Litsea Cubeba (also known as Cantonese May Chang) is a tropical tree with evergreen leaves and originates in China, Indonesia, Taiwan, as well as in other regions of Southeast Asia. The tree can reach a height of up to 12 meters, but its flowers are small in size. Their small fruit is often used to produce a volatile essential oil with a fragrant aroma, famous for its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, sedative and tonic properties. It is mainly used in the cosmetics industry, as an important ingredient in natural soaps, shower oils or body lotions, as well as in perfumes, due to its aromatherapeutic properties.
Even though it has been known for most of its history under its botanical name “litsea cubeba”, the tree has recently been established in the cosmetic and beauty industry under the name of May Chang. This is due to its Asian origin, where it was used more than 1,000 years ago in aromatherapy sessions for the emperors Jin, Xia, Yuan and Ming and Qing. Also used in Ayurveda, litsea cubeba plants were recognized for their antiseptic properties long before the emergence of modern medicine.
Used almost exclusively in the form of essential oil obtained by steam distillation of its fruits, litsea cubeba is known as a soothing, antidepressant and strong sedative. It has the gift of ameliorating, with aromatherapy, the state of nervous agitation that causes insomnia. The beneficial effects extend overnight, eliminating sudden awakening and thus ensuring a peaceful and restful sleep. Also, the essential oil of litsea cubeba can fight the states of anxiety, agitation or depression.