Essential Oil Profile: May Chang

By Amelia E. Stone, RN


Common Name:  May Chang

Latin Binomial:  Litsea cubeba

Family:  Lauraceae

Other Common Names: Exotic Verbena, Tropical Verbena, Pheasant pepper tree

Production Method: Steam Distilled

Countries of Origin: China

Typical Constituents: Geranial (37.9- 40.6%), Neral (25.5-33.8%), [+]-Limonene (8.4-22.6%), Methyl heptenone (0.5-4.4%), b-Myrcene (0.5-3.0%), Linalool (1.2-1.7%), Geraniol (0.5-1.6%), Sabinene (0.1-1.6%), Linalyl acetate (0.8-1.6%), α-Pinene (0.8-1.4%), b-Pinene (0.4-1.2%), Nerol (0.2-1.1%)

Description of Oil: pale yellow to clear, intensely lemon-like, fresh and sweet aroma (sweeter than lemongrass but less tenacious)

Description of Plant: A small tropical tree with fragrant leaves and flowers.  The small fruits,  shaped like cubeb peppers, are used to produce May Chang.

History, Folklore and Myth: Used in Chinese medicine to treat a variety of conditions.

Properties and Uses:  antidepressant, antiseptic, astringent, carminative, galactagogue, insecticide, stimulant, tonic, creates a ‘sunny’ atmosphere

Precautions and Contraindications: HAZARDS: Drug interaction; teratogenicity; skin allergy

CAUTIONS (DERMAL): Hypersensitive, diseased or damaged skin, children under 2 years of age, diabetes medication, pregnancy


Other Interesting Information: The bark and leaves of the plant produce two other oils.  At this time they are of no commercial significance.

References: Battaglia, Salvatore. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. Virginia, Queensland, Australia: The Perfect Potion. 1995.

Lawless, Julia. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. Shaftesbury, Dorset. Element Books. 1995.

Tisserand, Robert, and Tony Balacs. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone. 1995.

Sellar, Wanda. The Directory of Essential Oils. London: Random House. 2005

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