Ravintsara – a winter-wonder oil

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Essential oil properties

The powerful, natural antiviral action for ravintsara was confirmed in 2003 by the work of researchers Jassim & Naji from the Department of Microbiology, Zayed Complex for Herbal Research and Traditional Medicine, General Authority for Health Services of Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  They demonstrated the oil’s action on two significant fronts – the inhibition of the formation of viral nucleic acids [DNA & RNA], as well as on the inhibition of viral replication.  In 2004 researchers Wang & Liu Wei drew similar conclusions, and added to them.  They found that the cell was protected from oxidative stress by ravintsara’s superoxide dismutase.  In 2006, a study by Lee & Kim Hyun demonstrated that 1,8-cineole, found in up to 70% in Ravintsara, was a potent inhibitor of inflammatory mediators.  These studies all confirm the oil’s excellent antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, which indicates that besides its respiratory-specific indications it’s also a good oil for treating fibromyalgic conditions.

An ‘aide mémoire’ about 1,8-cineole in relation to Ravintsara and respiratory problems

As most aromatherapists know, this chemical constituent is known to have many properties that make it an ideal choice [when present in significant amounts in essential oils] for winter ailments.  For the benefit of non-professional readers, it is for example: analgesic, anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial [antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal], antiseptic,  antispasmodic, antitussive, bronchodilatory, expectorant, mucolytic,   energising,  stimulant [immuno, cardio, & respiratory], neurotonic/nervine [especially relative to tension headaches].  This healing oxide is an excellent all-round respiratory function enhancer, which is backed up by conventional research that shows it can control mucus hypersecretion, and bronchial asthma, via anti-inflammatory cytokine inhibition. 1,8-cineole is dominant in several essential oils, besides Ravintsara [average 50%+] e.g. Agonis fragrans [fragonia +-30%], Cinnamosma fragrans [saro +-45%], Eucalyptus globulus,  radiata &  polybractea [blue gum, narrow-leaf mint & blue mallee +-70% – 95%, respectively], Helichrysum gymnocephalum [also a Madagascan oil, and grown in SA, +-66%], Helichrysum odoratissimum [+-30%], Lavendula latifolia [spike lavender +- 22%], Laurus nobilis [bay laurel +-40%], Melaleuca cajeputii [cajeput +- 50%], Melaleuca ericifolia [Rosalina +-30%], Melaleuca quinquenervia ct 1,8 cineole [Niaouli +-50%], Myrtus communis [common myrtle +- 30%], and Rosmarinus officinalis 1,8-cineole [common rosemary +-50%].

Aromatherapeutic and clinical indications for Ravintsara

When it comes to winter lurgies, Ravintsara is a potent antiviral, with immune-boosting properties, respiratory-specific actions, and an excellent safety profile for adults, children and those of frail disposition. At the risk of over-stating the obvious, viral and bacterial respiratory conditions like colds, ‘flu, coughs, catarrh, sore throat, tonsillitis, laryngitis, sinusitis, bronchitis and otitis would all benefit from this oil.  Other viral conditions, like cold sores/fever blisters [herpes simplex – a drop of undiluted oil to the oral lesion works wonders], shingles [herpes zoster], chicken pox, and mononucleosis [glandular fever], all respond well to Ravintsara treatment too.  Other indications for the use of this wonder oil include: immune deficiency states, lymphatic congestion, insomnia, anxiety, stress, depression, neuralgia, musculoskeletal pain, lethargy, chronic fatigue, and nervous and physical exhaustion.

Methods of application

It can be used via many different methods of aromatherapeutic application – atmospheric diffusion, wet/steam or dry inhalation, topically in dilution or concentrated aromatic perfusion, gargles, ointments, lotions, gels, in baths, compresses, air mists etc.  In fact, in any way that takes your fancy.  Just use it!  Ravintsara is very popular in France as an aromatic medicine superstar oil.  A prestigious Belgian essential oil company recommends applying 3 drops of undiluted oil topically on the arch of each foot, or on the chest, mornings and evenings as a prophylaxis to winter-virus attacks.  It’s also great for decongesting the sinuses and opening a blocked nose when applied via nasal stick-inhaler.  An application of the stick inhaler to each nostril, a few big sniffs, and nasal airflow is greatly improved.

Blends well with

It blends well with many other essential oils including all the citruses and the balsams, the eucalypti, bay laurel, black spruce, cardamom, cypress, frankincense [great for helping one breathe too – on all levels], juniper, rosemary and even various florals.

Subtle aromatherapy ~ Body/mind

At a metaphysical level Ravintsara relates to the 5th and 6th chakras.  Energetically it is also indicated for helping one to overcome fear and realise one’s potential.  Due to its alpha-terpineol content the oil has a particularly relaxing effect on the central nervous system.  It is therefore considered an excellent oil for both the emotional and physical bodies.

Safety, toxicity and caution

In my clinical experience this oil appears to be extremely gentle and devoid of toxicity at physiological doses, and I’ve even used it on young babies, in a chest rub, without any untoward effect.  However, as with all oxide-rich essential oils, oxidation [i.e. old or poorly stored oils] can increase the likelihood of dermal irritation or sensitisation. The standard caution applies to the use of essential oils with allergy-prone individuals, especially regarding topical and inhalation methods of application.  Steam inhalations should also be used with care with asthmatics, infants and young children, relative to the risk of glottal or bronchial spasms from steam.

In conclusion, let me leave you with the following statement I found, relative to world demand for this incredible oil: 

‘Since a 2003 scientific study [Jassim, SAA and Naji, MA] has proved Ravintsara [C.camphora ct 1,8-cineole] to be the strongest natural antiviral, the demand has exploded.  Pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries from Europe and North America are the most interested by this plant with multiple virtues.  The world demand is estimated to be around 600 tons of Ravintsara essential oil whereas Madagascar, the sole producer in the world, hardly managed to produce 80 tons of ravintsara essential oil in 2010.  In 2011 the best quality ravintsara essential oil was sold around $350 a liter on the international market.  At the moment, demand for Ravintsara outstrips the supply and is likely to do so for some time.  It is one of the most valuable oils in the aromatherapy repertoire and, supply permitting, has the potential for becoming a star such as lavender or tea tree.’

I truly hope you enjoy, and find useful, the following formulations and that you’ll have a hale and hearty winter as a result!  


I love combining another Madagascan oil, Saro [Cinnamosma fragrans] aka ‘Mandravasarotra’ [which means ‘what keeps evil away’ in Malagasy], with Ravintsara.

Immuno-boost and cold-air diffuser formula

  • 15 drops Ravintsara [C.camphora ct 1,8-cineole]
  • 15 drops Saro [C.fragrans]
  • 10 drops May chang [Litsea cubeba]
  • 10 drops Lemon [Citrus limonum] or Lemon eucalyptus [E.citriodora]

‘Flu & viral respiratory infections formula

A French aromatic perfusion concentrate for adults:

  • 50 drops Ravintsara [C.camphora ct 1,8-cineole]
  • 20 drops Eucalyptus [E.radiata]
  • 20 drops Bay [Laurus nobilis]
  • 20 drops Rosewood [Aniba rosaeodora] or Ho-wood [C.camphora ct linalol]
  • 10 drops Thyme [Thymus vulgaris ct thujanol, or Benchmark thyme]
  • 8 drops [total] on the chest and the back 3-4 times per day for the duration of the infection.  

For availability of Ravintsara and other pure essential oils, as well as more information about the therapeutic use of Ravintsara oil, please contact Dr Sandi Nye (info@drsandinye.com).


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