; in aromatherapy, the essential oil of Orange Blossom is steam distilled, or obtained through enfleurage, of the fresh flowers of the evergreen Orange tree. The scent of the Orange Blossom flower is rapidly lost, once removed from the tree, so flowers are picked at sun rise, two to three times a week and quickly distilled to maintain the fragrance.
The tree grows up to 33 feet in height and has scented white flowers with dark green leaves; the Orange tree also produces Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium var amara) andPetitgrain (Citrus aurantium var amara) essential oils from the fruit and leaves/twigs of the tree respectively. The Orange tree was originally a native of the Far East, but is now found growing in the Mediterranean; major producers of Orange Blossom essential oil include Italy, the USA, France, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.
The Adulteration of Orange Blossom Oil
Orange Blossom essential oil is frequently adulterated; for example, the addition or substitution of other chemicals or ingredients may be introduced, altering the therapeutic properties of the oil. Orange Blossom essential oil is also often confused with Orange Blossom absolute which does not possess the same fragrance or color.
The flowers of the Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) tree produce an essential oil but this oil is not the same, or of such a high quality, as that produced by the Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium var amara) tree. In addition, the Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) tree produces an absolute called Neroli Portugal (Neroli petalae) which is less fragrant and not of the same quality as that produced by the Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium var amara) tree.
The Properties of Orange Blossom in Aromatherapy
Orange Blossom is anti-bacterial, digestive, anti-depressive, anti-septic, a deodorant and an aphrodisiac; it is used to treat depression, shock, anxiety, hysteria, insomnia, fatigue, colitis, varicose veins and hypertension. Orange Blossom is also very useful in skin care; it rejuvenates the complexion and improves very dry or mature skin.
Other Uses of Orange Blossom
Orange Blossom is frequently used in perfumery work; Orange Blossom absolute, produced by the solvent extraction of the fresh Orange Blossom flowers, is used in many expensive fragrances, especially those which are floral, citrus and oriental in fragrance. The distillation of Orange Blossom essential oil produces a by-productof Orange flower water; both Orange flower water and Orange Blossom oil are used in the flavoring of pharmaceutical products.