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Citronella oil is among the most popular essential oils extracted from the leaves and stems of a grass called Cymbopogon, commonly known as lemongrass. There are around 50 species of lemongrass out of which 'Cymbopogon citratus' is specifically used for the making of citronella oil. It is commonly cultivated for culinary and medicinal purposes due to its lemon-like scent and disinfectant nature.
Lemongrass has tall and thin leaves and the stems are magenta in shade. The grass is native to India, Thailand, Malasia and Sri Lanka. In the folk medicines of Brazil, this plant is believed to have an anticonvulsant, antianxiety and hypnotic effect. Also, the traditional medicine of India mentions the great usage of citronella oil as an analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antipyretic and antifungal agent.
The naturally occurring compounds in the herb are citronellal, myrecene, nerol geraniol and terpinolene. A study also shows that lemongrass contains flavonoids and phenolic compounds like luteolin, quercetin and apigenin which indicates its high therapeutic effect.
Health Benefits of Citronella Oil
1. Fights depression
Depression and anxiety are the most serious mental disorders and the best way to manage these conditions is by herbal treatment methods. According to a study, citronella oil has a significant anti-depressant effect compared to a drug named imipramine. The active compounds in the oil like myrcene, citronellal and geraniol help to calm nervous conditions and inflammation thus, treating depression and anxiety.
2. Treat muscle spasm
This particular oil contains compounds like terpenes, ketones, esters and alcohols. It is also reported to have flavonoids and phenolic compounds which make it useful during aromatherapy. Massaging the affected area with the citronella oil mixed with a carrier oil gives a spasmodic effect which provides a warming effect in the painful area and treats the condition.
3. Detoxifies body
This grass serves as a detoxifying agent due to the presence of methanol and helps detoxify the pancreas, digestive system, kidney and liver. The plant decoction is also used to promote sweating as a result of which, the excess oil, toxins and water are expelled from the body in the form of sweat thus, maintaining the normal body functions.
4. Keeps away from mosquito bite
A mosquito named Aedes aegypti is known to cause vector diseases like dengue and yellow fever. Also, they have developed resistance against certain pesticides. According to a study, citronella oil has more potential to repel aegypti mosquitoes compared to DEET.
5. Fights infection
According to a study, the oil of lemongrass contains two main monoterpenic aldehydes called geranial and neral. These compounds possess antimicrobial properties which help fight against Gram-positive and Gram-negative fungi and bacteria. However, such property of the oil is more effective in vapour form.
6. Treats gastrointestinal disorders
Citronella oil has a great medicinal value in the treatment of gastric ulcers and stomach ache. The oil has the ability to protect the gastric mucosa present in the stomach against damage induced by necrotizing agents like ethanol. According to traditional folk medicine, this oil is greatly used in Brazil for the treatment of most of the stomach-related problems.
7. Promotes urine production
According to research, citronella oil helps prevent kidney injury caused due to the effect of aminoglycosides, a kind of antibiotic obtained from the species of Streptomyces bacteria. The strong flavonoid content and antioxidant nature of citronella oil prevents the oxidative damage against the toxicity induced by aminoglycosides.
8. Soothes inflammation
Citronella oil is a herb which is widely used in traditional cuisine to soothe inflammation. The oil contains polyphenols like flavonoid and tannin which reduce the production of a large number of nitric oxides by activated inflammatory cells without affecting the functionality of the cell. The reduction in the NO level thus treats inflammation and other inflammatory diseases.
9. Improves blood circulation
A study says that lemongrass oil has antihypertensive agents and methanolic substances which are effective in relaxing the vascular muscles. The vascular muscles include the blood vessels, veins, arteries and capillaries. Therefore, when the essential oil is taken, it induces a relaxing and constricting factor which relaxes the vascular tissues and improves the blood circulation in the body.
Side Effects of Citronella Oil
Citronella oil does not cause any side effect when used in the appropriate amount. However, when the pure form of the oil is applied on the skin, it may cause skin irritation, dermatitis and rashes. Therefore, in aromatherapy, the oil is mixed with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba oil and then applied on the skin. Also, avoid excessive sun exposure and direct inhale of the oil from the bottle.
How To Use
- Spray: In a spray bottle, add around 10-15 drops of the oil per ounce of water. You can also use solubol as the oil is insoluble in water. Shake the bottle well and use it. This process is used to freshen the air and to repel insects.
- Deodorant: Mix 2 tbsp baking soda with 2 tbsp arrowroot powder. Add 4 tbsp coconut oil and 4 drops of citronella oil. Refrigerate the mixture after mixing it well. Apply it softly on underarms to remove bad body odours.
- Face cream: Add 1-2 drops of the essential oil in the regular face cream or face wash or mix it with coconut oil and massage the face. It helps to remove acne, dermatitis and ageing marks.
- Massage oils: Mix 15 drops of citronella oil per ounce of carrier oil like jojoba or coconut oil. Massage the skin with the oil to get relief from pain.
- Shampoo: Add 5 drops of the essential oil to almond oil and massage the hair from the scalp to the bottom of the hair. This facilitates hair growth, removes dandruff and excess oil from the hairs.
- Never use the oil directly on the skin.
- Avoid its consumption by mouth.
- During aromatherapy, ventilate the area well before usage.
- Pregnant and lactating women should avoid the usage of oil without proper consultation with a doctor.