Keep reading to learn more about potential neroli oil benefits and the supporting research behind them.
What Is Neroli Oil?
Neroli oil is the essential oil drawn from the flowers of the bitter orange tree (Citrus aurantium).
With origins in Southeast Asia and East Africa, the small evergreen made its way to multiple Mediterranean countries and U.S. states like California and Florida via intercontinental explorers.
Its white, five-petaled blossoms bloom from late April to May. These are carefully handpicked at the height of the season and steam-distilled for their fragrant oil.
There is a good chance you’ve been exposed to the alternately sweet and green citrus notes of the extract. Neroli essential oil is a common ingredient in lotions, candles, perfumes, and massage oil blends.
You’re less likely, however, to encounter a bottle of 100% pure, unblended neroli oil, as it reportedly takes 1,000 pounds of blossoms to produce just one pound of it.
Rare and expensive, neroli oil contains several active compounds, including:
- Linalyl acetate
These may account for some of the purported health benefits we will discuss today.
Neroli Oil Benefits
Intoxicating neroli oil is favored in aromatherapy, the centuries-old use of plant extracts to improve health and well-being.
Experts believe that upon inhalation, phytochemicals in the extracts pass through the olfactory sensors in the nose to the area of the brain involved in emotion control.
In the case of neroli oil, this is thought to produce a soothing effect.
Preliminary research indicates the oil also has benefits for:
- High blood pressure
- Pain and inflammation
- Skin infections and aging
While more study is needed to confirm these benefits, results from early trials have been encouraging.
Let’s take a closer look at some of them.
Stress, Anxiety, and High Blood Pressure
When your brain senses a threat (whether it’s a stray coyote on your morning hike or a huge presentation at work), it signals the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol, the stress hormone.
This can be useful in life-or-death situations. But in some people, cortisol levels remain elevated even after the threat is gone. This chronic stress puts you at higher risk for health problems like anxiety and high blood pressure, or hypertension.
Research suggests that neroli oil can improve stress and high blood pressure in multiple groups.
In a 2014 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 63 healthy postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to inhale neroli oil (0.1% or 0.5%) or almond oil for five minutes twice a day for five days.
Results showed that, compared with the control (almond oil) group, the neroli oil groups saw their blood cortisol levels and pulse rate improve, in addition to “significantly lower” diastolic blood pressure.
Systolic blood pressure was also much lower in the 0.5% neroli oil group than the control group.
The researchers noted neroli oil’s potential as an effective intervention to reduce stress.
Prehypertension and Hypertension Patients
A 2012 study, also published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, found that neroli oil may help lower blood pressure.
For the study, 83 prehypertensive and hypertensive patients inhaled either an essential oil blend with lavender, ylang-ylang, marjoram, and neroli oils; a placebo oil; or no oil (control) for 24 hours.
The essential oil group showed “significant decreases” in daytime blood pressure and salivary cortisol levels compared with the placebo and control groups.
It was determined that the essential oils might have relaxation effects for controlling hypertension.
Coronary Angiography Patients in ICU
Researchers looked at the effects of aromatherapy on anxiety, blood pressure, and sleep quality in patients undergoing coronary angiography in an intensive care unit in a 2013 study.
The aromatherapy consisted of a mixture of lavender, chamomile, and neroli essential oils. The blend was placed on aroma stones.
Inhaling the blend 10 times before and after the procedure, and placing the stones under their pillow until the next morning, was shown to reduce the patients’ anxiety levels while improving their sleep quality.
Women in First-Stage Labor
In a study out of Iran, aromatherapy with neroli oil reduced anxiety and even feelings of pain during the participants’ first stage of labor.
Gauze pads saturated in neroli oil were attached to the collars of the women while they labored. They were switched out every half hour.
The study authors noted that women with lower levels of anxiety generally experience less pain during labor. Therefore, neroli oil could be a potential therapy for both anxiety and pain management during childbirth.
Pain and Inflammation
Research published in the Journal of Natural Medicines seems to support neroli oil’s pain-lowering abilities.
Findings suggested the oil can lessen central and peripheral sensitivity to pain in mice and rats, thanks to its bioactive ingredients. Neroli oil’s phytochemicals also showed significant activity against acute and chronic inflammation.
Another study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry examined neroli’s potential as a functional food in treating inflammatory-related diseases. In a lab setting, scientists observed that the essential oil blocked the production and gene expression of several pro-inflammatory markers, including:
- Nitric oxide
- Tumor necrosis factor-α
- Interleukin-1β (IL-1β)
The researchers identified linalool, alpha-terpineol, limonene, and linalyl acetate as being potentially responsible for the anti-inflammatory activity.
Skin Aging and Infections
Neroli oil is frequently used for skin care, as it’s said to have skin-rejuvenating abilities. The vitamin C in neroli may leave your skin looking younger by increasing its cell turnover and improving the skin’s elasticity.
This can address problems like fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging, as well as scarring and hyperpigmentation.
Neroli oil’s antimicrobial properties may be beneficial for treating fungal and bacterial skin infections as well. One 2012 study reported that neroli oil exhibited powerful antifungal activity compared to a standard antibiotic called nystatin.
It also showed notable antibacterial activity, particularly against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, in the in vitro study.
This means that neroli oil could potentially be effective against microbial infections like:
- Athlete’s foot
- Yeast infection
However, more studies will have to be done to confirm these results.
Should you decide to try neroli oil on your skin, it’s important to first dilute it with a carrier oil, such as olive oil.
How to Use Neroli Oil
How you use neroli oil will depend on the condition you’re attempting to treat. But in general, there are two methods: topical and inhalation.
As mentioned, neroli oil must be diluted with a carrier oil before applying directly to the skin. Some good options are jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil, and olive oil.
A good ratio to follow is six drops of neroli oil per one ounce of carrier oil.
Next, perform a skin-patch test by:
- Placing a small amount on the inside of your wrist or forearm
- Covering the area with a bandage or sterile gauze
- Letting it sit for 24 hours
Rinse and discontinue use if you experience any irritation. Otherwise, you can employ the diluted oil as a:
- Massage oil
- Skin moisturizer
- Anti-aging serum
- Facial toner
- Acne, scar, or stretch mark elixir
Inhaling the oil is another way to enjoy its ostensible health benefits. Consider the following options:
- Steam inhalation: Place a few drops of the neroli oil in a large bowl of hot water. Drape a towel over your head, and carefully lower your face toward the water until you’re about 10 inches away. Then slowly and deeply breathe in through your nose.
- Diffuse: Add three to 10 drops to an essential oil diffuser. Turn on, and enjoy the rich, stress-relieving fragrance.
- Spritzer: Make your own neroli oil spritzer by filling a dark glass spray bottle (2 oz) with distilled water. Add 10 to 20 drops of essential oil, and shake well to blend.
Alternatively, you can place one to three drops of essential oil on a tissue or handkerchief and inhale intermittently during the day. (Do not make direct contact with your nose.)
And for an overnight treatment, you can place a neroli oil-dipped cotton ball under your pillow.
Neroli Oil Side Effects and Risks
Essential oils such as neroli are highly concentrated substances that should be used with caution. Always follow the instructions on the label, and purchase from a reputable seller. The highest quality oils are organic, 100% pure, and therapeutic-grade.
It’s also a good idea to consult a qualified aromatherapist or medical practitioner before using any essential oil, especially during pregnancy or with infants and children.
Moreover, keep the oil out of reach from children and pets.
Most experts advise against ingesting essential oils, neroli oil included. Side effects may include burns to the mouth, esophagus, and digestive tract. Meanwhile, neurological problems such as nerve pain and numbness can also develop.
Citrus oils like neroli are also known to increase photosensitivity. So avoid sun exposure when using the oil.
Article Sources (+)
“Aromatherapy: Do Essential Oils Really Work?” Johns Hopkins Medicine; https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/aromatherapy-do-essential-oils-really-work, last accessed April 12, 2021.
Choi, S.Y, et al., “Effects of Inhalation of Essential Oil of Citrus aurantium L. var. amara on Menopausal Symptoms, Stress, and Estrogen in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2014; 2014: 796518; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25024731/, last accessed April 12, 2021.
Kim, I.H., et al., “Essential Oil Inhalation on Blood Pressure and Salivary Cortisol Levels in Prehypertensive and Hypertensive Subjects,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012; 2012: 984203; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3521421/, last accessed April 12, 2021.
Cho, M.Y., et al., “Effects of Aromatherapy on the Anxiety, Vital Signs, and Sleep Quality of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Patients in Intensive Care Units,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013; 2013:381381; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3588400/, last accessed April 12, 2021.
Namazi, M., et al., “Aromatherapy With Citrus Aurantium Oil and Anxiety During the First Stage of Labor,” Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, June 2014; 16(6): e18371; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4102991/, last accessed April 12, 2021.
Shen, C.Y., et al., “Anti-inflammatory Effect of Essential Oil from Citrus aurantium L. var. amara Engl,” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Oct. 2017; 65(39):8586-8594; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28906110/, last accessed April 12, 2021.
Ammar, A.H., et al., “Chemical composition and in vitro antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of Citrus aurantium l. flowers essential oil (Neroli oil),” Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, Nov. 2012; 15(21):1034-40; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24163946/, last accessed April 12, 2021.
Whelan, C., “Health Benefits of Neroli Oil, and How to Use It,” Healthline, February 20, 2019; https://www.healthline.com/health/neroli-oil#overview, last accessed April 12, 2021.
Wong, C., “Health Benefits of Neroli Essential Oil,” Very Well Health, reviewed on July 20, 2020; https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-neroli-essential-oil-88787, last accessed April 12, 2021.
Price, A., “12 Amazing Neroli Essential Oil Uses (#2 Is Dreamy!),” Dr. Axe, January 6, 2018; https://draxe.com/essential-oils/neroli-essential-oil/, last accessed April 12, 2021.