Amyris balsamifera – plant family: rutaceae
Type of plant: A small, flowering evergreen tree with glossy green leaves and clusters of small white flowers
Part used: Wood
Method of extraction: Steam distillation
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Data: It takes years to produce this oil, as the wood has to dry for up to three years before distillation and then rest for up to a year afterward so the aroma can fully develop. The tree grows wild in Haiti, where it’s traditionally called candlewood, as the resin is highly flammable and the wood was traditionally made into torches. The wood is used to make furniture, while the oil is used in perfumery.
Principal places of production: Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba, Dominican Republic
When buying look for: Pale-yellow liquid, slightly viscous, with a sweet, slightly woody aroma, similar to sandalwood. This essential oil is sometimes mis-sold as sandalwood — which is more expensive and increasingly difficult to obtain. Although amyris oil is substituted for sandalwood in the perfumery trade, it cannot be substituted in aromatherapy.
Therapeutic properties: Antiseptic, antispasmodic, balsamic, emollient, expectorant, regenerative, sedative, slight anti-inflammatory
Therapeutic uses: Coughs, chest congestion, restlessness, stress, tension; a generally relaxing tonic, skin care
Blends well with: Bay (West Indian), bergamot, cananga, cardamom, carnation, cedarwood, frankincense, geranium, grapefruit, ho wood, hyacinth, lavender, lemon, lime, magnolia, nutmeg, orange (sweet), palmarosa, petitgrain, rose absolute, rosewood, sandalwood, spikenard, tangerine, tuberose, valerian, vetiver, ylang ylang
Precautionary advice: No contraindications known