Petitgrain Bigarade Essential Oil – Another Gift of Bitter Orange

Petitgrain Bigarade ESSENTIAL OIL

The bitter orange tree (Citrus aurantium) generously provides three different essential oils: petitgrain bigarade, neroli, and bitter orange. Neroli essential oil is distilled from the flowers, bitter orange from the peel of the fruit, and petitgrain from the leaves and twigs. Petitgrain is often referred to as the “poor man’s neroli”, since it is more cost-effective yet provides many of the same health benefits. Take petitgrain bigarade with you wherever you go with MONQ’s Forest and Happy diffuser blends.

orange treeThe History of Petitgrain Bigarade 

When people first began to distill petitgrain bigarade essential oil, it was distilled from the small, unripe fruits. This gave it the name ‘petitgrain’, which is French for ‘little grain’. Because this reduced the fruit harvest, producers eventually stopped using the unripe fruits but kept the name.

The original French petitgrain was referred to as ‘petitgrain le bigaradier’, which means ‘bitter orange petitgrain’. Petitgrain bigarade essential oil is distilled from the true bitter orange tree, not any of its sub-species or hybrids. Even so, many essential oils called ‘petitgrain bigarade’ are actually distilled from species of this tree grown in Paraguay.

Historically, people in Central and South America, as well as China, Italy, Haiti and Mexico used decoctions of the leaves internally to treat cold, flu, fever, indigestion, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and hemorrhages.

The essential oil is steam distilled, and the resulting oil is often clear with a slight yellow tint. Even though it is derived from the bitter orange tree, petitgrain is the least fruity of the three. Although the aroma is a bit citrusy, it also has woody and floral notes.

Petitgrain bigarade essential oil doesn’t have a long history of medicinal use like neroli. It was traditionally only used in perfumery and cosmetics, although recently it has become popular in aromatherapy and is now included in many massage oils, body scrubs and other skin care products.

Even so, through use in aromatherapy, this essential oil’s healing properties have come to light. Now it is used as a natural deodorant, a way to combat negative emotions and a healing toner for the skin.3 

Chemical Properties

Petitgrain bigarade essential oil is an antispasmodic, antibacterial, antiseptic, antidepressant, deodorant, sedative and nervine. This is all due to its chemical composition, which includes:

Uses for Petitgrain Bigarade Essential Oil

Petitgrain bigarade essential oil has a delightful scent, but that’s not all this essential oil provides! Whether you’re looking for a way to control a cough, clear up your skin or soothe your nerves, it is a wonderful addition to your medicine cabinet.

Prevents Sepsis

What is sepsis anyway? Whenever we injure ourselves, we often apply scrapes and cuts with antiseptic ointment, covering them up with a band-aid and forgetting about them. But do we actually consider what it means to become septic?

Sepsis, or septicemia, is also commonly known as blood poisoning. It is caused by a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus, better known as Staph. Open, unprotected parts of the body are most vulnerable to this, which is why it is often associated with cuts, scrapes or bug bites.

Common signs of sepsis are fever and nausea. It may cause infections of internal organs. In extreme cases, it can even cause death.

This is why antiseptics are so important! They inhibit bacterial growth, reducing the symptoms of your wound becoming septic. For best results, add a drop or two of petitgrain essential oil onto the affected area and cover with a bandage.

Controls Coughing and Reduce Cramps

If you’re experiencing unrelenting coughs, cramps or convulsions, these may be the result of spasms. A spasm is a sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle, and can result in undesirable symptoms. Luckily, petitgrain essential oil has antispasmodic properties, so it can help relieve these symptoms.

Spasms in the respiratory system cause coughs and trouble breathing, and spasms in the muscles or intestinal tract can cause painful cramps and aches. Petitgrain essential oil relaxes the muscles and tissues and reduces the pain.

To reduce symptoms, diffuse petitgrain essential oil throughout a room or add a drop or two to a glass of water and take internally.


The refreshing scent of petitgrain essential oil helps successfully mask any trace of body odor, making it the perfect oil to add to natural deodorants or simply dab a drop or two under the arms. Its antibacterial properties help to kill any unwanted bacteria that cause body odor in the first place.

Supports Immune System Function

Petitgrain essential oil’s antibacterial properties also make it great for supporting your immune system and ridding your body of unwanted toxins and bacteria, keeping you healthier overall. To keep your immune system functioning properly, regularly diffuse petitgrain essential oil throughout your home, add a drop or two into a glass of water or add a couple of drops into a juice or a smoothie.

Removes Acne

The same antibacterial properties that help heal wounds and support your immune system are also effective at fighting unwanted acne. Petitgrain essential oil helps fight the bacteria that causes acne in the first place, leading to clearer skin.

The oil also helps to cut through excess sebum produced by oil glands and can cleanse the skin of any dead skin cells. The oil has a low comedogenic rating, meaning it won’t clog pores and cause future breakouts.

For best results, apply topically to the affected areas after gently washing your face.

Soothes Nerves

Being a nervine, petitgrain essential oil can help soothe nervous tension when afflicted by fear, stress or shock. It helps to calm convulsions, epileptic seizures, hysteric attacks, and nervous afflictions. It also helps by supporting your nervous system and keeping everything running smoothly.

To calm stressed nerves, diffuse a couple of drops of petitgrain essential oil throughout a room, or use one of our personal aromatherapy diffusers for discreet relief. 

Promotes Healthy Sleep

As a sedative, petitgrain essential oil can help treat insomnia and give you the rest you need. It can also help reduce hypertension and abnormal heart palpitations.

For best results, diffuse a couple of drops throughout your room before you go to sleep. Alternatively, you can mix a couple of drops of oil with water in a spray bottle and spray lightly onto your pillow before sleep. Be sure to shake well before spraying, since the oil and water will separate.

Eases Negative Feelings

Petitgrain essential oil is an effective antidepressant, easing symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. By boosting mood, this essential oil also helps to fight fatigue and give you the energy you need to get through the day.4

For an instantly calming experience, diffuse a couple of drops of petitgrain essential oil throughout your home. Alternatively, you can add a couple of drops into a relaxing bath.

Keeps Hair Healthy

Petitgrain essential oil is a great natural conditioner and even works well when added to your normal shampoo. It helps to cleanse the hair and remove any excess oil built up on the scalp, leaving your hair feeling clean and fresh! You can also mix a few drops of this oil into a glass of water and pour over your scalp after washing for a cleansing rinse.

Petitgrain Bigarade Infographic

Petitgrain BigaradeHow To Use Petitgrain Bigarade Essential Oil

Petitgrain essential oil mixes well with the essential oils of bergamot, lemongrass, geranium, cedarwood, clary sage, jasmine, lavender, palmarosa, sandalwood, and ylang-ylang.

  • For a relaxing evening that reminds you of a walk in the woods, diffuse a mixture of petitgrain, lavender, cedarwood, and ylang-ylang essential oils throughout your home.
  • For a powerful skin toner that helps fight acne, combine a cup of witch hazel with 3 drops of petitgrain, 3 drops of palmarosa, 3 drops of lemongrass and 3 drops of tea tree essential oils. Mix well and apply to the affected area.
  • For a stress-relieving massage, combine 100ml of a carrier oil such as jojoba, almond or coconut with 5 drops of petitgrain and 5 drops of lavender essential oils. You can massage this into sore muscles or simply massage over the whole body for a relaxing experience.

You can also simply mix a couple of drops of petitgrain essential oil into your lotion, cleanser, body scrub or bath soak to benefit from all of its relaxing properties.

Safety and Precautions

Petitgrain essential oil is safe for topical, aromatic and internal use. Even so, you should always exercise caution when beginning to use any new essential oils. Always be sure you are purchasing 100% pure essential oil, preferably organic, for best results.

It is also safe to apply this oil neat – meaning undiluted in a carrier oil – although you should always conduct a patch test to ensure you won’t have any negative reactions. Those with especially sensitive skin should still dilute this oil.

Although most citrus oils are considered phototoxic, this is not the case for petitgrain essential oil. No special precautions need to be made when using this oil topically and exposing yourself to the sun.

If kept in a cool, dark place, petitgrain essential oil will last up to 3-4 years. This is a much longer shelf life than many other citrus oils! Be aware that it is still prone to oxidation, which can increase the risk of this oil irritating the skin. If you suspect the oil has oxidized or you begin to experience any negative side effects, stop use.

If pregnant or breastfeeding, it is advised to avoid the use of essential oils. Be sure to speak with your doctor before attempting to cure a chronic condition with essential oils.


The bitter orange tree is quite a powerful plant! Petitgrain bigarade essential oil is potent and healing on its own, either diffused throughout your home, breathed in through one of our personal diffusers, used topically or even internally with caution.

Depending on your own personal needs, you can extend its healing properties by mixing it with other essential oils or carrier oils.

Whether you’re looking to get a good night’s rest, ease feelings of anxiety or support your nervous system, petitgrain bigarade essential shouldn’t be overlooked.

Kiri Rowan

By Kiri Rowan

Kiri Rowan is a writer, photographer, and traveler with a strong interest in alternative medicine. She helps friends, family, and other travelers treat their symptoms with essential oils and medicinal plants.

Favorite MONQ blend: Vibrant

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The above information relates to studies of specific individual essential oil ingredients, some of which are used in the essential oil blends for various MONQ diffusers. Please note, however, that while individual ingredients may have been shown to exhibit certain independent effects when used alone, the specific blends of ingredients contained in MONQ diffusers have not been tested. No specific claims are being made that use of any MONQ diffusers will lead to any of the effects discussed above.  Additionally, please note that MONQ diffusers have not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. MONQ diffusers are not intended to be used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, prevention, or treatment of any disease or medical condition. If you have a health condition or concern, please consult a physician or your alternative health care provider prior to using MONQ diffusers. MONQ blends should not be inhaled into the lungs.

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