Therapeutic Effects of Essential Oils in the Rutaceae Family

Therapeutic Effects of Essential Oils in the Rutaceae Family

Most of the essential oils in this family come from citrus fruits but not all. Others include amyris, boronia, Cape May, and the zanthoxylums (spices).

Species of the family generally have flowers that divide into four or five parts and are white, yellow, purple, pink or red in colour, usually with strong scents. They range in form and size from herbs to shrubs and large trees.

Essential oils from the Rutaceae family include Amyris (Amyris balsamifera), Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), Boronia (Boronia megastigma), Cape May (Coleonema album), Clementine (Citrus Clementina), Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi), Lemon (Citrus limonum), Lime (Citrus aurantifolia), Mandarin (Citrus reticulata), Neroli (Citrus aurantium var.amara), Orange Blood (Citrus sinensis), Orange Sweet (Citrus sinensis), Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var. amara), Rue (Ruta graveolens), Tangerine (Citrus reticulata), Tosa Konatsu (Citrus tamurana), Xanthoxylum (Zanthoxylum armatum), Yuzu (Citrus junos) and Zanthoxylum (Zanthoxylum odorum).

This plant family has cooling, refreshing, calming, sedative, uplifting, antibacterial, antidepressant, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, sedative, tonic, astringent, cicatrisant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties in common.

Rutaceae plant family members are good digestive oils and are usually beneficial for the skin but be aware the following cold pressed essential oils are phototoxic; lemon, lime, bergamot, bitter orange, petitgrain made from mandarin leaf and rue.

Amyris (Amyris balsamifera)Amyris

Amyris is a small bushy tree, 3 to 6 metres in height, with compound leaves and white flowers that produce edible black-bluish fruit.

Therapeutic Effects
Antiseptic, balsamic, decongestant, eases sore, tired muscles, soothes dry, irritated skin.

Emotional and Subtle Effects
Useful in meditation, relaxes, calms, focuses and uplifts the mind, helping to alleviate stress and anxiety.

Precautions
Non-irritating, non-sensitising, non-toxic. Amyris is often fractionated; some sections are cut with Virginian cedarwood. Amyris is also used to adulterate vetiver oil produced in Haiti.

Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)

bergamot tree and fruit

The bergamot tree grows up to 12 metres high and has deep green leaves and small white fragrant flowers. The fruit ripens from green to a lemon yellow colour and is slightly spherical in shape with a sour bitter taste.

Therapeutic Effects
Skin problems including acne, cold sores, chicken pox, shingles and eczema. Also helpful for respiratory and digestive issues including flu, sore throat, laryngitis and bronchitis, dyspepsia, flatulence, colic, indigestion and loss of appetite.

Emotional and Subtle Effects
She is helpful for irritability, frustration, depression, grief and sadness. Provides a light at the end of the tunnel during times of deep introspection.

Precautions
Due to the furocoumarins, bergamot is photosensitive and can cause serious skin burns or a condition known as berloque dermatitis. (An irregular darkening of the skin which can last several years). Avoid direct exposure to sunlight or sunbed rays for 12 hours after applying the diluted oil to the skin. This rule doesn’t apply to soaps and shampoos or any products that are immediately washed off the skin. You can also buy Bergaptene free essential oil which has no photosensitivity issues.

Boronia (Boronia megastigma)

An evergreen shrub with an abundance of fragrant flowers whose petals are brown on the outside and yellow on the inside.
Boronia is an absolute and is used in perfumery and food flavouring but not much in aromatherapy. This is a very expensive and strong smelling oil. Best used diluted in 1-2% jojoba.

Therapeutic Effects
Not used in aromatherapy for physical symptoms

Emotional and Subtle Effects
Maybe useful for relieving stress and sleeplessness caused by worry or circular thoughts.

Precautions
None known. Can be adulterated with ionones, eugenol, methyl eugenol and sesquiterpene fractions of ylang ylang.

Cape May (Coleonema album)Cape May

Cape May is also known as Confetti Bush because the small white star-like flowers cover the ground like confetti after a wedding during the flowering season. It is a medium to large woody shrub with small heath-like leaves.

Therapeutic Effects
Colds, flu, sore throat, skin tonic, insect repellent, mild diuretic, eases nervous tension, helps remove stale, unpleasant smells from the skin and helps reduce fevers relieve the aches and pains.

Emotional and Subtle Effects
Mentally and emotionally uplifting. Helps clear the mind of unwanted negative and fearful thinking, while simultaneously offering protection from the negativity of others, encourages positive communication.

Precautions
None known. Cape May oil polymerizes on aging. To help prevent this Tisserand suggests storing the oil in a dark, airtight container in the fridge with the addition of an antioxidant to preparations containing it.

Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)Grapefruit tree and fruit

A large tree growing to 30 metres with glossy dark green leaves and large fragrant flowers. The fruit is usually yellow but may vary in colour depending on the cultivar.

Therapeutic Effects
Anti-infectious, circulatory, anti-inflammatory, immuno-stimulant and neuro-tonic. Constipation, nausea, fluid retention, cellulite, appetite stimulant, colds and flu, eases muscle stiffness, acne, oily skin and cellulitis. May help control sweet cravings.

Emotional and Subtle Effects
Mentally refreshing and energising, stress, nervous exhaustion, depression, mental and spiritual clarity, helps to achieve harmony and balance calms mind chatter

Precautions
Non-irritating, non-sensitising, non-toxic. Possibly mildly photosensitive. Grapefruit essential oil deteriorates quickly on exposure to air, daylight or moisture. Keep in the refrigerator to prolong her shelf life to a maximum of 12 months.

Lime (Citrus aurantifolia)lime tree and fruit

Bushy tree that grows up to 4 metres or more and has small, round, greenish yellow fruit.

Therapeutic Effects
Coughs, bronchitis, sinusitis, poor digestion, insect bites and minor cuts.

Emotional and Subtle Effects
Stimulates and refreshes a tired mind. Apathy, anxiety, depression. Settles calms and refreshes the emotions, allowing feelings to be explored and released constructively.

Precautions
Non-irritating, non-sensitising, non-toxic. Lime essential oil is available as both a steam distilled and cold pressed essential oil. Please note that the cold pressed oil is photosensitive while the distilled is not.

Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)Mandarins

An evergreen tree which is smaller than an orange tree and bears fruit which is slightly flattened at both ends.

Therapeutic Effects
In France mandarin is considered a safe children’s remedy for indigestion and hiccups. Antispasmodic, useful for PMS and cramped muscles. Helps prevents stretchmarks in pregnancy.

Emotional and Subtle Effects
Uplifting, depression, anxiety, irritable over-tired children.

Precautions
Non-irritating, non-sensitising, non-toxic. Keep in the fridge to prolong her shelf life (around a year). If she smells pinelike don’t use her on the skin as she may cause skin sensitization. Can still be used in a vaporiser or for cleaning without problems.

Neroli (Citrus aurantium var.amara)Neroli flower

An evergreen tree up to 10 metres high with glossy leaves and fragrant white flowers.

Therapeutic Effects
Relieves muscle spasms of the smooth muscles especially the small intestines and so may be useful in cases of chronic diarrhoea due to nervous tension.

Emotional and Subtle Effects
Depression, stress, anxiety, and shock. Instils a sense of peace and aids in spiritual work. Promotes self-confidence and assists in reconnecting with one’s higher self. Useful for deep emotional pain that robs us of hope and joy.

Precautions
None known. Subject to frequent adulteration and reconstituted oils maybe added.

Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var.amara)Petitgrain tree

An evergreen tree up to 10 metres tall with dark green, glossy, oval leaves and white flowers producing green fruit ripening to yellow. Essential oils obtained from the leaves of other species of citrus for example, lemon, bergamot and mandarin may also be labelled petitgrain.

Therapeutic Effects
Muscular spasms, insomnia, dyspepsia, nausea, vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome, abdominal pain.

Emotional and Subtle Effects
Mental clarity stimulates the mind, uplifting, refreshing, calms anger and panic. Nervous tension and frustration, irritability and excessive anger, and mental fatigue with feelings of depression.

Precautions
None known. Often adulterated with synthetic chemicals such as nerone. May also be adulterated with limonene and rectified orange terpenes. Petitgrain is used to adulterate neroli essential oil.

Xanthoxylum (Zanthoxylum armatum)Zanthoxylum armatum

This small tree has dense foliage with red fruit and grows to a height of 6 metres or more.

Therapeutic Effects
Colds and flu, PMS, menstrual cramps, muscle spasms and pain, insect repellent, digestive issues, stimulates the appetite, swollen joints and arthritis.

Emotional and Subtle Effects
Antidepressant, calming, meditative, uplifting, stress.

Precautions
None known

Yuzu (Citrus junos)Yuzu fruit

Yuzu is an expensive Japanese oil but one that brings sunshine on a cold winter’s day.
The small tree produces orange-yellow fruit with a hint of green and a bumpy peel.

Therapeutic Effects
Colds and flu, muscle aches and pains, digestive stimulant, arthritis and rheumatism.

Emotional and Subtle Effects
Anxiety, stress, nervous tension, frustration, depression, grief. Gives the spiritual purification and strength needed to move forward and focus on new thoughts and feelings.

Precautions
Skin sensitization if oxidized and is best stored in a dark airtight container in the fridge.

References
Atterby D, Mandarin Essential Oil Profile. Aromatherapy Today, Vol.44 (2009)
Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion, Australia (1995)
Battaglia S, The Complete Guide To Aromatherapy. 3rd edition Volume 1.The Perfect Potion, Australia (2018)
Lawless J, Complete Essential Oils. Element Books (1995)
Mojay G, Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. Hodder and Stoughton (1996)
Tisserand R and Young R, Essential Oil Safety Second Edition, Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014
Worwood, V.A, The Fragrant Heavens. Doubleday Publishing UK (1999)
Zeck R, The Blossoming Heart. Aroma Tours (2004)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutaceae
http://nbodyshop.com/essential-oil-by-plant-family/
http://shop.chozen.co.za/cape-may-coleonema-album
Boronia jpeg by Murray Fagg https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boronia_megastigma_flowers.jpg