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Cold & Flu Relief: Ravensara or Ravintsara

by Leah Morgan, CCAP

Are you curious about the similarities and differences of Ravensara and Ravintsara essential–and wonder when to use each one? Both essential oils can play an effective role in cold and flu management. 

Therapeutics

Both Ravensara and Ravintsara are considered cold and flu powerhouses when used in aromatherapy, but they play to different strengths.

Ravensara leaf (R. aromatica) oil is very commonly recommended for viral issues. It may be beneficial in aromatherapy for flu due to its anti-infectious potential. Also, the leaf oil may assist in some respiratory symptoms and aches that may accompany illness (Sheppard-Hanger 365). Its ability to be used at slightly higher concentrations is useful in this regard. Like with many oils, it may serve best as a part of a synergistic blend.

Ravensara bark oil (R. anisata) may provide benefit in the case of bronchitis and more spastic respiratory conditions. Like the leaf oil, it could also likely benefit aches as well (Sheppard-Hanger 367).

Overall though, Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora) is preferred for respiratory issues. The respiratory benefit of Ravintsara comes as no surprise with its significant 1,8 cineole content. Ravintsara may be preferable in aromatherapy by helping to expel mucus and relieve the coughs.

A note about kids

Use Ravintsara in diffusers or topical applications for children. More potent direct inhalation methods, such as steam bowls and personal inhalers, are best avoided until children are a bit older (approximately 10 years) since the 1,8 cineole content is not insignificant.

Diffusion suggestions

During times of illness, try diffusing 1 drop each of R. aromatica and R. anisata along with 3 drops of Ravintsara to help support the body's natural healing process.

Two different plants, three different oils

Healingscents carries Ravensara Leaf and Ravensra Bark oils and also Ravintsara. It is crucial to verify the Latin binomial to begin to understand exactly what one is working with. The Plant List designates Ravensara aromatica as a botanical synonym for Cryptocarya agathophylla. Ravensara anisata, often considered a synonym for R. aromatica, is an unresolved name and under review ("Ravensara Anisata Danguy — The Plant List"). But, R. aromatica and R. anisata are currently both used to describe the essential oils derived from the leaf and the bark in aromatherapy circles. R. anisata appears to be the preferred choice for representing the bark oil, and the bark will be referred to as thus for the purposes of this article.

Chemistry determines safety

As far as chemistry is concerned, R. aromatica and R. anisata are quite different. The bark oil is dominantly comprised of estragole while the leaf oil consists mainly of various monoterpenes. It does contain estragole as well but in a significantly lesser amount.

Ravintsara, on the other hand, is an entirely different plant from Ravensara. Commonly referred to as ho leaf, Ravintsara is the 1,8 cineole chemotype of Cinnamomum camphora and is distilled from the leaves of the plant. As attested to by the chemotype, the main constituent found in this oil is 1,8 cineole.

Both Ravensara and Ravintsara oils have dermal restrictions that should be closely adhered to. The estragole content makes the oil potentially carcinogenic if used in inappropriate doses. The bark oil is recommended to use at a 0.1% concentration (Tisserand and Young 402). Some sources recommend only using the bark oil under the guidance of a qualified professional. The leaf oil, is recommended to not exceed a 1% concentration (403). While the estragole content of R. aromatica is much less than that of the bark oil, it is still enough to require caution in dermal applications.

Appropriate concentrations of Ravintsara depend on where the oil comes from. Chinese Ravintsara oils should be used at concentrations of 11% or less in topical formulas due to the methyleugenol and safrole content. The Madagascan oil appears to lack these constituents and does not carry the same caution (Tisserand and Young 304). Due to the high 1,8 cineole content of the oil, it is also best to use caution around children. Be sure to keep the oil away from their faces to avoid instillation into the nose (304).

Where Ravensara is concerned, what do 0.1% and 1% look like when it comes to diluting in carrier oil? For the leaf oil, 1 drop in 5ml of carrier oil gives you 1%. To get 0.1% for the bark oil, use 1 drop in 55ml of carrier oil. Because of these differences, it is crucial to always know which plant part purchased essential oil has been distilled from.

Combining power

Like most essential oils, Ravensara bark and leaf as well as Ravintsara may provide an increased benefit in synergy with other essential oils. They may also prove beneficial when combined with each other. If the leaf and bark are used together in a single blend, it is important to carefully account for how much is used since they are both restricted for estragole. Sticking to 0.5-0.6% concentrations of the combined Ravensara oils would keep the user in a safe range. For example, create a master blend that is half Ravensara bark and half Ravensara leaf. Add one drop of that blend to a 10ml roller to get a 0.5% concentration.

Ultimately, all three oils are beneficial in aromatherapy applications for cold and flu, and their benefit will be maximized by a careful hand in artful blending.

References:

"Ravensara Anisata Danguy — The Plant List." Theplantlist.org. N.p., 2018. Web. 26 Nov. 2018.

Sheppard-Hanger, Sylla. The Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual. Tampa: Atlantic Institute of aromatherapy, 1995. Print.

Tisserand, Robert, and Rodney Young. Essential Oil Safety. Edinburgh [etc.]: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier, 2014. Print.

Leah Morgan, CCAP


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