Citronella oil (Cymbopogon nardus)
Citronella oil is extracted from Cymbopogon nardus (also known as Andropogon nardus) and is of the Graminae (Poaceae) family. It is also known as Sri Lanka or Lenabatu citronella. The oil is used extensively as a source of perfumery chemicals such as citronellal, citronellol, and geraniol. These chemicals find extensive use in soap, candles and incense, perfumery, cosmetic, and flavoring industries throughout the world. Citronella oil is also a plant-based insect repellent and has been registered for this use in the United States since 1948. The United States Environmental Protection Agency considers oil of citronella as a biopesticide with a non-toxic mode of action.
Oil properties: Citronella oil has a slightly sweet, lemony smell. It blends well with bergamot, geranium, lemon, orange, lavender and pine.
Extraction citronella oil: Citronella oil is extracted by the steam distillation of finely chopped fresh, dried or part-dried grass.
Chemical composition: The main chemical components of citronella oil are citronellic acid, borneol, citronellol, geraniol, nerol, citral, citronellal, camphene, dipentene and limonene. Major constituents of the oil were geraniol (35.7% of total volatiles), trans-citral (22.7%), cis-citral (14.2%), geranyl acetate (9.7%), citronellal (5.8%) and citronellol (4.6%). The antifungal assay using the vapor-agar contact method showed that the crude essential oil markedly suppressed the growth of several species of Aspergillus, Penicillium and Eurotium at a dose of 250 mg/L in air. Citronellal and linalool completely inhibited the growth of all tested fungal strains at a dose of 112 mg/L. Their minimum inhibitory doses ranged from 14 to 56 mg/L. The α- and β- pinenes showed an inhibitory activity against some fungi, whereas the other 8 volatile compounds lacked this property.
Precautions: Citronella oil may irritate sensitive skin and cause dermatitis in certain individuals.
Therapeutic properties: The health benefits of Citronella Essential Oil can be attributed to its properties as an antibacterial, antidepressant, antiseptic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, deodorant, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, fungicidal, insect repellent, stomachic, stimulant, tonic and vermifuge substance. Citronella oil has strong antifungal properties, and is effective in calming barking dogs.
- Citronella oil’s most useful quality is that of it being an insect repellent. It is best used in a spray, a diffuser or on a cotton ball amongst linen. It is also useful in ridding cats and dogs of fleas.
- Furthermore, citronella oil helps to clear the mind and has a general toning and tonic effect on the body. It is helpful with colds, flu and minor infections, and has deodorizing qualities.
- Citronella has been proven as an effective antimicrobial for aquatic animals, thus naturally supporting our aquaculture needs. Essential oil of C. nardus demonstrated its potential as alternative to commercial antibacterial agent.
Origin of citronella oil: It is extracted from a hardy grass, native to Sri Lanka and Java. This aromatic perennial grows about 1meter (3 feet) high and is a popular ingredient in wax candles, as an insect repellant, and is also widely used in perfumes, soaps, skin lotions and deodorants. The essential oil of citronella is extracted from two varieties of citronella. The first one is the Ceylon variety, whose scientific name is Cymbopogon nardus and the second one is Java variety, called Cymbopogon winterianus in botanical terminology. In both cases, the essential oil is extracted by steam distillation of the fresh plant.
Benefits Of Citronella Essential Oil
Inhibits Bacterial Growth: Components like methyl isoeugenol and a few others that are found in this essential oil are responsible for this property. They kill bacteria and inhibit any further bacterial growth in the body. This is particularly helpful in treating infections in wounds, as well as in the colon, urethra, urinary bladder, stomach, intestines, urinary tracts, prostate, and kidneys.
Fights Depression: This oil fights depression and gives relief from anxiety, sadness, and negative feelings. It induces a fresh, happy feeling and hope.
Relaxant and Stress Reducer: Commonly used to control emotions in aromatherapy, it can help relax your mind and contribute to reduced stress reactions and better sleep for people who can’t sleep. Try diffusing citronella oil in your home, massaging it into skin or spraying it onto your bed sheets.
Eliminates Infections: The antiseptic properties of this essential oil fight infections in wounds, as well as the urinary tracts, urethra, prostate, and kidneys, while simultaneously protecting them from being sepsis.
Relieves Spasms: It relieves spasms of the muscles, respiratory system, and nervous system. It also helps to cure menstrual spasms and gives relief from symptoms such as cramps and coughs. When it comes to dealing with cramps, swelling and pain, citronella can help improve blood flow that lowers muscle spasms and tenderness. Try massaging citronella oil mixed with a carrier into sore muscles or onto the abdomen when dealing with PMS cramps.
Anti-inflammatory Properties: Citronella essential oil sedates inflammation, particularly those situations which pertain to the liver, stomach, intestines and other parts of the digestive system. The inflammations caused as side effects of drugs, excessive use of alcohol or narcotics, hard & spicy food, any disease, or any toxic element getting into the body can also be alleviated using this oil.
Removes Bad Odor: The crisp, rich citrus or lemon-like aroma of this oil drives away body odor and is used in deodorants and body sprays, although in very small quantities, since in heavy doses it may create skin irritations. It can also be mixed with the bath water to have a refreshing bath.
Eliminates Toxins: The diaphoretic properties of this essential oil increase sweating and promote the removal of toxins and other unwanted materials like excess water, fat, and salts from the body. This makes the body feel lighter, keeps the skin healthy and also reduces fever. This also protects you from certain infections.
Stimulates Urination: The increase in the frequency and quantity of urination due to this property of citronella essential oil has many benefits. It disposes of waste substances and toxins from the body, including uric acid, excess bile, acids, and salts, as well as water and fats. This helps reduce weight, eliminate infections in the urinary system, free the body from toxins, reduce chances of renal calculi, rheumatism, and arthritis, improve digestion, and keep the heart healthy.
Reduces Fever: While the diaphoretic property of this oil increases perspiration, its anti-inflammatory property reduces inflammation, while the antimicrobial property fights infections. The combined effects of these three properties fight fever and reduce body temperature.
Inhibits Fungal Growth: This oil kills fungus and inhibits fungal growth. This is very useful in countering fungal infections in the ear, nose and throat region. Contracting fungal infections in the ears are very common and can be very serious. It eliminates fungal infections in other parts of the body as well and helps cure fungal dysentery.
Insect Repellant: This is one of the most commonly used properties of this essential oil, as it kills and keeps away insects. It has been found particularly effective on a species of mosquito, called Aedes aegypti whose bite causes the dreaded yellow fever. This is also effective on lice, body and head louse, and fleas.
Prevents Stomach Disorders: The use of this oil clears the stomach from infections and other problems and helps it function properly.
Natural Skin Care Remedy: Aside from keeping away bug bites, research shows citronella can also help heal dermatitis, naturally treat eczema, slow skin aging, heal bug bite scars and treat some fungal infections on the skin. It enhances penetration of skin and speeds up wound healing, which might be beneficial for remedying acne, getting rid of warts, treating boils and healing age spots. It can also help skin appear youthful and smoother and even block damage done from sun exposure. Add a very small amount to coconut oil and massage it into the face, or try adding one to two drops to your shower or facial wash. As an easy-to-make home remedy for acne, try dabbing one drop of pure citronella essential oil on blemishes three times a day, but make sure you use a sterile cotton swab.
Pet Controller: Although it might sound strange, citronella oil is effective in calming barking dogs and can even be used on furniture to help keep your pets off. As a bonus, when you spray citronella on your furniture or linens, it keeps them free from bacteria, pests and odors. Add several drops to a spray bottle along with water, shake it up, and spray it throughout your home and on household items.
Natural Shampoo and Conditioner: One of the most popular uses for citronella oil is cleansing and conditioning the hair and scalp. It can help eliminate excess oil and greasiness of hair while also fighting dandruff and adding shine. Many people find it adds volume to hair, detangles knots and helps protect hair color from sun damage. Add several drops to your shampoo or conditioner, or try making your own homemade recipe using a cleansing oil like coconut oil, which also benefits hair.
Homemade Citronella Oil Bug Spray Recipe
- 1/2 cup witch hazel
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 40 drops mixed essential oils (citronella, eucalyptus, lemongrass, tea tree or rosemary)
- glass spray bottle
DIRECTIONS: Mix all ingredients in eight-ounce spray bottle. Spray over all portions of the body, but avoid repellent in eyes and mouth.