Citronella (Cymbopogan nardus) is a tufted perennial grass, with a very fibrous root system. It grows wild and is cultivated in Sri Lanka and other tropical areas. Citronella essential oil is steam distilled from the plant’s scented leaves and is yellow, brown in colour, often with a green/yellow hue. Cymbopogan nardus, often grown in Sri Lanka, is known as the ‘Ceylon type’, whereas Cymbopogan winterianus, often grown in the Far East, is known as the ‘Java type’. Both have slightly different proportions of constituent elements. Cymbopogan nardus essential oil contains approximately 60% geraniol and this floral element is dominant in its initial aroma impact. The oil has an unmistakable fragrance, being at once woody and lemony, with sweet and floral, grassy, herbaceous elements and a hint of camphor. It has a real array of scent levels and ranges.
Citronella essential oil is widely used in industry as an insecticide, and as an ingredient in perfumes and house-hold cleaning products. It is also used to harvest specific constituent elements, such as geraniol, and to produce menthol.
Therapeutically, Citronella oil can be used in aromatherapy for the following:
•As a tonic for the immune system
•For the nervous system (as a mild sedative to help with stress / anxiety)
•As an analgesic
•As an anti-fungal
•As an anti-inflammatory
•As an anti-spasmodic
Safety note: Citronella essential oil can cause irritation to sensitive skin and mucous membranes. Do not use in baths or for inhalation, and use sparingly, i.e. in a low dilution capacity – 1-2 drops maximum per 20ml carrier oil or cream/lotion. It is best used for vaporising or well diluted in a cream or lotion base for its insect repellent properties. If in doubt do a skin patch test prior to first use.
Citronella, along with other cheaper essential oils such as Lemon and Lemongrass, is often used to adulterate more expensive essential oils such as true Melissa!
Aromatherapy blends using Citronella essential oil
Insect Repellent Vaporiser:
If you’re having a BBQ, dining outside or simply enjoying drinks, add 3 drops of Citronella essential oil, 3 Geranium and 2 Peppermint to your aromatherapy oil burner/diffuser and vaporise for 30 minutes in advance.
Insect Repellent Lotion:
Mix 50ml Organic Moisturising Lotion with 5 drops each of Patchouli and Geranium, 2 Citronella and 1 Peppermint. Shake well before use, and remember to patch test first if using on sensitive skin. This is an inexpensive and more natural solution to the commercial insect repellents that contain lots of highly toxic chemicals, that many believe should never be applied to the skin!
Athlete’s Foot Cream:
To treat and help prevent this fungal infection mix 50ml Moisturising Cream, 5 drops Tea Tree, 5 Patchouli, 1 Peppermint and 1 Citronella.
Post Sports Massage Oil:
If you are feeling stiff or have pulled a muscle, Citronella essential oil acts as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic, which – along with the action of the massage itself – can really help to ease pain and stiffness. Try 30ml Grapeseed Oil, 6 drops Lavender essential oil, 3 Marjoram,