Focus on essential oils – Litsea Cubeba

litsea cubiba

Recently we discovered a new essential oil, Litsea Cubeba.  Its a mysterious name, with almost as mysterious a fragrance.  The common name for the plant is May Change, an evergreen tree that is in the Lauracea family (Mountain laurels).  May Change is native to China and much of Southeast Asia, where is is called “mountain pepper” (山胡椒) in Mandarin and maqaw (馬告) by the Atayal aborigines in Taiwan.”  The tree blooms, then produces small fruit that resemble pepper corns, however the fragrance is a bright citrus like fragrance with heavy lemon notes.  The essential oil can be produced from the leaves however the essential oil that is produced from the fruit is the more desirable oil.

Like so many other essential oils, qualities of these plants are beneficial or helpful.  As a reminder, we use it in our soap but research suggests there are benefits of this oil topically.  Due to its enticing “lemony” fragrance, Litsea Cubeba is widely used in the perfumery and cosmetic industry. Like most citrus oils, its scent is immediately uplifting and rejuvenating, which makes it very useful for combating emotional problems and psychological issues.  From a therapeutic standpoint, Litsea Cubeba is known to possess antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, and has been found effective in fighting away colds and other infections.

One of the more interesting facts about this essential oil is the use in medical trials.  From the professional medical journal published by the Public Library of Science (a nonprofit open access scientific publishing project aimed at creating a library of open access journals and other scientific literature under an open content license) there is an article about trialing use of this essential oil on lung cancer with great success. Impressive information.   Here is the link to the article (if you are interested)

Vapor of Volatile Oils from Litsea cubeba Seed Induces Apoptosis and Causes Cell Cycle Arrest in Lung Cancer Cells

So what are we using it for?  Soap – Beer soap specifically.  With a deep heady beer scent, the litsea cubiba brings a fresh citrus scent that lightens the fragrance of the soap.  We are still curing this soap, but will take photos when it is ready to roll out to the market.



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