Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium bigaradia) is obtained from the bitter orange tree from which Neroli also comes. But unlike Neroli, it is obtained from the leaves and young twigs of the plant. Centuries ago it was obtained from the small unripe fruit when they were barely formed, hence the name Petitgrain, which means ‘small grain’. This proved to be uneconomical and so the name was gradually transferred to the oil from the leaves and young twigs.
Most people like the aroma very much and it blends well with a wide range of oils. A wonderful citrusy blend is Sweet orange, Neroli and Petitgrain, bringing together every part of the orange (Albeit it from two different trees).
Petitgrain, like Neroli, has a calming effect on the emotions. It helps one to fall asleep if the insomnia is caused by unhappiness and loneliness. In the same way, it helps with mild depression-those times of feeling down brought on by loneliness and unhappiness. It is well worth remembering that Petitgrain is not phototoxic and makes a good alternative to Bergamot.
Petitgrain is also useful in skin care applications. It helps to reduce the over-production of sebum and is a gentle and effective antiseptic. This therefore makes it a good oil in the treatment of acne.