A specie of the mahogany family, Aglaia odorata is an evergreen tropical bush or small multi-branched tree growing up to 3 metres high. It is native to China and also called Chinese Rice Flower, Chinese Perfume Plant, Chinese Perfume Bonsai Tree, Peppery Orchid, or Mock Lemon. Its Chinese name is Mizilan – and for the flower: Mizilanhua. Besides in China it is also found in Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Laos and Northern Australia.
Aglaia is cultivated as an ornamental tree for its very fragrant flowers in gardens and along roadsides. It prefers warm and moist weather. The shrub produces clusters of tiny yellow flowers which usually do not open. Their bright little balls, 2 – 3 mm in diameter, resemble puffed rice grains and appear all over the year emitting a delicate sweet fragrance, particularly at evening time. Although they are tinier than lentils they radiate their perfume for about 20 feet!
A queen of fragrance and harmony
Aglaia odorata oil is produced as an absolute, which means that the flowers are not distilled but extracted with a solvent like alcohol, hexane, CO2, etc. Aglaia absolute is a green liquid displaying a soft, sweet, floral, fruity bouquet with a woody, herbaceous, spicy undertone – somehow also with a scent of tea and hay. It has a very pleasant aroma profile, whose subtle and etheric perfume makes us feel as if walking into a high-class flower shop filled with the scent of fresh flowers and plants.
Full of precious bio-molecules such as sesquiterpenes, the oil grants stability and a sense of security. This is typical for strong floral notes from Nature: they usually have a balancing and centering psychological effect resolving tensions, soothing sorrow, and opening the heart. In Ayurveda we would apply such a “fragrancer” for imbalances of the “Pitta” and “Vata” doshas – or, otherwise said, for people who are either too fiery or too much in the mind. Aglaia is a tonic for our nerves, especially also for those who are vulnerable, and stuck in communication problems.
Some effects of Aglaia
The branches and leaves of Aglaia are used against pain in rheumatic joints, injuries from falls, superficial infections and toxic swelling. They dispel wind and dampness and remove stasis and swelling.
Internally used, the odorine and orodinol obtained from this plant have been used for feverishness, convulsive illnesses, and menopausal problems. These compounds also unfold cancer chemopreventative activity. A decoction of flowers promotes circulation and can ventilate the lungs to relieve cough and removing mucus if we are suffering from a cold. In China, flowers and roots are used as a tonic. The flowers are also applied for flavoring special sorts of tea.
Aglaia odorata can regulate the production of histamines which work as neurotransmitters for stimuli like pain, inflammation, allergies, itching and stress in general. It has a relaxing effect for muscles and strengthens the cardiovascular system.
And, which is important, it also stimulates the production of serotonin, endorphins, and encephalins. Serotonin has a highly important calming, relaxing, and harmonizing effect on our system. Without sufficient serotonin, people get nervous and may suffer from stomach or intestinal troubles and insomnia. Encephalin makes you cheerful and reduces pain. A lack of encephalins can lead to melancholy and a lack of self-confidence. Endorphins are hormones for happiness giving euphoria. Lacking endorphins may result in indifference, shyness, and reduced joy of life.
“Aglaia Absolute is deeply relaxing, restorative, and calming. It is used to boost moods, encourages emotional healing, to bring peace and calmness, and invokes a state of blissed-out grace.”
Thoughts on the the principle of a flower
And again, typically for strong floral fragrances derived from extracts and essential oils: the essence opens us up deep from within to a subtle energy level which pertains to the special connection of ANY flower with Prana or Q’i. If we want to speak of “plant consciousness” as a helper for the evolution of human consciousness, we can say that the floral Prana in Nature links us to our soul – to the level of our deeper essence hidden behind our physiology.
In Alchemy the flower is connected to “Sulfur” = the colourful, warm, fragrant element in Nature as opposed to “Sal”, the cold, mineral, dense element which is present in the root. Anthroposophy speaks of “Sulfur as harmony of the Air and Fire elements…”, as well as Sulfur being the element of bliss, ecstasy, but also of creation and dissolution (flowers live short lives) – in this sense: of the principle of “death and rebirth”.
This explains what was said before in terms of Ayurveda: that Aglaia flower oil is good for imbalances of the Pitta dosha (fire) and Vata dosha (air and space) – for people who are either too much heated up or too much caught by their thoughts and emotions.
Flowers are the great seducers on Earth! (Fragrance can reach far in space!) Their beauty, colour, aroma helps not only to uplift the soul, but at the same time is used for attraction, procreation, and multiplication. Plants are incredibly creative to take advantage of the world of animals, especially of course of insects, in order to achieve their goal.
It should make us reflect on this amazing connection of the flower with our soul and at the same time with the procreative energy. Maybe with the deep message to understand (or to interpret): In the final end – spiritually they both belong together… And once we have understood that the presence of essential oils in the plant have their origin in this magic interplay of the unmanifest, pranic soul level (astral level) with the manifest, more matter-oriented procreative dynamics, we have a beautiful way to grasp their “inner life” principle which is not far from our own human life principle.
„The whole physiology is just like the physiology of a leaf, the physiology of a flower, physiology of a fruit — the physiology of many, many expressions of the unmanifest, transcendental value of the sap… One doesn’t see the sap, what one sees is leaves, flowers, fruits, branches…”
Maharishi Mahes Yogi
So then, once again: volatility (space element – akasha) and fragrance (linked to the earth element according to Ayurveda), pranic energy and seduction, soul and procreation… the opposites are lively within the flower and in its essential drive which it bestows to ALL essential oils often present in other organs of the plant such as the leaves, the stem, the wood, the root…
And not to forget: There is also an element of “community” in the flower clearly visible in the multifold arrangements of petals, often as “flowers within flowers” like so beautifully present in the Asteraceae family (Sunflower, Chamomile, etc.). Again something to reflect upon: how flowers express togetherness in so many different ways… I once saw in a field of Marguerite flowers (which are already many flowers in one flower) several of the flowers stuck to another one – as if wanting to embrace the one next to them, as if not having enough “community” in their single spheric connectedness as just 1 MANY-IN-ONE flower.
And some practical thoughts :):)
The fresh leaves of Aglaia odorata can be mashed into a paste, prepared with water, and smeared on wounds. In Java, an infusion of leaves is taken for venereal diseases, too. In natural perfumery Aglaia odorata is used in precious wood bases, chypre, fougere, forest notes, incense bouquets, floral notes, and amber bases.
The main chemical compounds of the flowers are sesquiterpenes – a-humulene, –caryophyllene, -cubebene and -gurjunene – also a methyl ester called methyl-jasmonate. Branches and leaves contain triterpenoids, aglaiol, aglaiondiol, aglaitrioland aglaione, alkaloids, odorine, orodinol.
In one study by extracting the volatile compounds of the flowers by super-critical CO2 showed 48 compounds among which were 18 terpenes or sesquiterpenes, 12 esters and other constituents. Alpha-humulene, followed by ethyl-linolenate, germacrene D, beta-elemene, copaene, caryophyllene, methyl-jasmonate, beta-humulene-7-ol, ethyl-palmitate were the major constituents. 6 other compounds were not identified.
Aglaia odorata is also beneficial for sensitive, dry and irritated skin. It lends a radiant, youthful complexion and reduces wrinkles. And it helps to reduce acne.
“Owing to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, Aglaia absolute boosts collagen production and protects the skin from environmental damage and rapid aging. Its highly intriguing and delightful scent makes it an excellent natural fragrance to add to soaps, lotions, bath bombs, natural perfumes, and make-up.
Also in terms of skin cancer Aglaia has a research history, for example:
“Study isolated aminopyrrolidine-diamides, odorine and odorinol from Aglaia odorata. The compounds exhibited potent anti-carcinogenic effects in a two-stage carcinogenesis test of mouse skin induced by DMBA as an initiator and TPA as a promoter. Study showed odorine and odorinol inhibited both the initiation and promotion stages of two-stage skin carcinogenesis.”
Other studies show Aglaia as an efficient solution against Anti-Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1
Aglaia odorata gracefully reminds us that we ARE the flowers; we ARE the earth, the trees, the bushes, the grass. We are made in patterns of “light in matter” – and we share this with everything around us. A beautiful fragrance exhaling from a small Aglaia bottle can spontaneously make us feel this connection with a world that was there long before us and which – somehow magically – prepared the ways for us to settle on this beautiful planet. Our world around us is not as different as we think, and we have no reason to feel superior to anything. If we share the same building blocks of life, why should we not feel connected?
“Every tree, every plant, has a spirit. People may say that a plant has no mind. I tell them that a plant is alive and conscious. A plant may not talk, but there is a spirit in it that is conscious, that sees everything, which is the soul of the plant, its essence, what makes it alive.”
Pablo Amaringo, a Peruvian shaman
Ancient plant knowledge for healing understood that disease always has a spiritual-emotional-energetic aspect to it. And until today traditional “medicine men” know that all disease “originates from an imbalance or disharmony in our emotional and spiritual bodies and that plants are effective in healing these bodies.”
Shamanism is certainly one of the oldest wisdom of mankind to enter into direct contact with the Plant Devas – that is the Higher Intelligence of the Plant Kingdom. It is through this contact that man has received over hundreds of thousands of years the messages of healing on all levels of his existence. And it is without a doubt that the level of „psycho-spiritual opening“– with the medicinal plant as a mediator – has always been the foremost of all curative approaches in the long history of healing on Earth. And now, with the miracle medicine of essential oils distilled/extracted and globally shared we have gained access again collectively in a very special way to Nature’s treasure house of our own spiritual healing.
Interwoven with the cosmic breath of life, we are all “entangled”. A loving glance on a flower can be like a loving glance on the all-embracing Spirit, can be filling us up with admiration and awe, can remind us of our dear ones, can make us weep or smile, can make us feel how much we are ONE with everything around us. This creates humility…
“A flower is a smile of God, its fragrance is His hidden presence”
Sri Paramahamsa Yogananda