CITRONELLA OIL VARIETIES, USES, AND BENEFITS
HISTORY OF CITRONELLA OIL
Exuding a rich, fresh, uplifting scent similar to that of lemon, this fragrant grass has earned the name Citronella from the French word meaning “lemon balm.” Citronella is commonly mistaken for Lemongrass, as they share a similar appearance, growth, and processing method; however, the two plants are considered to be “cousins,” as they simply belong to the same plant family – the Cymbopogon family, which is commonly referred to simply as Lemongrass. The easiest way to tell them apart is to remember that Lemongrass has off-white pseudostems while those of the Citronella plant are reddish in color.
For centuries, Citronella Oil has been a natural medicinal remedy and a food ingredient in China, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia. It is traditionally used as a flavoring agent in culinary applications, a soothing agent for pain, infections, rashes, and inflammation, a non-toxic insect-repelling agent, a natural and fragrant household cleaning agent, and an ingredient in perfumery, soaps, detergents, scented candles, and cosmetic products. Citronella Oil continues to be valued and applied for its cleansing, disinfecting, freshening, and deodorizing properties.
CITRONELLA OIL BENEFITS
Ceylon and Java are the two varieties of Citronella from which the essential oil is derived via steam distillation of their fresh leaves. The main chemical composition of Citronella Oil’s two varieties is similar but the constituents vary in their amounts:
The main chemical constituents of Citronella Ceylon Oil, which is derived from the Cymbopogon nardus botanical, are Geraniol, Camphene, Limonene, Methyl isoeugenol, Geranyl acetate, Borneol, Citronellal, and Citronellol.
The main chemical constituents of Citronella Java Oil, which is derived from the Andropogon nardus botanical, are Citronellal, Geraniol, Citronellol, Limonene, and Geranyl acetate.
Due to its higher Geraniol and Citronellal content, Java is the variety that is believed to be of higher quality. Both oils vary in color from a pale yellow to a brownish shade; however, the Java variety generally has a fresher, lemony scent reminiscent of Lemon Essential Oil while the Ceylon variety may have a warm, woody nuance to its citrus aroma.
Used in aromatherapy applications, Citronella Essential Oil is known to slow or prevent the growth and spread of harmful airborne bacteria while also repelling flying insects, such as mosquitos. It eases and uplifts negative sentiments such as sadness, anxiety, and stress by relaxing the body and mind and promoting a sense of lightheartedness. Furthermore, it is reputed to ease muscles spasms, such as menstrual cramps, as well as spasms of the respiratory and nervous systems. This, in turn, alleviates discomforts such as coughs. Its fresh, bright citrus-like scent is known to naturally refresh the musty scent of the stale and unclean air. This cleansing and invigorating quality make Citronella Oil an ideal ingredient in natural room sprays and diffuser blends. Its happy fragrance is also reputed to normalize an irregular heartbeat and palpitations, to ease headaches, migraines, nausea, neuralgia, and symptoms of colitis, and to improve energy levels to overcome fatigue. The scent of Citronella Oil is known to blend well with all citrus essential oils, such as Lemon and Bergamot, as well as with Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Lavender, Peppermint, Pine, Rosemary, Sandalwood, and Tea Tree essential oils.
Used cosmetically or topically in general, Citronella Essential Oil can deodorize and refresh foul body odors by inhibiting the growth of odor-causing bacteria, which makes it an ideal ingredient in natural perfumes, deodorants, body sprays, and bath blends. With skin health-enhancing properties, the ability to boost skin’s absorption of moisture, and the ability to balance oil production, Citronella Oil is beneficial for promoting and maintaining a rejuvenated complexion for all skin types. It is known to facilitate the healing of skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and dermatitis, and its protective qualities are reputed to reduce the chances of skin damage caused by exposure to UV radiation. Its ability to slow the look of aging makes it an ideal ingredient for use in cosmetics targeted toward maturing or blemished and scarred complexions. For its ability to boost the healing of wounds, it is ideal for use on bug bites, sores, swelling, warts, age spots, and fungal infections. Oily hair can benefit from Citronella Essential Oil’s ability to regulate sebum production as well as its ability to cleanse the scalp and hair of oil, dead skin, dirt, dandruff, product residue, and a build-up of environmental pollutants.
CITRONELLA OIL USES
Used in aromatherapy applications, Citronella Oil can enhance concentration and promote mental clarity. Simply diffuse 3 drops of Citronella Oil in a diffuser of personal preference and enjoy a greater sense of focus. The scent is also believed to calm and ground the body and mind by reducing the burden of chaotic and conflicting emotions.
With anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and expectorant properties, Citronella Oil can offer respite from discomforts of the respiratory system, such as congestion, infection, and irritation of the throat or sinuses, shortness of breath, mucus production, and symptoms of bronchitis. Simply diffuse a blend consisting of 2 drops each of Citronella, Lavender, and Peppermint essential oils to attain this relief while also enhancing circulation and reducing stress and anxiety.
Citronella Essential Oil is known to naturally deodorize and freshen the air of an indoor environment. For an air freshener that disinfects while it boosts the mood, add 30 drops Citronella Essential Oil and 2 Tbsp. (30 ml/1 oz.) White Distilled Vinegar in a 240 ml (8 oz.) glass spray bottle, then fill the rest of the bottle with distilled water, leaving a little bit of empty space at the top. Cap the bottle, shake it well to thoroughly combine all the ingredients, then spritz the mixture a few times into the air for a fresher scent and a lighter mood. When the bottle is not in use, store it in a cool, dry place.
Used in cosmetic and topical applications, Citronella Oil makes a gentle and anti-bacterial body spray that can cover or eliminate body odors, especially those caused by bacteria under the arms. For a lemon-scented deodorant with the anti-bacterial benefits of Citronella Oil, first thoroughly combine 2 Tbsp. Baking Soda and 2 Tbsp. Arrowroot Powder in a small bowl. Next, add 4 Tbsp. Coconut Carrier Oil, 4 drops Lemon Essential Oil, and 4 drops Citronella Essential Oil, and thoroughly combine all the ingredients once more. Scoop the mixture into an empty twist-up deodorant container, then refrigerate the filled container for at least 30 minutes until the deodorant mixture hardens. When the deodorant is ready to be used, avoid placing hard pressure on the stick when applying it to the underarms. Instead, apply it with light strokes, and the Coconut Oil will soften as it comes in contact with body heat. When the deodorant is not in use, store it in a cool area.
To promote the look of a younger, smoother complexion while protecting it against sun damage, add 1-2 drops of Citronella Essential Oil to a regular mild face wash or to a body wash. This is known to naturally reduce the appearance of blemishes and the formation of acne. Alternatively, 1-2 drops of Citronella Essential Oil can be diluted in 2 Tbsp. of Coconut Carrier Oil and massaged gently into the face. To create an all-natural face wash that soothes skin afflicted with acne, eczema, dermatitis, premature aging, and fungal infections, dilute 5 drops Citronella Essential Oil in a mixture of 1 tsp. of Witch Hazel and ½ cup of distilled water. Apply this solution to the face with a clean cotton pad to eliminate sebum buildup and to balance sebum production while soothing any redness, tenderness, and inflammation.
For a shampoo that eliminates excess oil, dandruff, fungus, and infections while smoothing out knots, mix 2-3 drops of Citronella Essential Oil into a regular shampoo. This is known to calm frizz, soften the strands, and soothe the scalp. For a conditioning hair mask that adds volume to limp locks, combine 2 Tbsp. Sweet Almond Carrier Oil and 5 drops of Citronella Essential Oil in a small bowl. Thoroughly mix the two oils together and apply the mixture to small sections of towel-dried hair, starting at the scalp and smoothing it down over the strands to the tips. Leave this mask on for 20 minutes, then rinse out the oil with a regular shampoo and style the hair as usual. This hair mask can also be left on overnight and is reputed to prevent hair loss, promote healthier hair growth, and eliminate the buildup of chemical toxins and environmental pollutants that accumulate on the scalp. For a leave-in conditioner, simply warm up a nickel-size amount of the oil, rub it between the palms or the fingertips, then gently rub it into the ends of the hair before styling as usual.
Used in medicinal applications, Citronella Oil is known to soothe cuts and wounds and to facilitate their healing by offering relief from bacterial infections and preventing future instances of infections. To speed up healing and ease pain or inflammation with Citronella Oil’s anti-microbial and antiseptic qualities, dilute 1-3 drops of Citronella Essential Oil in 1 tsp. of Coconut Carrier Oil before gently dabbing the blend onto a sore, scrape, or abrasion. For a full-body anti-fungal remedy that is reputed to address topical infections such as ringworm and Athlete’s Foot, simply add 2-3 drops of Citronella Oil to warm bath water. This simple solution has the added benefit of being a refreshingly aromatic yet deodorizing bath.
For a tonic massage blend that stimulates, supports, and strengthens all the body’s systems, including the digestive, excretory, nervous, and endocrine systems, blend together 10 drops of Citronella Essential Oil and 10 ml (0.33 oz.) of Coconut Carrier Oil. Gently massage this blend all over the body to boost immunity and circulation while soothing arthritic discomfort, back pain, abdominal cramps, and headache.
For a detoxifying massage oil, dilute 5 drops of Citronella Essential Oil in 5 ml (0.16 oz.) of Sesame Carrier Oil. Massage this blend into the parts of the body affected by pain and inflammation. This blend is reputed to not only reduce both symptoms but to also promote the body’s elimination of toxins through sweat and excretory functions. To stimulate digestion and reduce menstrual cramps, this blend can be massaged onto the abdomen in a circular motion for 1 minute or until fully absorbed into the skin.
For an invigorating massage that addresses fatigue and lethargy, dilute 2-4 drops of Citronella Essential Oil in 2 Tbsp. of Olive or Jojoba carrier oil and massage it into the skin until it is fully absorbed. This blend is reputed to promote the body’s release of negative emotions such as aggression, restlessness, and sadness.