Davana (Artemisia pallens) is an oil that is used extensively in Panch Karma clinics in India but is not well known in the West. In addition to its therapeutic uses davana is used in perfumery and as a flavouring in cakes, tobacco and alcoholic beverages.
Botanical Family: Asteraceae (Compositae).
Other oils in this family include the chamomiles, everlasting (Helichrysum italicum), inula (Inula graveolens) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium).
Aroma profile: rich, fruity, sweet and balsamic. The aroma is due to the presence of davanafurans.
Essential Oil: dark yellow to golden orange becoming viscous as it ages
Plant description: The plant which is indigenous to Mysore, India grows in the red soil that is characteristic of that part of India. It reaches a height of 2 feet (60 meters) has bluish green aromatic leaves with numerous small, yellow flowers along its stems.
Distillation: The plant is harvested in bright sunlight and air dried before steam distilling the flowers and leaves.
The oil yield on average after 6-8 hours of distillation is 0.2%
Chemical Constituents: According to Tisserand and Young (quoting Lawrence, 1995) the key constituents are (Z)-Davanone at 38%, Nerol at 10%, unidentified furans at 6%, (E)-Davanone at 5%, geraniol at 5%.
Farida Irani has davanone at 50% along with nordavanone, artemone and davana ether whose percentages she doesn’t state, while Tisserand and Young write that the davanone content can be as high as 55%.
The above differences show that it would be wise to check with your supplier to see how much davanone your oil actually contains.
Therapeutic properties and uses:
Antiparasitic – has been found effective against tapeworm and roundworm in vitro
Aphrodisiac – has been used in the Middle East for millennia
Colds, flu and upper respiratory tract infections because of its antiviral, expectorant and mucolytic properties – use as an inhalation or chest rub.
Regulates and balances menstruation, helpful for dysmenorrhea because of its antispasmodic properties and for menopausal women.
Used in Indian clinics as a compress and douche for ovarian and uterine cysts.
Helps soothe skin irritation and rashes.
Davana is a good anti-stress oil that can help with anxiety, nervous tension and insomnia.
The oil has antidepressant properties and is uplifting so could be useful in cases of depression.
Davana can help one deal with anger, disappointment and failure by working with the emotions and encouraging a sense of peace and a positive outlook.
Davana is useful for people dealing with shock and trauma.
Chakras: Davana works with the following chakras offering support, grounding and with its connection to the 6th chakra trust in your intuition.
1st – survival, safety and feeling supported
2nd – sexuality, passion and creativity
6th – connect with and develop trust in your intuition
The flowers are dedicated to the Lord Shiva a Hindu God and are placed on his altar daily as a sign of love and devotion.
Davana can be used in your spiritual and devotional practices along with other oils like frankincense (Boswellia carterii) and palo santo (Bursera graveolens). One drop is usually sufficient as this oil has a strong aroma.
Suggested oil combinations:
Dysmenorrhea – davana, black pepper (Piper nigrum) and/or clary sage (Salvia sclarea)
Shock & trauma – davana and cistus (Cistus ladaniferus)
Colds and flu – davana, eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata) and/or tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) and/or ravensara (Ravensara aromatica)
Depression – davana, palo santo (Bursera graveolens) and/or lime (Citrus aurantifolia) or other citrus
Tisserand and Young write that the oil was tested at 4% on 25 volunteers and was neither irritating nor sensitising. They also write that no hazards or contraindications are known. Irani on the other hand suggests that one use caution in the first trimester but the oil is ideal for the last trimester of pregnancy and labour.
Berkowsky B, Davana Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential oils 1998 -2008
Irani F, Davana in Aromatherapy Today, Vol 51, August 2011
Irani F, The magic of Ayurveda Aromatherapy. Subtle Energies, Don Bosco Press, Mazagaon 2001 Page 105 & 106
Nakhare, S. Garg, S.C., Ancient Science of Life, Anthelmintic activity of the essential oil of Artemisia pallens Wall, Quintessential web base, 1991
Tisserand R and Young R, Essential Oil Safety Second Edition, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014 Pages 267 – 268
This article was originally published in the April 2017 issue of AromaCulture Magazine (www.aromaculture.com) and has been adapted for use here with permission from the publisher.