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Essential Oils

Amyris Essential Oil – Poor Man's Sandalwood

Amyris essential oil is often referred to as West Indian Sandalwood. The two plants are not botanically related, although Amyris essential oil is often used as a more cost-effective substitute for sandalwood. Even so, Amyris essential oil differs both compositionally and medicinally from sandalwood essential oil. While it may be an acceptable substitute in perfumery, it should not be substituted for sandalwood in aromatherapy.

The History of Amyris

Amyris essential oil is derived from the Amyris tree, botanically known as Amyris balsamifera, which is part of the Rutaceae family. The tree originated in the West Indies and is now cultivated in South and Central America. The Amyris tree can grow to be up to 60 feet (18 meters) tall and produces beautiful white flowers that develop into dark blue edible fruits. 1

Amyris was believed to be sandalwood until the late 1800s. It didn’t receive its own botanical name until the leaves were studied, and it was discovered that the plant was botanically different from sandalwood. The oil from the plant was commonly used to clean wounds, relieve symptoms of diarrhea and flu, and support the respiratory system. 2

This particular plant is sometimes referred to as Candlewood or Torchwood because its high oil content allows it to easily catch fire. It has traditionally been used by farmers, traders, and fishermen to light their way at night. 3

Chemical Properties

Amyris essential oil is steam distilled from the bark of Amyris balsamifera . The resulting oil is pale yellow in color and has a woody, balsamic aroma with hints of vanilla. Amyris essential oil has anti-anxiety, antiseptic, cicatrizant, and sedative properties. This is due to its composition, which is mainly:

    • Valerianol

    • B-eudesmol

    • A-eudesmol

    • Y-eudismol

Amyris essential oil has a high concentration of sesquiterpenols, which are known for their grounding and skin-healing properties. 4

Uses for Amyris Essential Oil

Amyris essential oil can be used both aromatically and topically to treat a variety of different conditions. It can be used to relieve stress, reduce signs of aging, prevent infections, and more.

Maintains Skin Health

Amyris essential oil’s high content of sesquiterpenols help reduce signs of aging and keep skin looking young and healthy. It can also help regenerate skin cells, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and add elasticity to the skin. It also helps hydrate the skin and replenish that youthful glow. 5

To keep your skin healthy, add a drop or two of Amyris essential oil to your daily cleanser or moisturizer. Alternatively, mix a few drops with a carrier oil and apply to the skin.

Alleviates Stress and Anxiety

Simply diffusing Amyris essential oil throughout the home can promote feelings of peace and relaxation. It can help clear the mind and is very useful during meditation. The calming, sedative properties also help promote sleep for those who suffer from insomnia.

If you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or just need a quick mood-booster, diffuse Amyris essential oil throughout a room of your home. For an even more relaxing experience, mix a few drops with a carrier oil and use as a massage oil. To promote a good night's sleep, diffuse this oil in your bedroom 15–20 minutes before you go to sleep. You can also mix with water in a spray bottle and lightly spray bedsheets and pillowcases.

Prevents Infection

The antiseptic properties of Amyris essential oil help disinfect minor wounds and reduce the chance of infection. You can mix this essential oil with a carrier oil and apply onto minor cuts, burns, bites, and other minor injuries to speed up the healing process.

Acts as a Natural Insecticide

A 2012 study published in the Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology studied the effects of Amyris, carrot seed, and patchouli essential oils on mosquito larvae. The results showed that all three of the oils killed 100 percent of the larvae at very low concentrations. B-eudesmol and elemol were two of the compounds shown to have insecticidal properties. 6

If you have problems with insects in your home or garden, try diluting Amyris essential oil with water and using it as an insecticidal spray instead of resorting to chemicals.

Treats Respiratory Conditions

Amyris essential oil can help reduce infections in the respiratory tract, as well as symptoms like coughs and congestion. It can also help reduce symptoms of cold, flu, allergies, and bronchitis, allowing you to breathe easier.

To support the respiratory system and ease your symptoms, diffuse Amyris essential oil throughout the home. For an even more soothing effect, add a couple of drops of this essential oil to a bowl of steaming water. Cover your head with a towel, and breathe in the vapors for approximately five minutes.

Amyris Infographic

Safety and Precautions

Amyris essential oil is safe for topical and aromatic use, but it should not be taken internally.

This oil can be irritating to those with sensitive skin, so a patch test should always be conducted before using the oil topically. It is also recommended to dilute Amyris essential oil with a carrier oil before applying directly to the skin.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid using essential oils unless directed by a doctor. You should never attempt to use essential oils to treat a chronic condition before consulting a medical professional.

If stored correctly in a cool, dark place, Amyris essential oil should last for approximately six to eight years.


Even though Amyris essential oil doesn’t have the same healing properties as sandalwood essential oil, it is still a powerful healing oil on its own. Whether you’re looking for a way to relax the mind, heal and restore the skin, or treat a respiratory condition, Amyris ess ential oil is an inexpensive natural healer that is a great addition to anyone’s collection.

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