Litsea (May Chang) Essential Oil

Litsea (Litsea cubeba) sometimes called May Chang, is a citrusy, sweet, and somewhat fruity smelling essential oil many find uplifting and refreshing, as well as calming and emotionally restorative. The scent could be compared to that of Lemongrass, although it’s a bit more tangy and fruity. Litsea essential oil is often used for skin health –diluted and applied topically, it works great to beautify and cleanse greasy, acne-prone skin. But Litsea is a versatile oil with other uses which can make it a valued addition to health and wellbeing beyond its more popular use for skin-care.

Main Components

  • Geranial
  • Neral
  • (+)-Limonene
  • Citronellal


  • Antifungal
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antiviral
  • Astringent
  • Calming
  • Tonic


Although inflammation is a normal part of the body’s healing process, there are instances where the inflammatory process can become destructive, develop into a chronic condition, and contribute to disease and poor health. In these cases, relieving inflammation can promote healing and may help relieve pain associated with the condition.  Litsea has been found to exhibit an immunosuppressive effect which may potentially be used as a treatment for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases(1). Litsea may also help provide relief for those with inflammation due to autoimmune diseases (such as with rheumatoid arthritis). For use in these cases, it can be diluted and applied topically to areas of concern to help soothe and comfort stiff and inflamed joints or muscles, or alternatively add a few diluted drops into a capsule and swallow.

Improve Health

The antimicrobial and antiviral properties of Litsea may provide a boost to the immune system during seasonal cold and flu outbreaks. Its clean, pleasant scent also adds an uplifting emotional boost while its helping kill airborne germs and reducing the chances of getting sick. A great way to enjoy these benefits is to diffuse Litsea in your family room, kitchen, or another area of your house where people tend to congregate.

There may be other added benefits of diffusing Litsea. One promising study demonstrates that the volatile compounds present in Litsea essential oil may affect lung cancer cells through the deactivation of Akt, which results in induction of apoptotic death and retardation of cell cycle progression. The study expects to draw attention as vapor induced destruction of lung cancer cells would have significant dimension in relation to its ability to deliver to target tissue(2).

Other ways to use Litsea around the home would be to add Litsea to your homemade cleaners, such as laundry or dish soap, personal cleaners, or housekeeping blends, to enjoy extra protection from illnesses and rid your home or office of harmful germs.

Improve Mood & Sleep

Litsea essential oil is one of those remarkable oils that manages to be both calming as well as uplifting. Due to its calming properties and fresh aroma, it offers the perfect combination of relaxing and soothing while it brightens and uplifts. Litsea can be used to help create a comforting and positive environment perfect for those looking to forget the day’s troubles and unwind. For individuals with insomnia due to an overactive mind or excessive stress, Litsea may offer relief. It may be diluted and applied topically to any reflex or pulse points, or alternately diffused in the air to help create an atmosphere of well-being and relaxation perfect for sleep.

How to use for Skin Care

Litsea essential oil is powerful and should be diluted well to a low concentration, about .5% to .8% dilution, so about 3 drops of Litsea to 2 teaspoons of carrier oil, before topical application. Though it can be diluted lower down to 1 drop per teaspoon or less if desired. Litsea may then be used to spot-check acne or to treat blemishes, to cleanse skin, or on feet and nails to help fight or prevent fungus. Its astringent properties mean it may be used to help tighten and improve the texture and tone of skin. For more information on dilution rates for essential oils, please visit the Davina Wellness Dilution Guidelines page.

General usage guidelines

Always dilute with a vegetable, seed, or nut carrier oil like coconut, jojoba, or avocado oil. See dilution guidelines. With any internal use, we recommend consulting with an aromatherapist or other naturopathic health care provider. Since essential oils are processed by the liver, if you have a compromised liver or liver disease, we strongly recommend working with your healthcare provider before use.

Topical: Apply 1-2 diluted drops onto the area of concern. Add up to a .8% dilution rate to unscented body, skin or hair care products.

Internal: Dilute with a carrier oil or add to milk to evenly disperse essential oil. Once diluted, it can be added to the beverage or food of your choice. Add 2-3 diluted drops to a capsule and swallow. Gargle with 1-2 drops of diluted essential oil.

Aromatic: Diffuse in room diffuser or nebulizer. Inhale from the bottle directly or add to a drop to tissue and inhale. Add a drop to palms of hands and cover nose and mouth and inhale. Add a few drops to a bowl of steaming (not boiling) water and place head with a towel over bowl and inhale.  To make an air or cleaning spray, add 10-20 drops to water in a spray bottle and spritz on surfaces or in the air*.

Cleaning: To make a simple cleaning spray, add 10-20 drops to 1 oz. water in a spray bottle and spritz on surfaces or in the air*.

* Make this fresh every few weeks, because it doesn’t have preservatives in it, and water shortens the therapeutic life of the oils.



Hazards: Drug interactions; teratogenicity; skin allergy.

Cautions (all routes): Drugs metabolized by CYP2B6

Cautions (oral) Diabetes medication, pregnancy.

Cautions (dermal): Hypersensitive, diseased or damaged skin, children under 2 years of age.

Maximum daily oral dose in pregnancy: 56 mg

Maximum dermal use level: 0.8%(3)


1). Hsin-Chun Chen et al. (2016) Immunosuppressive effect of Litsea cubeba essential oil on dendritic cell and contact hypersensitivity responses. Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Aug; 17(8): 1319. Published online 2016 Aug 12. doi:  10.3390/ijms17081319

2). Seal, S., Chatterjee, P., Bhattacharya, S., Pal, D., Dasgupta, S., Kundu, R., … Bhattacharya, S. (2012). Vapor of Volatile Oils from Litsea cubeba Seed Induces Apoptosis and Causes Cell Cycle Arrest in Lung Cancer Cells. PLoS ONE, 7(10), e47014.

3). Tisserand, R., & Young, R. (2014). Essential oil safety: a guide for health care professionals. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.

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