Applied to the skin or through massage
Inhalation or Diffusion
Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora) is a medium-sized tree from the Lauraceae family. It has reddish bark and its helically arranged, glabrous and coriaceous leaves are the same as those of the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis).
Native to Japan and Taiwan, it was introduced into Madagascar, where grew a related species, but with different properties (Ravensara aromatica).
Madagascar, island of perfumes, is a hub of world phytotherapy as more than six thousand of the island's plants are studied and some are used by ethnopractitioners according to the database of the Madagascan institute of applied research (IMRA). This prodigious biodiversity was revealed to Europeans during the mid-18th century by the Frenchman Etienne de Flacourt "resident governor" in his History of the island Madagascar (1658). During the 20th century, the botanist Pierre Boiteau scientifically explored this wealth and studied the therapeutic effect of ravintsara. This tree has always been, and remains to this day, the ultimate "medicine tree" of Madagascan populations, its local name meaning "leaves good for everything". The essential oil extracted from these leaves is remarkable for combating viral diseases.
Cultivation and production
Following a shortage period, Ravintsara production now exceeds worldwide demand. The main importers are France, the United States and Great Britain.
The fresh odour of ravintsara is reminiscent of that of eucalyptus.
Extraction and yield
Steam distillation of the leaves gives essential oil of ravintsara, with a yield of 1 to 2%, i.e. one to two kilograms from one hundred kilograms of plant.
The main active constituents of essential oil of Cinnamomum camphora are terpene oxides (1,8-cineol), terpene alcohols (alpha-terpineol) and terpenes (pinenes). Camphor is present only in very small amounts and frequently even absent from the chemical variety cineolifera, contrary to the Japanese variety, that has a high camphor content.
Essential oil of ravintsara is an immune stimulant and a potent antiviral and anti-infectious agent. Thanks to its very broad spectrum of action, it is recommended for preventing and treating all forms of viral infection, particularly respiratory – cold, flu, chills, pharyngitis, laryngitis, bronchitis, rhinopharyngitis – along with seasonal gastroenteritis (always viral), herpes and herpes zoster. It is also a tonic, helping relieve states of extreme fatigue and accelerating convalescence.
Excerpts from the book « Aromatherapia – Tout sur les huiles essentielles », by Isabelle Pacchioni. Aroma Thera Editions.