Many of us are familiar with Sweet Orange oil but from the same tree we get the lesser known essential oil Petitgrain. Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium amara fol) essential oil is created from the leaves of the orange tree as a pose to the fruit which gives it a citrus – wood aroma with a light floral tone. The same tree gives us Neroli essential oil and Orange essential oil.
Due to its unique scent it was and still is a classic ingredient of eau de cologne. Interestingly the oil used to be extracted from the tiny, green unripe oranges before they realised they could distil the leaves and hence the name ‘petitgrain’ which means ‘little grains’.
If you have been lucky enough to go through the orange groves they do have a lovely smell all year round whether in flower, fruit or not and you smile no matter what your day is like. This could explain why oils from this tree have such a positive effect on our emotions.
Petitgrain is antibacterial, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and balancing. In practice it is used for acne, oily skin, boils and other infectious skin diseases so it features a lot in creams from problem skins that you buy off the shelf. Due to its antibacterial and anti-infectious properties it is also effective against respiratory infections and helps to contain the spread of such. I always find it interesting that the essential oils from leaves are from the part of the plant that literally breathes and they always seem to be good for our own respiratory systems.
Emotionally petitgrain is one of the most used essential oils for anxiety and feelings of overwhelm. The oil is calming and also energising to the nervous system and is used for panic attacks and mild depression among many other emotional states. Petitgrain has a soothing and relaxing effect on the nerves and protects them from the adverse effects of shock, anger, anxiety, and fear.
From a chemical point of view the oil is quite balanced with it being around 30% - 40% alcohols and 50% - 70% esters. It’s main chemical constituents are linalyl acetate and linalool which have both proven sedative to the central nervous systems in studies. It is also an oil that has no known contra-indications so can be used with most clients.