THE AMYRIS tree is known to be one of the oldest materials used for its aroma in perfumery; in fact it has been used for at least 4,000 years.
It is believed that God instructed King Solomon to make his temple furniture from amyris, such was its strength and spirituality.
More practically, being a durable hardwood, amyris has also been employed as fence posts.
Certainly it would have been burnt in offering as incense and commonly enjoyed as fragrant firewood. Prior to the Second World War, large quantities of small logs were exported from Venezuela, Haiti and Jamaica to be distilled in Germany.
Today, most amyris wood is produced in a very mountainous region of South-Eastern Haiti, where production areas for this wood are very hard to reach.
The gathering and cutting is done by indigenous farmers and takes a great deal of physical effort. The harvested branches and trunks are then transported to the distilleries, mainly via Les Cayes and Port-au-Prince.
An aromatic comfort for heart and lungs
Amyris essential oil contains sesquiterpenols, which indicate its anti-inflammatory and vaso-decongestant properties.
This is a natural cardiac tonic and regular massage with it can be beneficial for maintaining healthy blood pressure, heart and circulation and it can be used for poor circulatory conditions such as haemorrhoids or varicose veins.
Amyris is an effective decongestant and may be used to help expectorate and clear the breathing passages, ease coughs and alleviate chest complaints.
Add this mellow and comforting essential oil to respiratory blends to soften the typically sharp, camphoraceous notes of respiratory oils to use for steam inhalation, steam rooms and sauna.
Deeply relaxing massage choice
Amyris is a good choice to add to massage blends because it is antispasmodic and as well as helping to reduce inflammation.
This all adds up to a deeply relaxing massage, especially because it nicely sedates the nervous system also.
Use amyris oil as an insect repellent or add to natural pesticide blends to augment efficacy.
A friend to farmers and fishermen
Due to its high oil content and its hard-grained, dense wood, amyris is also known as torchwood or candlewood because it easily ignites and can be used as a torch. Fishermen in Haiti frequently use it to light their way in the darkness when catching sea crabs along the shore, or for farmers traveling at night to bring their wares to the town.
A few drops of amyris may be put on a absorbent material to use in food storage bins in order keep them free of infestations for at least a few months.
The essential oil is used as a base fixative in making perfumes and soaps and also added in cosmetics, for additional fragrance. It is a wonderful addition to natural plant incense, while conveniently increasing its flammability.
Slows ageing process of skin
Include amyris in diffuser blends or skin washes for its gentle antiseptic action; use with lemon tea tree or manuka oils for efficacious cleansing blends. Amyris oil is the most beneficial and softening for dry and mature skin and contributes admirably in cosmetics for skin regeneration and slowing down typical deleterious signs of ageing; blend with frankincense or geranium for this purpose. It also subdues redness and skin irritations.
Mellow euphoric for mind
An excellent sedative, amyris essential oil is soothing and calming whilst enhancing general feelings of wellbeing.
Add a few drops to a blend to use in a diffuser to effectively relieve the mind of anxiety or stress.
Combine amyris with other sedative oils such as lavender, vetivert or ylang ylang to make the most of how friendly and synergistic it is with other essential oils.
Keep amyris handy if you are prone to depression to help uplift your spirit and mind. A mellow euphoric, amyris is recommended to uplift the mood.
Amyris helps us love ourselves
Try blending amyris with sandalwood, ylang and neroli to avail of its aphrodisiac qualities to ease sexual tension.
Soothing and nourishing amyris activates the heart chakra, helping us overcome obsessive self-absorption so we can open ourselves to others more completely and more authentically.
This encourages a more aware, sensual and heart-centred sexual relationship, inspiring love and exploration of the myriad dimensions of intimate connection. The deep relaxation that amyris delivers begets fun, exploration and enhanced creative energy, prompting us to see the beauty and harmony in all things.
Amyris oil also helps to improve mental clarity with its cooling property that assuages irritability, tension and frustration.
Diffuse amyris in the yoga room or sacred space for spiritual practice to quieten the mind of unbidden chatter and help induce a meditative state; its soothing scent makes you feel peaceful within.
Transformative for psyche
Chakra: Base, sacral, heart
Use amyris in perfume or incense blends to strengthen resolve and impart courage as well as enhancing creativity and imagination enveloping one in sweet balsamic calm.
Amyris builds stability within the base chakra augmenting our trust in life to provide what we need to thrive.
The energetics of this essential oil attunes us to the natural rhythms of the earth and the collective consciousness, so that we can find our own sense of place and purpose.
In this way we become more patient and less resistant to the natural ebb and flow of time and energy.
Amyris stimulates lucid dreaming during sleep so this we can witness impartially the spiritual realisations and truths that arise and integrate them into our waking lives.
Less pricey, but not the lesser choice
Amyris essential oil is commonly known as West Indian Sandalwood because it can be used as a more affordable alternative to genuine sandalwood, Santalum album, which is endangered due to overharvesting.
This is a misnomer because their properties are different and they are not botanically related; since amyris is fairly abundant and available all over the world it has been used to extend or adulterate sandalwood oil.
Amyris should be recognised and used for its own merit with its own unique characteristics. If your budget does not reach to sandalwood’s high price, then indeed amyris is an excellent woody, fixative base, though less tenacious than sandalwood, it brings its own softer qualities.
Botanical name: Amyris balsamifera
Common names: West Indian sandalwood, West Indian rosewood, candlewood, torchwood
The Plant: Amyris originates from the West Indies, where it grows wild in thick thickets all over the island of Haiti. It is a small bushy, tropical evergreen tree that can grow to a height of 18 meters. The plant bears white flowers that grow into black-bluish fruits, which are edible. It is now widely cultivated throughout many tropical zones of the world including the West Indies and in South and Central America. Different regions seem to produce slightly different oil.
The Oil: The wood of the fallen dried tree is distilled with a steam boiler using water. The yield of oil usually ranges from 2 to 4 per cent, depending on which part of the tree was used, its age and moisture content.
The trunks and branches of the plant are put through a hammer mill to be coarsely crushed; if it is ground too finely there is less oil produced. It takes almost three and a half days to exhaust oil from one charge of wood material.
Seasoned dried wood is preferable because fresh wood produces oil with a harsh odour and lower specific gravity.
The odour changes and improves significantly if the wood is stored for at least two to three months and in some cases the wood is dried for more than a year before distillation. The resulting essential oil is then refined for several months or even a year to ensure optimal olfactory quality.
Scent: A mellow base note, amyris essential oil has a warm, sweet, woody aroma; balsamic with a hint of vanilla and somewhat peppery notes. It provides a tenacious fixative to a blend. The oil has a yellowish-brown colour and thick consistency.
Blends well with: Rose absolute, geranium, clary-sage, ylang ylang, tangerine, cedarwood, citronella, ginger, lavender, oak-moss.
Indications: Antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, decongestant, antispasmodic, expectorant, hypotensive, decongestant, emollient sedative, antidepressant, aphrodisiac, insect repellent.
Precautions: non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitising.