The History and Holistic Health Benefits of Neroli
Whilst many flowers have fascinating, detailed histories, there’s something almost fairy-tale-like about the origins of Neroli.
Made popular in Europe by a princess, but originating from Tunisia and cultivated across North Africa, Neroli - or citrus aurantium amara oil - comes from the snowy white flowers of the Bitter Orange – or Seville Orange – Tree.
Used for a multitude of things – from spiritual ceremonies to skincare – those little white flowers produce a fabulous fragrance that’s loved all over the world. We take a look at that scent, its origins, and its wellness benefits today.
The History of Neroli
As mentioned, Neroli – the fragrance – is extracted from the blossoms of the Seville Orange Tree.
Originally grown in Tunisia, Bitter Orange groves were cultivated across countries in North Africa, and then later in France – but the name “Neroli” is widely believed to have come from a 16th Century town named Nerola, in Italy.
The town of Nerola, though Italian, had a French princess (her name was Anne Maria de la Tremoille, or Anne Marie Orsini, depending on who you ask). According to The Perfume Society, she:
“Fell in love with the scent of neroli, which fragranced the air in spring… she used [Neroli] to scent her clothes, baths and gloves.”
The Society also describes the scent as:
“Airy, citrussy, green, but with whispers of honey and orange bubbling subtly underneath…It’s extracted by steam distillation of freshly-picked flowers, which must be a gorgeous task”
Neroli essential oil itself had been used for centuries before the princess discovered it, of course. Popular since the time of Ancient Egypt, it was used by priests and priestesses for its spiritual and physical benefits, in the same way that incense is used in some modern churches.
According to another source, Neroli was also beloved in Ancient China, where:
“The bitter orange blossom was a symbol of purity, innocence, and fertility, and brides would use orange blossoms in their bridal bouquets. Because of this tradition, the expression “to gather orange blossoms” would eventually come to mean “to seek a wife.”
Neroli might come from a dainty flower, but it couldn’t pack more of a positive punch. Antioxidant, antibacterial, rejuvenating, soothing, and antimicrobial, it seems there’s very little this oil can’t do.
As part of a skin care regimen, Neroli is hydrating, soothing and toning, helping to lessen the appearance of fine lines and boosting skin texture and appearance. Its antimicrobial and antibacterial qualities help with breakouts and blemishes.
It also protects against some free radicals, air pollution, and other environmental nasties, as well as promoting the natural regeneration of your skin cells.
At Heyland & Whittle, we blend Neroli into our signature, much-loved scent: Neroli & Rose. The spicy, green, Orange Blossom smell of Neroli is a beautiful top note for the deeper and sweeter fragrance of rose.
On a more soulful level, the scent of Neroli can instil deep feelings of wellbeing, calm, and relaxation. Just a few drops of this sweet-scented fragrance oil, in a diffuser, can make a world of difference to your workday, for example.
Its soothing properties also make it an ideal scent to come home to, or to luxuriate with in a hot bath or shower – our bath melts, bath foam, and organic soaps are all wonderful ways to introduce the benefits of Neroli into your every day.
Are you a Neroli fan? We’d love to know! Pop over to our social channels below and tell us how you use yours.
Please note that as with all essential oils, never ingest or swallow tea tree (or any other) essential oil as this can be toxic and/or fatal. Always seek medical advice before trying a holistic therapy, and consult your doctor with any concerns. The information in this article is presented for entertainment means, and under no circumstances should be construed as medical advice.