Citronella Essential Oil - Properties, Benefits and Uses

Citronella essential oil is well-known as primarily an insect repellent, though it can also be used in an essential oil diffuser in aromatherapy, or even as an exotic flavoring in dishes. It is extracted from Cymbopogon nardusand Cymbopogon winterianus grasses. The oil contains approximately 30% citronellal and 40% geraniol.

There are two known varieties of citronella - the Nahapengeri or the Java type and the Lenabatu or the Ceylon type. The latter is grown solely in Sri Lanka and accounts for very small portion of world production and exports. It is harder than the Java type, has narrow leaves and long life. It is used as deodorant in mosquito repellants and as scent so soaps, sprays, disinfectant, paints and polish. The Nehapengeri on the other hand, is broad-leafed and requires good soil and intensive care during the growing period. Its oil is used mainly as starting material in preparing perfumery compounds derived from geraniol, citronellol and citronellal.

The oil from citronella forms good blends with the essential oils of cedar wood, clary sage, eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, lemon, peppermint and rosemary and tea tree.

What does it do?

It is an ingredient in several products made and manufactured for the protection of humans and pets against insects, particularly lice, ticks and mosquitoes. Its insect repellant powers have been verified by research, and the oil can be incorporated into products like a spritz on clothing, lotions or soaps, and candles. Citronella essential oil is harmless to people, although there an occasional allergic reaction may cause a mild irritation.

The citronella scent is described as citrus-like, similar to lemon-grass, slightly fruity and sweet. Although it does not significantly harm or alter them in any way, the smell of citronella is extremely unpleasant to insects. A lotion with 10% concentration of citronella oil has been shown to deter insects for up to an hour. This is highly advantageous as pests like mosquitoes and ticks are carriers of microorganisms that subsequently cause encephalitis and Lyme disease.

Health benefits of citronella essential oil include its antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties, among several others. Depression, spasms, fevers, parasitic intestinal worms and stomach aches are among common ailments the can be treated by citronella oils.

Its antibacterial and antiseptic effects are reported to effectively eliminate wound infections, ease the irritation of insect bites and destroy head and body lice, especially. Bacterial diseases of the prostate, kidneys, stomach and intestines can be cured by citronella essential oil. The oil is also used to treat maladies of the urethra, bladder and urinary tract.

Citronella essential oil can ease heartburn as well as side effects from alcohol and drug abuse. It also helps treat inflammations of the digestive system and fungal infections (due to methyl components), and may help eliminate toxic substances from the body. It increases metabolism and boosts the immune system, improving overall bodily

People who suffer from depression have reportedly found relief by taking doses of citronella essential oil, especially in aromatherapy. The fragrance is known to uplift the spirits and can be particularly calming, creating a invigorating sense of relaxation. The ingestion of the oil has also been attributed to the relief of menstrual cramps and muscle spasms. By increasing perspiration, it has been touted as a toxic cleanser that reduces fever and prevents certain infections.

Used as a topical treatment, citronella essential oil may also help prevent body odor and improve the tone of human muscles. It may promote blood circulation and increase the discharge of glandular enzymes and hormones. Oily skin and hair are reportedly improved by the application of citronella oil.

What are the precautions?

Citronella essential oil poses minimal or no risks to wildlife, because of its low toxicity and limited uses it is not harmful to the environment. It is also organic. There are no significant side effects or detriments to humans, although an occasional allergic reaction crops up causing a mild skin irritation. It is advised that any allergy to citronella be checked first before use of the product. A precaution is also advised for pregnant women.

Who may benefit from citronella oil?

Anyone looking to take a relaxing afternoon off will do well with citronella essential oil in aromatherapy. The medical benefits are jackpot bonuses to a calming session after a stressful day. Backpackers or individuals spending large amounts of time outdoors will find that its insect repellent properties are rather effective, as shown by studies and as observed by countless others. It also makes a great addition to first aid kits, taking into account its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Citronella essential oil is available to the general public in local stores or malls, and may also be ordered online.