10 Citronella Oil Benefits That Researchers Have Proved

Did you know that citronella is a natural insect repellent? Well, yes. It can ward off those pesky mosquitoes and other small insects. However, the citronella oil benefits aren’t limited to being a wonderful repellent.

Citronella oil is widely used in anti-barking dog collars, perfumes, soaps, candles, incense and cosmetics.

So, let’s understand what this essential oil has to offer.

What is Citronella Oil?

what is citronella essential oil

Citronella essential oil is obtained from the leaves and stems of different species of Cymbopogon (or lemongrass) through steam distillation. (1)

The oil of citronella is a wonderful insect repellent, and this specific use has also been registered in the United States from 1948.

The United States environmental protection agency mentions citronella oil as a potent bio-pesticide, which is nontoxic and 100% safe. It is also found effective against dog bites and can be sprayed on the wound (but in diluted form) to speed the healing process. (2)

Fact: The annual production of citronella oil is more than 4000 tonnes worldwide. It is widely used as a food flavoring agent and medicinal herb.

About the citronella plant:

Citronella is a member of the Poaceae or Germinaceae family.

It is used as a culinary plant or herb and as a natural flavouring agent in most Asian dishes. Citronella is also known as lemongrass. The plant has thin elongated leaves, which are usually found in bunches.

Citronella plants can grow up to 12 inches in height. They are widely found in Asia, China, and Indonesia.

Fact: China & Indonesia are the main producers of citronella. Together, they contribute 40% of the world’s total supply.

It is also cultivated in Guatemala, Brazil, Honduras, Sri Lanka, Argentina, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Ecuador, and South Africa.

The other common names of citronella are Java citronella grass, citronella, citronella grass Egte citrongraes, Feng Mao, La ding mei Zhou Xiang Mao, Maha Pengiri Gras, Java Zitronengras, Citronella de Java, and Dton ja kai ma Koot.

Scientific Name of Citronella Oil

The botanical name of citronella is Cymbopogon nardus.

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History of Citronella Oil

Citronella is native to Sri Lanka. The earliest exhibition of citronella was from 1851 when it was primarily introduced as “nard oil” and even was confused with spikenard oil.

Due to its insecticidal property, it was used as an insect repellent. It has a sweet, pleasant odor and hence, was widely used in the preparation of perfumes, wax candles, soaps, and other cosmetics.

The essential oil is also produced in Guatemala, Taiwan, Brazil, Honduras, India, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, Argentina, Madagascar, Jamaica, South Africa, and Mexico.

Citronella oil is often synthesized with chemicals like turpentine, which are derivatives of derived conifers. So, it is vital to buy natural citronella oil whose derivatives are from its own plant.

Color, Consistency, and Smell of Citronella Oil

  • The color of citronella oil is pale yellow to dark yellowish
  • The consistency of citronella oil is light.
  • The smell of citronella oil is warm, citrusy, and woody.

Properties of Citronella Essential Oil

The medicinal properties of citronella oil include: (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14)

  • Antibacterial - Eliminates bacterial infections and bacterial growth
  • Antidepressant - Helps in overcoming depression and a mood elevator
  • Antiseptic - Cures sepsis
  • Antispasmodic - Treats muscular spasms
  • Anti-inflammatory - Lowers swelling, pain, and redness
  • Antipyretic - Reduces fever
  • Analgesic – Natural painkiller
  • Deodorant - Removes bad odor
  • Diaphoretic – Effective sweating agent
  • Diuretic - Increases urination
  • Fungicidal – Heals fungal infections
  •  Insect repellent - Kills insects
  • Stomachic – Aids healthy digestion
  • Stimulant - Stimulates mind & body
  •  Vermifuge - Kills intestinal worms

Chemical Compounds in Citronella Oil

citronella essential oil

Citronella essential oil has a wide range of chemical constituents. Researchers have identified more than 80 constituents in it. (15)

The main constituents of citronella essential oil are citronellal & citronellal.

The other components are citronellyl acetate, ellemol, L-limonene, and few sesquiterpene alcohols. It also has few monoterpenes such as citronellol, citral, linalool, limonene, elemol, geraniol, methyl heptenone, b-carophyllene, 1-8 cineole, geranyl formate, and geranyl acetate.

Citronella oil is used as an effective mosquito repellent. This property is mainly due to these 4 chemical components:

  • Eugenol
  • Limonene
  • Citronellol
  • Geraniol

For the antimicrobial activity, the responsible components are:

  • Carvone
  • Citronellal
  • Limonene
  • Trans-geraniol

Its inhibitory effect is shown by:

  • Menthone
  • Trans-geranione
  • Citronellol

Health Benefits of Citronella Oil

Though citronella oil benefits are numerous, the most important ones that have gained a lot of popularity in recent years through different studies include:

  • Effective mosquito repellent
  • Prevents bacterial infections
  • Prevents intestinal worms
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Increases urination
  • Helps overcome depression
  • Increases perspiration
  • Improves heart health
  • Removes bad odor

1. Effective mosquito repellent

Citronella essential oil is a strong herb whose aromatic compounds can repel mosquitoes and other insects. This is mainly due to its powerful insecticidal properties.

The insecticidal properties of citronella is attributed to its compounds - eugenol, limonene, Citronellol, and geraniol. (16)

So, rather using those chemical-based repellents, especially the ones with DEET, we suggest you to use a completely safe drug like citronella oil to ward off insects.

It can be applied on the skin by diluting it with a suitable carrier oil, can be sprayed, and even be sprinkled on the crops to kill insects.

2. Prevents bacterial infections

Citronella essential oil is a safe antibacterial drug. It can inhibit the growth of bacteria and heal the infection as well.

The antibacterial properties of citronella are mainly attributed to the compound - methyl isoeugenol. (17)

Besides preventing the growth of bacterial colonies, it also treats the wounds of urethra, stomach, colon, urinary tract, prostate, kidney, urinary bladder, and intestines.

3. Prevents intestinal worms

Citronella oil prevents the growth of intestinal worms and cures any infection occurred from them. Infection due to parasitic worms has multiple side effects. It hinders the normal physical and mental growth of the children.

Intestinal worms can even puncture a child’s intestine and can cause death. However, the drugs prepared from citronella oil are often used to treat intestinal worms. (18)

4. Reduces inflammation

Citronella oil has anti-inflammatory properties. Thus, it helps in reducing inflammation in the liver, intestine, stomach, and whole digestive system.

Inflammation can be a side effect of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, food allergy, and several diseases.

Inflammation acts and occurs as the first line of defense in your body. It indicates that there is an incidence of infection or allergen in your body tissues. The affected tissues become red, and inflamed, followed by pain and rise in body temperature.

However, the compounds citronellol and geraniol are the important constituents of citronella oil that play a key role in reducing inflammation. (19)

5. Increases urination

Citronella oil is found highly effective in treating cardiac problems like hypertension. Wondering why?

Well, citronella is diuretic in nature and this property helps in reducing excess salts from your body via urine. (20, 21)

When excess salt is removed from the body, your blood pressure is controlled and maintained. No wonder hypertension patients are prescribed different diuretic medicines to keep their blood pressure maintained.

But since citronella oil is a natural diuretic, it can be used. It can either be diffused using a diffuser or diluted with a carrier oil to use it for massage.

6. Helps overcome depression

Citronella oil is a natural antidepressant, mainly due to the compound citronellyl acetate. This property makes it an effective drug for other associated problems such as stress and anxiety. (22, 23)

So, the next time you are feeling a little down, try diffusing a few drops of citronella oil and inhale its aromatic compounds to feel relaxed.

7. Increases perspiration

Perspiration is an effective method your body undergoes to reduce body temperature, remove unwanted acids, and prevent bacterial infections on the skin.

Citronella is a wonderful diaphoretic agent. It helps in reducing toxins and excess salts from your body through perspiration (or sweat).

Citronellol, a chemical constituent of citronella, plays an important role in the process of perspiration. (24)

8. Improves heart health

Citronella oil is also effective in maintaining your heart’s health. It is a well-known diuretic, diaphoretic, and antioxidant. It eliminates toxins and excess salts via urine & perspiration. (25)

It also removes excess fat from your body. When fat cells are removed, they do not get deposited in arteries in the form of cholesterol. This, in turn, prevents your heart from cardiac arrest or heart attack.

Healthy blood pressure is effective in maintaining your overall renal and kidney health.

9. Removes bad odor

Bad odor is due to the secretion of multiple pheromones in your body. These pheromones are a mixture of different types of waste and hormones secreted by your through perspiration.

Citronella oil has wonderful deodorant properties, which help in removing bad odor. This is mainly due to the presence of sesquiterpenes in it. (26)

Citronella oil is widely used in deodorants to remove body odor. It is also used as a natural floor cleaner.

Just a few drops of citronella oil when mixed in bathing water helps in reducing or removing bad smell.

10. Prevents fungal infections

Citronella oil is a potent antifungal agent. It is considered to be a safe drug and found helpful in treating fungal infections occurring in the ears, nose, and throat. (27)

Fungal infections in the ears are common and can cause severe neural issues. However, citronella (diluted) is often used in the form of ear drops for treating fungal infections. Linalool is an effective compound useful for fungal infection.

What Blends with Citronella Oil?

Citronella oil blends the best with:

How To Use Citronella Oil?

how to use citronella oil

Like any other essential oil, citronella oil should be diluted before using it on the skin.

  • Aromatherapy: Diffuse a few drops of citronella oil in a diffuser to inhale its vapors.
  • Mosquito repellent: Mix 10 drops of citronella oil with 10 drops of rosemary oil. Add this to ½ - 1 cup vinegar or water. Store this mixture in a spray bottle and use it whenever required.
  • Massage: Mix 5 drops of citronella oil with 2 tablespoons of sweet almond oil or jojoba oil. Use this mixture to massage your body.

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Side Effects of Citronella Oil

  • Citronella grass is considered as a safe and secure drug. However, it is unsafe if consumed orally in high amounts.
  • Overdose or excess inhalation is unsafe and might cause lung damage.
  • It is also unsafe for pregnant women and lactating mothers.
  • It is not recommended for infants and toddlers because they have softer skin and citronella oil can be harsh, causing It skin burns and severe irritation.
  • The oil must not be applied topically if you have sensitive skin.
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