The Genus Zanthoxylum

It is not uncommon to see essential oils of different Zanthoxylumm species on EO supplier lists. But generally there is not too much awareness of the peculiarities associated with this genus as far as aromatherapy is concerned.

Zanthoxylum alatum contains a large proportion of linalool. “l’aromathérapie exactement” calls it a very valuable therapeutic agent. Its most distinctive main component may be methyl cinnamate, which gives it a pleasantly spicy aroma and certainly contributes to its anti-arthritic properties.

The fruits of the various species of Zanthoxylum are popular as Sichuan peppper, distinct for their alkyl amid constituents which give Sichuan pepper its distinct flavor. Because of its polar nature the alkyl amides do not transfer into the essential oil!

Zanthoxylum alatum apparently is synonymous for Zanthoxylum armature var. armature.

Some of the more interesting comments are found – as often – on G. Katzers Spice pages ( There are instructive photographs of the different fruits along with their botanical names.

Araucaria (Neocallitropsis pancheri)

The almost mythical sounding Araucaria is a needle tree endemic to New Caledonia. As is not unusual, online searches offer different botanical names likely referring to the identical plant.

In the aromatherapy context the highly original, balsamic and gentle aroma stands out. The oil generally solidifies at room temperature to a waxy consistency.

In an apparent attempt to improve marketability some supplier listings have reccently begun to use the word Candlewood for Araucaria.

Cyperus (rotundus, scariosus)
detailed information on the pharmacology of Cyperus rotundas and/or Cyperus scariosus

Cyperus Root is of special interest in the Distinctly Eastern context as it is extensively referenced in the old Chinese Classics:

….taste sweet, light cold, no poison. Main for chest heat drive, nourish hair and skin, benefit people after long taken period, nourish qi, grow beard and eyebrows.
Ming Yi Bie Lu

….smells light cooling, taste sweet, sure the Yin herb among the Yang Herbs, no poison.
Teng Ye Ben Cao

….get rid off heat in chest, nourish skin and hair, benefit qi after long years taken, grow beard and eyebrows. Later people apply it for treatment of menstrual blood demise, thus this property not identified and noted in Ben Cao
Ben Cao

Good for treatment bladder, stomach qi stagnation, depression sorrow and unhappiness, lack of appetite, skin itch, slimming day by day, heart broken. It is the qi spice for blood. Recipes and formulas use it to treat blood demise, thus benefit qi and stop blood. Similar as Ba Dou, good for discharge and diarrhoea, stool obstruction.
Tu Jing

Gurjum Balsam

The oleoresin from the Dipterocarpus turbinatus tree is not a true balsam. However it is a viscous, woody and sweet smelling oil, which was used in the past to adulterate or give substance to other fragrance materials. Today the price of Gurjum balsam is such that it does not make sense to stretch relatively inexpensive patchouli with the more expensive sesquiterpene rich Gurjum. It has traditionally been attributed healing properties, especially for skin issues such as eczema and psoriasis, in the traditional systems of South East Asia.


The Galbanum essential oil is distilled from the gum resin of Ferula gummosa (syn galbaniflua). It has an intense green scent with musk notes underlying its tartness. Galbanum has on occasion been a key ingredient in modern perfumes such as Must, Vent Vert, Chanel Nº 19 and Vol de Nuit. It is generally considered to be the at the origin of the green scents trend in perfumery. Hippocrates used Galbanum medicinally and Pliny describes it in his Natural History.

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