The oil traditionally called Ravensara, Ravensara aromatica is a member of the Lauraceae Family. It is a tall leafy evergreen tree 18 to 20 meters high with a reddish-grey bark indigenous to the moist forests of Madagascar.
Ravensara is an abbreviation of the Malagasy words ‘ravina’ which means leaf and ‘tsar’, which means good i.e. the tree with good leaves. There has been a lot of confusion over this oil and for many years Cinnamomum camphora ct. 1,8-cineole was also sold as Ravensara. The chemical profiles of these two oils are quite different and it becomes apparent when looking at these that the oil commonly referred to as Ravensara, was in fact Ravintsara (Cinnamomun camphora ct. 1,8-cineole). In more recent times essential oil suppliers and aromatherapy writers have started to correct this confusion and differentiate between these two quite different oils however some confusion may still exist so it is important to make sure from your supplier exactly which oil you have.
Chemically Ravensara consists of: 44 — 74% monoterpenes (including pinene, thujene, camphene, sabinene, delta — 3 carene, myrcene, terpinene, limonene, phellandrene); 4 — 11% alcohols (a-terpineol, terpinene-4-ol, linalool, fenchol); 2 — 12% phenols (Methyl chavicol); 1.8 — 3.5% oxides (1,8-cineole) and 1 — 14% sesquiterpenes (caryophyllene). On the other hand, Ravintsara consists of: 22 — 41% monoterpenes (pinene, camphene, sabinene, myrcene, terpinene, limonene, phellandrene; 53 — 68% oxides (1,8-cineole) and less than 1% sesquiterpenes (caryophyllene). Based on the properties traditionally associated with Ravensara it becomes clear that most authors were in fact talking about Ravintsara, not Ravensara.
A clear essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves of both these plants. Ravensara is considered to have a licorice like while Ravintsara has a more camphorous and eucalyptus-like aroma. So just by smelling the two oils you can quite easily differentiate one from the other.
Both Ravensara and Ravintsara will blend well with a lot of essential oils including eucalyptus, woods, spices, citrus and florals.
Ravensara has powerful tonic and antiviral properties and is considered to be effective for detoxification and for digestion complaints as well as stress reduction. Ravintsara has strong anti-infectious, antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, antispasmodic, analgesic, carminative, expectorant and immune stimulant properties.
Psychologically, Ravensara is helpful anxiety, stress and related illnesses. Ravintsara is mind clearing and helpful for nervous fatigue and depression.
On the physiological level Ravintsara is excellent as an immune stimulant and can be helpful in countering bacterial and viral infections, flu, chicken pox. It is often very useful during convalescence. Ravensara is helpful for muscular aches and pains as well as digestive complaints.
Contraindications:. Generally considered non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing. Avoid during pregnancy and with babies and small children.
Beverley Hawkins, Aromatherapy 201 Course 1999 revised 2000, 2001,2003, 2004Return to Article Archives