Uses of Citronella Oil
Citronella oil is popularly used as an insect repellent. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classifies it as a biopesticide with a non-toxic mode of action.4
Citronella oil can be found in dozens of registered pesticide products, such as sprays, lotions, and candles. At times, it is added to sunscreen, wristbands, and flea collars.5 Due to its antifungal properties, citronella oil is also used to treat insect bites.6
Citronella essential oil is one of the most common oils used in aromatherapy. It is said that as an aromatherapy oil, citronella can help treat and prevent colds, fevers, and headaches.7 As a massage oil, it may relieve pain in individuals suffering from arthritis.
The oil of citronella is also widely used in fragrances and personal care products. It is largely imported by Germany and France, two of the largest hubs for the perfume industry.8 Because of its antiseptic properties, citronella oil is also used in soaps, household cleaners, and detergents.
Research found that using citronella oil can help calm barking dogs.9 Citronella oil is also added as a food and beverage flavoring, such as in alcoholic drinks, frozen dairy, and gelatin and puddings.
Both types of citronella oil contain over 80 constituents, about 50 of which make up 90 percent of each oil.11 The main components of citronella oil are citronellol, citronellal, and geraniol. The two types of citronella oil vary in the amounts of geraniol and citronellal. Below are the main constituents of each oil:12
According to a paper in the International Journal of Advanced Research,13 citronella oil is noted for its efficiency in repelling mosquitoes – it provided about two hours of repellency in the study.
It has proven successful in repelling the dreaded Aedes aegypti, a species of mosquito that spread diseases like dengue fever, chikungunya, and yellow fever. Apart from being used on humans, citronella oil is also used to keep ticks away from livestock and pets.
In a 2011 issue of Tropical Medicine & International Health,14 an analysis of 11 studies on the capabilities of citronella oil found that when combined with vanillin, the essential oil likely provided up to three hours of protection against mosquitoes.
The study also pointed out comparable protection time against DEET, a chemical commonly found in chemical bug repellents.
The research stated that oil of citronella has potent antifungal properties that help suppress the growth of fungi species, such as Aspergillus, Penicillium, and Eurotium.15 Citronella oil owes its antibacterial and antiseptic nature to compounds like methyl isoeugenol.
These compounds prevent the growth of bacteria in your body and help treat wounds, as well as infections that may occur in the colon, urethra, bladder, gastrointestinal tract, prostate, and kidneys.16
Citronella essential oil is often used in aromatherapy because it can provide relief from anxiety and a light feeling. It can also provide relief from menstrual cramps and muscle spasms. The oil can also help inhibit inflammation in the liver, stomach, and digestive tract.