Citronella oil is best known for its strong and distinctive aroma. It’s also one of the most commonly used ingredients in aromatherapy. However, aromatherapy isn’t all that citronella oil is good for. One of the most important things that citronella oil can do for us is to keep disease-carrying mosquitoes and other irritating insects away. It can also offer many other health benefits not just for the body but for the mind as well.
- Citronella vs. Lemongrass: What's the difference?
- Uses and Benefits
- Repelling insects
- Fighting bacteria and fungi
- Controlling convulsions and muscle spasms
- Reducing pain
- Removing bad odors
- Increasing urination
- Relieving anxiety
- Improving aromatherapy
- Citronella insect repellent spray
- Citronella insect repellent lotion
- Citronella deodorant
- Citronella aromatherapy blend
Citronella oil comes from two plant species belonging to the Cymbopogon family. Cymbopogon is better known as lemongrass, a type of grass with different cultivated species. Two particular lemongrass species produce citronella oil: Cymbopogon nardus and Cymbopogon winterianus, which produce Ceylon citronella oil and Java citronella oil respectively.
Lemongrass is native to Southeast Asia, though it has since been cultivated in many other parts of the world. It has grown to have a reputation for having a wide variety of uses, from lending flavor to food to potentially saving lives. It also features in Brazilian and Chinese folk medicine.
Over the years, people have discovered several ways to get the most out of a few stalks or even just a few blades of lemongrass. The plant has been used as an herb to lend flavor to food, and its leaves have also been used to make tea that is known to soothe a variety of health conditions. Of course, it has also been used to produce citronella oil, which itself has a variety of uses and benefits.
Citronella vs. Lemongrass: What's the difference?
There may be some confusion between lemongrass and citronella, and the two may be interchangeable to some. However, as mentioned above, citronella oil comes from the C. nardus and C. winterianus species of lemongrass. The plant known as lemongrass, which also produces lemongrass essential oil, is actually the species Cymbopogon citratus.
Not only do these plants come from the same family and actually look very much alike, they also have very similar benefits and uses. However, C. nardus, C. winterianus, and C. citratus are all genetically distinct from one another.
Of course, it certainly doesn’t help that at first glance, the different Cymbopogon species look very much alike. To tell them apart, you can examine the pseudostems for each plant. The citronella oil-producing plants have reddish and purplish pseudostems, while the lemongrass oil-producing plants have green and white pseudostems.
Interestingly, the oils produced by these plants are similar as well. However, there are claims that citronella oil is better at repelling insects than lemongrass oil. If you’re curious about the other differences between the two essential oils, Aroma Foundry offers both citronella oil and lemongrass oil.
Uses and Benefits
Citronella oil is best known for its uses in aromatherapy and its insect-repelling properties. However, if you’re not all that familiar with it, you may find some more interesting and surprising uses as you learn more about it.
The mosquito species Aedes aegypti can and has wreaked havoc in several populations. This particular type of mosquito carries debilitating and life-threatening diseases, such as dengue fever, yellow fever, the West Nile virus, and the dreaded Zika fever, among other contagious illnesses. Mosquitoes typically contract the virus by feeding on the blood of an infected person. When these virus-carrying mosquitoes alight on another person and feed on his or her blood, they can infect this person with whichever disease they’re carrying.
Thus, protection against these mosquitoes is vital in areas where Ae. aegypti is commonly found, such as tropical and subtropical countries. Citronella oil has been found to be capable of repelling the Ae. aegypti mosquitoes, as well as head lice and other insects that may be less dangerous but can still be a nuisance.
If you’re struggling to keep your pet free of fleas, you can spray their collars with a bit of citronella oil as well. This can repel the little parasites and keep them from away from your furry friends. Of course, you can buy flea collars with citronella oil and other essential oils, but simply applying citronella oil on your pet’s collar can save you the expense.
If you live in or are visiting a country where the Ae. aegypti mosquitoes thrive, citronella oil may literally save your life. All you need to do is to apply a natural insect repellent with citronella oil directly onto your skin. This will allow you to protect yourself from mosquitoes and other insects. Studies have also found that using citronella oil with a diffuser can repel insects as well.
The oil has a strong, distinct smell, but it’s fortunately not unpleasant. Thus, citronella oil is an effective and all-natural alternative to other insect repellents that may contain potentially harmful ingredients or may have a strange smell.
However, you should avoid applying high amounts of pure citronella oil onto your skin. Citronella oil, as well as many other essential oils, are highly concentrated and can thus have irritating effects. If you apply citronella oil onto your skin, it should be diluted.
Fighting bacteria and fungi
Other than fighting mosquitoes, citronella oil can also fight harmful bacteria and fungi. Ceylon citronella oil in particular was found to have the ability to serve as an antibacterial agent in aquaculture. Even the cultivation of seafood can be safer and more natural because of citronella oil.
Of course, these antimicrobial properties extend their protection to other types of food and to humans as well. Citronella oil has also been found to inhibit the growth of a fungus that can contaminate certain fruits and vegetables, making our food safer to eat and reducing the need for commercial pesticides.
It can also effectively target Escherichia coli bacteria, which causes infections like urinary tract infection, pneumonia, and food-borne illnesses. Other than E. coli, citronella oil is also effective against the proliferation of the Candida albicans fungi, which can infect the mouth, skin, digestive system, and vagina.
The oil contains antiseptic and antimicrobial compounds, most notably methyl isoeugenol. These compounds are responsible for the prevention of microbial growth, thus stopping infections from spreading or even occurring in the first place.
Because of these compounds, citronella oil has the ability to disinfect wounds and even prevent infections that may occur in the digestive system, kidneys, bladder, urethra, and prostate. Citronella oil can also help treat food poisoning, which results from the consumption of infected foods or drinks.
You can also use citronella oil in cleaning parts of your house where microbes are likely to proliferate, such as your kitchen and bathroom. Citronella oil can be used in a cleaning spray that can be a good alternative to cleaning products that contain potentially harmful ingredients.
Controlling convulsions and muscle spasms
Convulsions can be a terrifying thing to experience and witness. These are usually caused by health conditions such as brain disorders, fevers, and the presence of certain toxins in the blood stream.
However, citronella oil particularly from the C. winterianus lemongrass species has its uses as an anticonvulsant. A study has also found that citronella oil can indeed help control convulsions during an attack. Of course, it’s important to note that this study was conducted on rodents, and so far there have not yet been any scientific studies testing the anticonvulsant effects of citronella oil on humans. However, this study may be an indication that citronella oil can indeed help manage convulsions.
Because the oil can help manage muscle spasms, it can also help ease menstrual cramps.
However, it’s important to consult your doctor before using citronella oil to manage convulsions and muscle spasms. If you’re taking medications to manage your condition, there’s a possibility that citronella oil may interfere with them. Thus, you’ll need medical advice to make sure that you won’t encounter problems while using the oil.
Now and then we may experience aches in different parts of our bodies due to a variety of causes. It may be because of a long, difficult day at work, or maybe you spent a little too much time on the treadmill at the gym. An easy way to deal with these body pains is to take a painkiller, though it’s possible that your tolerance to painkillers can grow over time.
If you want to avoid having to take painkillers, citronella oil can be a good alternative. A number of studies have found that citronella oil has analgesic properties. This means that the application of the oil can relieve aches and pains.
Of course, the oil may be less effective than over-the-counter analgesic pills, especially in cases where the pain is worse. However, citronella oil may be able to help you manage lower levels of pain.
Make sure that you use safe amounts of the oil if you’ll be using it to treat body aches. Too much of pure citronella oil can irritate your skin, so be sure to use only a few drops on your skin.
Removing bad odors
Citronella’s most prominent feature is its aroma. The smell is so distinctive that you’ll definitely be able to easily identify it. It’s also so strong that it can easily overpower most other scents in the same place.
Thus, you can use citronella as an all-natural deodorant. While the deodorants that you can find on the market are more convenient to use, they unfortunately have ingredients like parabens, aluminum, and propylene glycol. These ingredients are potentially harmful and have been linked to various health issues like tumors, Alzheimer’s disease, and Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Fortunately, you can use citronella oil with other ingredients that you may already have in your kitchen to create a safer and all-natural deodorant. Refer to the recipes section below to find out how to make your own deodorant with citronella oil and carrier oils.
You can also use citronella oil to make your baths smell better than ever. Simply add a few drops of the oil into your bath water. Not only will this make your bath smell lemony and refreshing, it can also help soothe aching muscles and joints.
However, don’t stay in the bath for too long if you’ve added citronella oil to it. You should also make sure to use only a few drops of the oil, as too much of the oil can cause skin irritation.
We may not know it most of the time, but the world we live in has a lot of toxins. Even seemingly harmless objects may have harmful chemicals and substances that can affect your health. We can’t completely avoid these toxins, especially when we don’t even know that they’re there. Thus, it’s important that we regularly cleanse our systems of toxins to avoid the development of various diseases.
You may have heard that sweating can help flush those toxins out of your body. However, health professionals have found that sweating during rigorous physical activity like going to the gym doesn’t actually do much to get rid of the harmful toxins in your system. What does flush your body clean is urination and defecation.
Citronella oil has been found to be an effective diuretic, which means that it induces urination and can thus help flush toxins out of the body. As a diuretic, citronella oil also helps reduce fluid retention, which is basically an excess of water buildup in the body. Fluid retention can cause a range of health problems, like joint stiffness and body aches. Diuretic pills can usually help treat fluid retention, but you can choose to use citronella oil as a natural alternative.
However, make sure to consult your doctor before using citronella oil to treat any health issues.
We all feel anxious from time to time. It’s a natural and normal response to triggers and stressful situations. However, we shouldn’t let it start to affect important aspects of our lives like school, work, and social relationships.
Of course, that may be easier said than done. Anxiety can be difficult to deal with, and people who have it may need therapy to be able to effectively handle it. However, there are also a number of other ways to deal with anxiety that don’t involve therapy or medications.
Citronella oil is an anxiolytic, which means that it can help reduce anxiety. It has also been used for this same function in Brazilian folk medicine, which means that it does have a history of use as a relaxation agent.
Of course, you shouldn’t expect citronella oil alone to be able to help you with anxiety. However, it definitely can help you relax and can even help you sleep better and lift your mood.
Perhaps the most distinctive quality of citronella oil is its aroma. It has a grassy, lemony, and floral scent, and because of this strong aroma, it’s one of the more commonly used essential oils in aromatherapy.
Of course, citronella oil’s function in aromatherapy isn’t just to smell nice. Citronella oil in aromatherapy has been said to be able to relieve pain associated with arthritis and treat symptoms associated with the colds and the flu.
Also, because citronella oil has anxiolytic properties, its scent can also be relaxing. Thus, an aromatherapy session with citronella oil can be good for both the body and the mind.
Citronella oil is actually considered to be mostly safe to use, though of course there are still some precautions that you need to take. For example, you should avoid putting 100% pure citronella oil directly on your skin. You should also avoid getting it near your eyes, diluted or not.
While citronella oil can be used to flavor food, you should avoid ingesting it in its pure form. You’ll likely just pass the oil’s components after you digest them, but pure citronella oil can irritate your throat.
It’s also important to note that citronella bug sprays do not kill insects, but instead simply repel them. Thus, if you want to actually kill mosquitoes, you’ll need to use another product or other techniques to do so effectively.
There are also claims that citronella oil can help expel parasites like worms from the intestinal tract. However, it seems that these claims are unfounded. While many of the claims made about essential oils still don’t have scientific backing, they’re widely considered to be true anyway because they have a history in traditional medicine. Even so, it seems that there is little evidence that citronella oil can indeed get rid of parasites in human intestines.
Like with other essential oils, you can bring the best out of citronella oil if you use it properly. It’s usually best if you use citronella oil with other ingredients to come up with insect-repelling products and effective aromatherapy combinations. Take a look at the recipes below to get a better idea of what you can do with citronella oil.
Citronella insect repellent spray
There are already citronella insect repellent sprays available on the market, but it may also be fun to make your own. After all, it’s not that difficult to make, and you can order the ingredients online if you don’t have them on hand. Plus, if you make your own, you can be in control of every ingredient that goes into the spray.
Citronella oil isn’t the only essential oil you can use, though it’s definitely an important component. Since citronella doesn’t just work on mosquitoes, you can also tweak the recipe and change it around if you also need to deal with ticks and other parasitic insects.
Here are the ingredients:
- ½ cup natural witch hazel (try to find witch hazel without parabens, which can be harmful)
- ½ cup water or apple cider vinegar
- 20 drops of citronella oil
- 20 to 30 drops of other essential oils
You can use five to 15 drops of essential oils like lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary, and eucalyptus. If you want the spray to be effective against ticks as well, you can use about 10 drops of tea tree oil.
Pour the witch hazel and water or apple cider vinegar into a glass spray bottle or a mixing jar. Add the essential oils and thoroughly combine all the ingredients.
If you combined the ingredients in a mixing jar, transfer the mixture to a glass spray bottle. Make sure to shake the contents well before every use. You can then spray the mixture on the exposed parts of your skin whenever necessary, but make sure to avoid spraying it near your mouth and eyes.
Citronella repellent lotion
If you’re not sold on the bug spray or if you’re looking for a little something extra, you can make insect repellent lotion with citronella. This is also a surprisingly easy recipe, and the ingredients are probably easy to find.
Here are the things you’ll need:
- 6 drops of citronella oil
- 6 to 8 drops of four other essential oils
- ½ cup fractionated coconut oil
Other essential oils that will work with this recipe are lemongrass, lavender, eucalyptus, and tea tree oil. You’ll need to use fractionated coconut oil and not the usual coconut oil you can find in grocery stores. If you substitute regular coconut oil, the concoction may not work as well.
Fractionated coconut oil doesn’t have as many benefits as regular coconut oil, but it can be good for the skin. It’s also generally harmless, though it should not be used or consumed by people who are allergic to coconut products.
You should first mix all your essential oils in a mixing bowl, then add the fractionated coconut oil and combine everything thoroughly. Transfer the mixture to a clean jar and allow the fractionated coconut oil to solidify. Once the mixture is ready, apply it onto your skin like any other lotion.
Of course, it’s much easier to simply pop down to the nearest grocery or drug store and buy a deodorant. However, you’ll be using that deodorant quite frequently, and you’ll be applying it directly onto your skin. Store-bought deodorants contain potentially harmful chemicals, and you may be looking for safer and more natural alternatives.
If you’re interested in trying out an all-natural deodorant, these are the things you’ll need:
- 4 tablespoons baking soda
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons coconut or jojoba oil
- 10 drops of citronella oil
Combine all the ingredients in a glass spray bottle and mix them gently. Make sure that you apply the deodorant on clean skin, so it’s best to use it after a shower.
Pay close attention to how your skin reacts to this mixture. If there is redness or some other signs of irritation, stop using the deodorant right away and consult your doctor if the irritation persists.
Citronella aromatherapy blend
If you have a diffuser, you can use different mixes of essential oils for aromatherapy. Certain essential oils can complement the aroma of citronella oil, but you can definitely mix and match different essential oils in different amounts to find the perfect mixture. If you’re not sure about what a good combination would be, you can start with equal parts citronella oil, lavender oil, and tea tree essential oil. You can try 8 drops of each essential oil, then adjust the amounts as you see fit.
Citronella oil has a lot of proven uses and benefits, mostly as an insect repellent and as an aromatherapeutic ingredient. Fortunately, it can now be found in many places around the globe. Even though the various lemongrass species are native to the tropics, it has eventually made its way to other regions and can now be found in more temperate climes. Thus, even though you don’t live the tropics, there’s a chance that you may find citronella and other types of lemongrass growing somewhere nearby.
However, citronella oil is definitely easier to find. Aroma Foundry offers 100% pure and all-natural citronella oil that came from Java, Indonesia, a place considered to produce the best citronella plants in the world.
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